Sunday, August 31: My daughter promises me tickets to Merle Haggard, who’s appearing at Cypress Bayou Casino. After 14 phone calls and 50 text messages, Don Allen and I pick them up at the desk. They are nice seats and we can see Merle. We’re just not sure if he can see us. He is 77 and wearing dark glasses.
I have been looking forward to this all summer. I am from Oklahoma and so is Merle. He’s been married five times and served time in San Quentin. All Oklahoma men are like this. I get homesick.
The performance is sold out and the chairs are chock a block. The audience is mostly bikers, cowboys, and a lot of women. The biker in back of us taps me on the shoulder and tells me Don’s lost.
Merle gets busy and sings “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink.” The audience takes his advice. One man yells out, “Stay with us, Merle!” I think he means keep breathing. Merle sings almost every song he knows, including “Mama Tried” and “Okie from Muskogee.” He said it sounded better when marijuana was illegal and asks the audience if it’s legal in Louisiana. The audience lies.
It’s his last song. There’s no encore, the restaurants are now closed in the casino and Don can’t find the car in the parking lot. It’s okay because he looks like Merle Haggard with his sunglasses on.
When the phone rang, I had a foreboding of disaster. It was the Puerto Rican. He didn’t call often anymore, not since he took that suit and briefcase job for a corporate bridal mill. Two things a Latin man knows– women and women.
I wondered what he could want since he had to know I wasn’t buying what he was selling. No wedding dresses for me, that ship sailed a long time ago. Twice. The first time I was too young to know any better. The next time I wasn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I like men. They just don’t agree with me.
“You will not believe this,” he said. Try me.
It seems someone wanted to do a little business with him. They just didn’t know you don’t do business with The Puerto Rican, he does business with you. If he likes you, you know it and if he doesn’t, you know that too.
“I think we might need a guy like you to help us out,” the letter began. “As you know, we’re making diapers.”
I knew the Puerto Rican well. He had his hand in a lot of dirty things, but diapers wasn’t one of them.
“You might fall right into this or you might just tell me it’s not your thing,” it continued. “Either way, you’ll be the one to know.”
Maybe it’s me, but falling into diapers could land a guy on a slippery slope.
Third Week in August: Former NFL cornerback and motivational speaker Reggie Jones comes through Lafayette and stops briefly at Kiki to sign his book, Stilettos on Gridiron: A Woman’s Guide to the Game. He says football is like relationships. You have team players and selfish players. What you want to get are two team players, but what you usually get is a team player and a selfish player or two selfish players. There are also alliances that you must solidify and a mutual mission. Whoever said football players aren’t smart needs to rethink that. I buy the book.
Petroleum Club holds its 2014 Kick Off luncheon presented by 103.7 The Game to benefit the Boys and Girls Clubs of Acadiana. Jake Delhomme, Jim Hawthorne, Jordy Hultberg, Dave Schultz and others talk about the upcoming football season in South Louisiana. I did not solidify any alliances. I read more of Reggie’s book later, and learn there are “role players” and “star players” on every team, as well as personalities. Don Allen is a cocky player. I am a star player, society’s quarterback.
RCAF holds its Kick Off fundraiser at the Cajundome Convention Center to benefit its coaching staff and million-dollar Mark Hudspeth. Don Allen and I have a locker room fight.
Second week in August: My daughter buys a house.
General Manager Mike Mitchell from KLAF TV suggests that in honor of 30 years of high school football broadcasting, “Voice of the Cajuns” Don Allen and “The Professor” Jay Walker meet again for the first televised game of the season. This sounds a lot like Mexican wrestling.
Don and I have dinner at Ruth’s Chris with my daughter to celebrate her house. We run into Judge Susan Theall and her assistant, who are having trouble with their campaign signs. Someone keeps tipping them over. Cow tipping is one thing but judge tipping is another and you can be fined $1000 for criminal damage. Cows won’t cost you as much unless you have them at Ruth’s Chris.
To celebrate the 250th anniversary or Napoleon’s birth, the Krewe of Bonaparte has a party at LaFonda. Now that’s real Mexican wrestling.
July 31: My daughter’s boyfriend leaves for Qatar. She decides to buy a house.
I have lunch at the Petroleum Club, and notice that Superintendent Pat Cooper and Assistant Superintendent Sandra Billeaudeau do also. Apparently this was not one of the cuts made by the School Board.
August 1: I am invited to a pre-wedding party at the home of Jimmy and Sherry Andrus. What makes this extra-special is the groom used to play in the sandbox with my daughter. He’s now a corporate pilot and this is his second trip down the aisle. My daughter is 0 for 2.
Grace Notes invites me to attend one of their etiquette seminars at Van Eaton & Romero. Many of the realtors are already seated when I arrive. I introduce myself and add that my daughter is looking for a house.
