The phone rang. It was The Italian and she wanted to talk business.
“I think The Boss and The Puerto Rican should bury the hatchet,” she said. The Italian was never one to wait for a green light.
“In each other?” I asked.
Unfortunately I was already familiar with the business she was talking about. The Italian wanted certain plans to go off without a hitch and what the Italian wanted usually went. She had a way of calling in favors.
“How’s that possible? I asked again.
“I’d hoped you’d take care of that detail for me,” she said.
Trouble was, The Boss needed The Puerto Rican like a mob informant needs the East River. They’d faced off before and neither were known for backing down. But recent events had made it necessary for the two of them to come together for the greater good.
The Italian was silent. There are people who can do that, who can put you on notice just by being quiet.
“I’ll let you know how it goes,” I said. She hung up.
Right, and if it doesn’t go well, I won’t need to let her know. She’ll be able to hear the sirens from her living room.
Early November: My hard drive dies and I must say I have cried less over men. LUS Fiber is attacked on election night and everyone else at The Acadiana Advocate cries too. So does District Attorney Mike Harson.
Edwin Edwards makes the runoff and at his election party the band plays Folsom Prison Blues.
The Horse Farm gives a $500 per couple gala and there are real horses there, the mounted police, and David Vitter. There is one narrow dirt road in and the same narrow dirt road out. The invitation says outdoor chic, and there are lots of cowboy boots. No one is trampled.
The Symphony launches their Death by Chocolate event at the Petroleum Club, a locale that was never designed to handle the crowd that shows up. A board member asks me to bolt the side exit even though I’m pretty sure the fire marshal would object. Death by trampling is a real possibility.
Triton has their royalty party. When you segregate the sexes you’re asking for trouble.
Last Week in October: I drive out to Lafayette Animal Aid to do interviews. Every year, I look for a charitable endeavor for the upcoming holidays, and this year Read to Animals is it. I meet Mohawk. Mohawk is a biker cat. You can always tell.
The March of Dimes has its Roaring 20’s Gala and Signature Chef’s Auction. The combination of costumes and the ballroom at the Petroleum Club is straight out of Titanic, but the only urgency is in the buffet line. Lead Chef Mark Alleman is the cat’s meow.
Penny Edwards hosts an All Hallow’s Eve party. The scary part is the line of cars trying to get into Le Triomphe to go trick or treating. Penny’s dressed as a witch, forgets she’s cutting the cheesecake, and answers the door with a large knife. Trick or treating thins after that, but the real scare of the evening is Col. Rob Maness’s call-in to KPEL’s Go Acadiana with Dr. John and Ken Romero.
A Krewe of Bonaparte member calls to un-invite me to a party she’s already invited me to and says she’s sure I’ll understand.
Do I look like I understand?
Late October: I am overlooked by the Lourdes Foundation this year but picked up by The Beaux Arts Ball. I have never been to this event before, hosted by the University’s College of the Arts, but the theme is water and there are costumes. I go as the Black Sea. It means I don’t need to change.
Dean Gordon Brooks has dressed up as Poseidon and assistant dean Michael McClure as The Atchafalaya Swamp. There are lots of mermaids, old and young. I thought mermaids stayed perennially youthful but no. There is a very pretty Oyster Girl and some not so pretty oil spills. Some faculty members are fishing for donations.
The UL Jazz ensemble plays and I can’t hear what famous photographer Philip Gould says to me. All I hear is “bad” and “work” and hope he’s saying it’s too bad I have to work. Raoul Blanco posts my picture to Facebook and starts counting the likes. At least he says there are likes. He also says he’s the Black Swan and must help judge the awards. He picks the light-up submarine and Oyster Girl for first place. He also reports that River Oaks has decorated the men’s room with burlesque and asks if I want a photo.
Oh, hell yes.
I ate a lonely dinner.
Reporters have souls, same as anyone else. My feet hurt, that’s the good word. Then a message arrived, except it was a number I didn’t recognize. I like good stuff, I thought. Maybe this is my lucky day.
“Are you planning to be at my next two events?” It said. Who’s asking? He wasn’t too smart. I like that in a man.
A woman will give her name but a man will always assume you know who he is, that you’ve filed his number away for safekeeping. Other times he’ll give you his first name, as if there can be only one Rob or Bob or Bill. I’ve had men’s number for a long time.
“Yes and no,” I said, and hit reply. Let’s see what you’re made of, sport. I don’t make deals.
The next message was from a woman who gave her name up front, discreetly asking if I knew an out-of-town divorce attorney for her society friend. Seems the lady finally had enough of the husband and his stray cat strut and wanted to make sure she got what was coming to her.
“I know you know everybody,” she said.
You bet. He’ll get what’s coming to him too, sweetheart.
Second Week in October: Triton gives a party on Rue Catholique in Carencro. Not even the Pope could find this. They told me 11 but the party is actually at 12, so no one is there. Queen Triton is wearing a football jersey and King Triton doesn’t have his crown. They didn’t know I was coming. Triton is a men’s krewe. Men never see it coming.
Friends of the Humanities holds a nice luncheon at the Petroleum Club and Provost Jim Henderson attends with the deans. Liberal arts is the best college education you can have, and my daughter and I both have one. When mothers ask me what my daughter does with her English major, I answer, “Anything she wants to.” Which is pretty much what my daughter does. Whatever she wants.
Attorney Warren Perrin hosts a Festival party for foreign dignitaries and many chic French-speaking people are there. Warren wages a one-man campaign against the word coonass. Saying this isn’t nice, and neither is the French word it comes from. So stop it.
Judy Dunn hosts a cocktail benefit for Animal Aid called Bark in the Dark. I already have a rescue cat. Rescue animals can sometimes have issues and don’t like it when you leave. Waffles sleeps with one eye open. Like Nam.
Late September-Early October: Apollo has its announcement party and its theme this year is Cirque de Soleil. Lafayette General Medical Center has its carnival fundraiser. There were bearded ladies at both.
Don Allen and I stop at Royal Panda for dinner. I tell proprietor Tony Liu how much I enjoyed the sake, and he brings out a bottle of Summer Snow. Tony says tasting different sake types is expected. Summer Snow is unfiltered sake and very cloudy, hence its name. There are styles of sake: ginjo (rice polished to 60%) junmai (no alcohol added) honjozo (alcohol added) and nigori (hasn’t been filtered.) This is nigori ginjo. It is 18% alcohol. Don likes it.
The bottle reads “A deluxe label for nigori fans, this unfiltered sake is voluptuously rich and brimming with exuberant flavor.” Don has some more and is brimming with exuberance. He begins to growl, “Sake!” and “Hai!” By now, the sediment has settled, and looks like snow in the bottom of the bottle. After a third glass, he becomes imperious.
Don-san is sent home.
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.