The Friday before last was something of a trial at work and so I was glad to join my coworkers for a beginning-of-the-weekend drink. We gathered at the Daq Shack across the street from the main office building where many generations of our people have met to forget what just happened. Evening came on quickly, despite the warmth. Five minutes after we arrived, the wind picked up and we had to shout at each other in the dark.
“Did you get all the emoticons I sent you?” one of my colleagues asked.
“Yeah. All of them. I liked the crab,” I said.
“We send those to you just to hear you laugh,” he explained. “We wait for it in the other office. There goes Sam again. Guffawing at something.”
“Sorry I didn’t laugh enough.”
People tell me that I have a very distinct laugh. Sometimes they say it’s a guffaw, and sometimes a scoff. It amuses some, but offends others. I know that if I ever heard someone in a crowd laughing the way I do, I would feel obliged to tell them that they are bad people.
Immediately after the drinks, I joined IB at her house and we biked into the Marigny.
“What’s on the itinerary?” I shouted as we crossed one of the Elysian Fields intersections closest to the levee.
“It’s a play called Marilyn,” IB called back, making a sudden right turn. I jerked my bike around to follow her. “It’s at somebody’s house and they only let in about twelve people so we have to hurry.”
A moment later we pulled up next to a tiny duplex. The cashier told us we had arrived too late and if we wanted to see the show we’d have to come back the next day about a half hour before the time. It was 7:00PM and no other shows IB wanted to see began until 9:00PM.
We retreated to the Lost Love Lounge so that I could eat and we could kill time. Lost Love sits on some hidden corner in the Marigny that I’m certain I could not find on my own. There is a bar in the front room, illuminated red through the haze of cigarette smoke. As you walk in the door, there is a gigantic bookshelf on your right filled with popular paperbacks. Proceeding through the bar you arrive at a little restaurant that serves Pho and has a tiny stage tucked into one corner. I ordered Pho and was surprised by the prices.
“I thought you said this place wasn’t expensive?” I said.
“It isn’t expensive.”
“This is expensive.”
“I’ve learned to stop worrying about money,” IB said, with a shrug. “It works out.”
After we ate we moved back to the bar where we somehow got on the topic of postmodernism.
“I’m already sick of this conversation,” IB said. “That’s all anyone ever talked about in college, ‘What comes after postmodernism?’”
“Postmodernism is all my professors ever wanted to talk about in college,” I said. “They came of age when that was the hip theory. People asked what comes next, but no one ever bothered to answer the question. And for all that, I still have no idea what postmodernism is.”
“Well, what’s postmodern to you?”
“It’s a school of thought concerned with deconstructing and analyzing the modernist philosophy of absolutes. That’s part of it, at least. What’s postmodernism for you?”
“Every boring thing that came after modernism. Have you ever read John Barth?”
“And that’s all that the entire intellectual movement that currently informs our thinking means to you? It’s boring?”
I looked at my phone. “It’s nine.”
We biked quickly across town to the Shadow Box Theatre. I reacted to one sudden turn after the next until we finally arrived, ten minutes later, at the theatre to try to catch 33. I knew nothing about it but the name. As we locked our bikes, IB explained, “It’s a cabaret-style play about a theatre artist in Nazi Germany.” (The irony of us trying to reach this play after a conversation about postmodernism didn’t hit me until just now. BTW, hello, reader.)
The cashier at Shadow Box told us that we’d arrived too late and the show was sold out.
“The next show’s at eleven,” we were told.
Twice defeated, we decided to investigate the venue across the street. How to Be a Lesbian in 10 Days or Less had started 20 minutes earlier, but we decided to go for it.
How to Be a Lesbian is a one-woman show and I can’t say anything for the first half, but the second was great. The major themes and subject are pretty much covered in the title, so I’ll spare you. What I can add is that Leigh Hendrix (performer and writer) is an energetic and entertaining actress and a witty writer. The play fell somewhere between a stand-up comedy routine and a mocumentary. If there was a plot, I missed it, but that’s no fault of the artist.
We made our way across the street and I was proud that I hadn’t gotten lost. It was not until after we were comfortably seated in the second row that either of us bothered to look at the playbill, which was not for 33, but Tap and Unfailing Prayers to St. Anthony.
“What happened to 33?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” IB said.
The acting was good the dancing was great, but I don’t really have much to say about this one because I have no idea what happened. Mind you, I was exhausted and had had a few drinks, but try as I might I could not figure out what the play was about. It began with the main character, Gene (also the playwright), crouched over a candle offering a prayer to St. Anthony. From there the play dove into a bizarre dance routine that was an odd blend of Lost in Space, every Hollywood 1950s musical, and American Idol.
When the play was over, I asked IB, “What just happened?” to which she replied, “I have no idea.”
Tired and disappointed, we got on our bikes and started making our way back to Treme. We didn’t talk on the way and I kept a little distance behind so that I could see when IB turned. We came to an intersection in Elysian Fields where a large red pickup sat in the break in the median. IB passed by, but when I rode by the driver hit the gas.
“Hey! Stop!” I shouted and managed to get my bike mostly out of the way, but his bumper slammed into my back tire.
“Oh, man! I didn’t see you,” the driver called out his open window. “Here, I’ll pull over.”
I got of my bike on the median. I double checked to make sure that I hadn’t been hit and that my bike was all right. By the time the driver got to me, I was still shaken.
“Are you all right?” he asked.
“I’m fine. I’m not hurt.”
“Is your bike all right?”
“I think so.”
“No one’s dead.”
The driver turned and meandered across the three lanes of traffic back to his car. He kept turning to wave at us and just barely managed not to get hit by oncoming traffic. A moment later, he was back in his car and driving fast down Elysian Fields.
“He was wasted,” I said, a revelation.
“And an asshole,” IB added
I got on my bike and pushed forward a foot before I realized that my back tire was untrue.
“Can you ride it?”
“No,” I said “Why didn’t I get his license plate number? Or his name? Or his insurance information?”
“A guy driving a car like that would have insurance.”
“Do you want to lock your bike up?”
“No,” I said and hoisted the frame over my shoulder. “Let’s go.”
“Are you sure?”
A mantra played through my head throughout the whole walk back. I stopped myself from saying aloud, Fuck this town. Fuck this town. Fuck this town.