Last week in September: I go with Don Allen to Santa’s Soiree, the Junior League’s Tinsel & Treasure’s VIP social-shopping party. An ex tennis pro confronts me, saying he was deeply offended by my society column because I said rich people play tennis and he was going to write me a stern letter. I thought tennis players jumped the net, not women. He lives in River Ranch. People there are rich.
Don ends up buying fried pecans, supposedly from an organic farm in Alexandria. That makes fried nuts alright.
I have lunch at Café Bella in the Oil Center with attorney Judy Kennedy. I’ll bet owner Jack Ainsworth plays tennis. So does Judy.
I return to Tinsel & Treasures to cover their luncheon and style show on Friday. Sharon Moss is the sponsor. By the way, I apologize for saying the University wrote her a parking ticket at the Cajun Tennis Classic; turns out they wrote one to The Advocate instead. Interestingly, the stern tennis guy once gave Sharon lessons. She’s rich. The Duchess of Cambridge plays tennis and she’s very rich. Forbes Magazine has a Rich Tennis Players List.
By the way, critic and Harvard Ph.D John Simon says male tennis players lack charm. So do male Harvard Ph.D’s.
Third Week in September: The Cajun Tennis Classic returns to Lafayette and kicks off the week with a Pro-Am at City Club on Sunday. UL at Lafayette is ranked #8 among the college teams scheduled to play. I take a picture of Pierre Ros. I forget the other teams.
Round of 32 Championship Singles Play begins at UL Cajun Courts. No one has told me Lemoine Construction has blocked the road and the University has forbidden anyone to park. Presenting sponsor Sharon Moss gets a ticket. I don’t, and finally locate the VIP Area where City Bar’s Ryan Vellion provides the biggest and best mimosa I’ve ever seen. The players have eaten all the food. Pierre Ros is not there.
City Club at River Ranch hosts the Taste of Louisiana Gala for the Classic sponsors and players. General manager Alan Jacobs says tennis players sure eat a lot. I sit next to Raoul Blanco, who has seconds. I don’t think he even plays tennis. I look forward to seeing Pierre Ros again next year.
Second Week in September: I turn down a fashion show at Ruffino’s for an interview, and Karen Fontenot invites me to meet Viet Nam veteran and retired USMC Sgt. Maj. Doug Lyvere, who is making a marathon tour of all Viet Nam memorials including Alaska. Lyvere has an American flag on his bike, a helmet that says Semper Fi, and more patches than Sons of Anarchy. It is hotter than Viet Nam at the Veterans Park.
Road guard Dwayne Guidry has a great bike too, a bright yellow job accented with strands of black barbed wire and military insignia. A road guard travels with a pack of bikers and stops traffic at intersections so they can continue en masse. In England, my daughter says motorists yell at you when you do this. I see why Scotland wants to secede.
It is an honor to meet Lyvere and I explain my father was an artillery colonel who volunteered for three tours in Nam. Viet Nam vet Karen Fontenot marvels that I remember so much about the war since I “must have been so young.” I let her think that. They let me sign the flag Lyvere’s carrying on behalf of my father. My pilot ex-husband was also in Nam, but I’d sooner sign for Ho Chi Minh.
There is a lovely honor guard and procession led by Tom Green of American Legion Post 69, and lots of ants, just like the jungle. Incidentally, a couple of Lafayette society men think I was a war correspondent in Viet Nam. I was far too young. Ask Karen Fontenot.
Early September: My daughter’s boyfriend comes back from Qatar. She says not to post his photo. He doesn’t bring me anything. Women in this country are free to do whatever they want.
Don Allen and I have dinner at The Royal Panda. I order plum wine like always and after one swallow, I realize the waitress has poured sake. I ask her about the mistake and she says there was no English on the label. Custom dictates you must not refuse sake or it’s an insult to the host. The owner says this is high-end society sake from Baton Rouge and I must take the bottle home. He gives me a sake glass also. Good sake tastes grassy, mostly because rice is grass. This is good sake.
Designer Raoul Blanco calls and we have lunch at Café Habana. Latin lunches are several hours long and don’t end before two flans and the waiter begins to clean up around you.
I get a Norwegian postcard from Penny Edwards, Edwin’s sister-in-law. She says she is forever bonded to fjord country. By the way, you also have to drink sake immediately, because it’s not going to keep. A bottle must be drunk within hours. I notice the label looks a lot like the skeleton on my Dennis Sipiorski vase. I am forever bonded to sake country.
You drink sake kamikaze-style ; recklessly and with no questions.
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.