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.
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.