Sunday, September 7, 2008

Complimentary "Dead Hooker Under the Bed" Smell


Finally, our long week away from home and hours of weather-watching are over . . . for now.

Our stay at the Dead Roaches on the Floor Motel lasted four nights, four night of wondering where the dead-hooker-under-the-bed smell in my friend's room was coming from, not to mention what looked suspiciously like bloodstains on the curtains of my room.

We concurred that the hooker head been killed in my room and stuck under the bed in hers. She didn't have the nerve to check to see if the body was still there.

Our evacuation to Mississippi culminated with the untimely but not unexpected death of my car. Yes, I could have paid a fortune to fix it and then come back to New Orleans needing to get a new one anyway. So I ditched the Dodge in lieu of a more reliable Toyota. We were riding in style.

Bumblefuck, Mississippi, was actually a little town about 100 miles south of Memphis called Grenada. While the squalid conditions of our hotel turned us off initially, not to mention the creepy men hanging out in front of our doors drinking beer and staring at us, the people of Grenada turned out to be friendly, courteous, and helpful, from the bartenders at our favorite spot in Grenada (there's not much to choose from), Jake and Rip's, right down to customer service rep at the garage that gave me my car's final diagnosis (death sentence).

We left Grenada early Wednesday afternoon to head back. Traffic was heavy, but unlike our escape from NOLA, at least this time we had air conditioning. We barreled our way down 55 South until traffic finally slowed to a crawl and were were forced to rethink our route. With my friend Jen in charge of the road atlas, we hopped onto a service road and quickly came to a two-lane highway leading pretty much right down into Louisiana. It wasn't long before we were on the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway (the longest bridge in the world) and almost home.

We arrived at dusk, just in time to find we had no electricity. We'd also heard on the radio that there was a curfew in place, so finding someplace to go for food or cool air was out of the question. We spent a hellish night sprawled out trying to stay cool and get some rest.

My roommates arrived home the next day. They had gotten stuck on another route and ended up in the middle of Baton Rouge, without gas, in the middle of this night, in the middle of a curfew.

We cruised the neighborhood to check out the damage, noting that the National Guard were stationed in front of all the Rite Aid stores. Rite Aid was hit harder by looters during Katrina than Walgreen's. Why? Well, because Walgreen's doesn't sell beer or booze. It's nice to know that someone was protecting all that alcohol.

Overall, power was still out for most of the area, trees were down, windows blown out. In fact, my roommate lost two panes of her window to the storm. Thankfully, that was the extent of our damage.

It seems our voodoo dance must have worked after all. Never underestimate the power of a rubber alligator. Thanks, Boudreaux.

Thursday afternoon we left our steamy house and headed over to the Maple Leaf, hearing that they had electricity . . . and food. Indeed, in an incredible display of generosity, the Leaf had been feeding the entire neighborhood with free food all week. Patrons at the Leaf seemed tired of being without power in their own homes, but genuinely happy to be back.

Thursday also brought another night of hot, sleepless discomfort. By mid-afternoon on Friday, however, as we all lay around sweating and stinking, the power was finally restored. We whooped and cheered and immediately turned the AC on.

It's Sunday now. Power has been restored to many parts of the city, but the streetcar still isn't running, and I miss hearing it rumble by my house.

Things are slowly getting back to normal. People are coming back, city workers and residents are clearing debris, and New Orleans is getting back to business as usual.

I worry about New Orleans as I watch Hurricane Ike. While our Gusta-vacation went smoothly, I've heard numerous people say they wouldn't do it again, that they'll take their chances with a storm. This kind of complacency will inevitably lead to another Katrina-like debacle, and I only hope that Mother Nature is kind to us for the rest of this hurricane season.

As for me, I'm still watching Ike. He's looking like he's going to Texas, but I'm keeping a close eye on him anyway, just in case he changes his mind. I will not be complacent. Should Ike appear ready to visit Louisiana, my ass is hitting the highway . . . again.

I worried a great deal last week that Gustav would close the book on New Orleans for me. For now, at least, I take comfort in knowing that for both of us, NOLA and me, the story goes on.

1 comment:

lisamearl said...

If (God forbid) you ever have to evacuate again...just keep driving to Austin. There's no blood on the curtains here... Well, maybe just down by Rundberg Lane...but not in my neighborhood. :D