WINTER'S LAST DREGS in a CUP
March 2003 - NOLA
by M Bat
There was finally a breeze. I'd been monitoring the weather channel all
week, waiting for the temperature to get somewhere where I might feel comfortable.
The weather channel promised it
would on Sunday, which was today.
This Sunday morning, we got up shortly after dawn and drank in the bar downstairs first.
"Because we can." We decided
this should be a new motto for New Orleans. There's a lot of things that
do in New Orleans. And we do some of them.
Me, too, although I'm just
I feel almost like my IQ has
dropped several points in just a few days. I would try to blame that on the
rise of the temperature, but, no, I know that it is because here the fact
I know the lyrics to old heavy metal tunes counts more than the fact I can
Romans, Countrymen" from memory and know that Marlon Brando's performance of
that eulogy in the
50s film version of Julius
Caesar turns me on.
Actually, mentioning that Marlon Brando's performance in that movie turns me on gets me points
here, too. It's not what turned me on, though, that matters. It's just that I'm female and
mentioned out loud, in public, that something turned me on. It perks their ears up.
They don't call it the Big Easy for nothing.
Although we still say the
new slogan ought to be "Because we can."
I cross through the Quarter to the next bar, where the bartender on shift is one of my old good
friends whom I had come to New Orleans to visit. And I come in to spend the early early morning
hours not as if I were in a dive bar but instead to spend time with him.
We have no grand salons, hardly
ever even living rooms, people like us, and a dive bar can become a cafe,
a pub, a lounge, a wildebeest's watering hole --
even in the dawn hours before last night's beer stench can be temporarily washed
away. Passing time is counted by drinks instead of ticks. Two beers, an Irish
coffee, two shots (one a Scooby Snak shot), a chicken song, and lord knows
what else go by, and I suddenly decide I should take a walk because I want
the air -- air in which there is finally a breeze and a chill -- both of which
I appreciate and prayed (to the weather channel) for.
I walk down Decatur two steps just about, turn up Gov. Nicholls and walk to the next block,
My legs feel good in motion -- the breeze hitting my tights. I have a cigarette in one hand, a
plastic cup in the other filled with 1/4 cup of the Harp I had been drinking and that I put in it
to take with me on my walk.
Because I could.
I turn up Ursulines. See a historic church, see the site of an old convent girls' school.
It is Sunday. I'm smoking and drinking at 8 am, taking a walk and feeling sexy. I see the
school and think of all the girls who had probably been beaten for doing, thinking, so much less
And so I look hard at the
wall and curse it for repressing those girls long gone from these walls and
earth. "I will fight you," I say to the wall.
Then I come back to the bar, retrieve my notebook, sit outside in the air and write this.
Because it's probably a better idea than standing around with a beer in my hand talking to old
Henry, who I do not know except to know he told me his name was Henry a while ago when I was in
the bar and he introduced himself to me, comes out of the bar. As he walks off down the street,
he says to me:
"Take care, little Bat, you'll
be in my prayers."
I look up just briefly and
smile. "Thank you." Because
it's important sometimes to thank those who want to pray for you, I think,
whatever their reasons. When someone wishes you well,
whatever method, let them and be grateful.
But, still, to myself, I ask:
Why? Why pray for me? The
air is chilly and I am more than content. I have the thawing blessings of
dregs of winter, and my plastic cup overfloweth.
Why? Why not? Because we can.