“I still don’t know how to operate everything,” said The Boss, getting out of her late-model luxury car.
Right, and Bill Gates can’t operate his computer either.
I guess I live in the past. They sure don’t make them like they used to. Luxury used to mean a Cadillac and 12 miles to the gallon if you didn’t run the air conditioner. I never ask questions about their finances. I can look at their heels and know the score. The Boss had it in spades.
Jolie’s was a fancy joint that took itself very seriously. White tablecloths and art surrounded a big open bar, while off to one side was a private dining alcove presided over by a nude painting. Impressive, but still a bar.
There was one thing you could say for The Boss, she had presence. All of the men turned to look at her. Most hoped she’d notice them and those who’d wronged her hoped she wouldn’t. We ordered drinks. “To fast cars and fast men,” I said. She liked that and I liked her. I get tired of talking man-to-man with men.
She’d had a dust-up with The Puerto Rican and was back from a private jet trip to Houston where one of her pals had gone missing. “She took it well,” said The Boss. “Not everyone would.”
Then one by one they started to file past—judges, businessmen, doctors, the hustlers.
“How are you, Sharon.”
“Buy you a drink, Miss Moss?”
What is this, a class reunion? Whatever it is, it’s a long way from Waynoka.
The Redhead was having a party. I had prayed for rain and low temperatures but I noticed the Lord hadn’t answered as I flashed my ID to the guard at the gate. He looked at it for a long time, went into the lodge and reading from my card, spoke briefly on the phone. Then he came back, pressed a button, and the barrier came up.
“Have a good evening,” he said.
The road wound its way beside long, high walls, manicured lawns and golf cart crossings. A single right turn brought me to her door.
I saw immediately it was an interesting group. The Italian was there, of course, along with an ex- newspaper publisher and her husband, The Redhead’s mother, a decorator and a washed-up sportswriter. By the way, a bottle of bourbon and a sportswriter will get you everywhere.
I knew the Redhead meant business. She’d unpacked the Lalique and done the cooking herself. It was a holiday feast, a regular Christmas in July–even The Redhead herself was in green. She was leaving soon for Europe and this was her last hurrah until the luau she intended to give in a month or two. Some pig’s number was already up.
I leaned back on a neat little sofa with a high back, making myself look relaxed. More champagne opened. I sipped my drink and glanced around the room.
No one saw the karaoke coming.
Last Weekend in June: My daughter’s boyfriend comes and goes. Again.
The first Moms & Me Expo takes over the Town Square in River Ranch. There are live princesses and lines of little girls out to the street. The Anna and Elsa impersonators refuse to give their names and their princess rep intervenes, saying it ruins the mystique. Princess Belle whispers hers, Claire Varnado. Radio’s C.J. and Debbie Ray are there, Debbie says hello but he doesn’t. Princess.
02 Face & Body Spa and Taylor Your Look opens also in River Ranch to a packed crowd. If you’re not a princess, you can still look like one. The men did not let one another out of their sight.
I watch Ironclad with Don Allen. If you were a princess in medieval times, you had to marry Derek Jacobi instead of James Purefoy.
Last week of June: My daughter’s boyfriend leaves again.
Penny Edwards says she’ll give a turkey dinner instead of a luau in a few weeks, sort of a Christmas in July. Giblets instead of leis, still potentially the party of the year.
The 705 has its Learn & Lunch at the City Club. Dr. Derrick Hines speaks on modern movement and pain, and says only 8% of jobs today are considered active. Journalism is not one of them. He also teaches and practices Medical Dry Needling. I tell him an acupuncturist once gave me a diagnosis of “too many difficult men.” He says there is no needle big enough for that one.
I watch Boondock Saints with Don Allen. According to the movie, the cure is actually pretty simple.
I invite my daughter’s new boyfriend to a get-acquainted dinner at Café Bella.
Penny Edwards calls for her party photos so she can publish in Le Triomphe’s neighborhood magazine, Behind the Gate. I like that name. She intends to give a luau in October featuring Cirk Romero, a former Maui chef who moonlights as a floor finisher. Potentially the party of the year.
Sacred Heart’s Dancing with the Stars gears up. It’s not until next October, but it takes them that long to practice. There’s something entertaining about regular people dancing, and this event has to move to the Cajundome Convention Center this year. Cane River’s Jady Regard says he had to decline because October is pecan season and it would drive him nuts. AcA’s Gerd Wuestemann says when the sisters ask, you can’t say no. Just in case.
I watch M. Night Shyamalan’s Devil with Don Allen, a movie about five people stuck in an elevator and one of them is Satan. The socialite is the last to go and suffers the most. By the way, the Devil can apparently take many forms.