Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Louisiana Lagniappe

This weekend I'm heading to Baton Rouge, or as Mama likes to say,
"Bat-tawn Rewge," in the manner of a Southern belle who's had one too many mint juleps, only we all know that wouldn't be the case with my mama because let us never forget that the taste of a mere thimble-full of alcohol makes her fingers go numb and thus renders her incapable of cutting her food.

I can't help but be nostalgic about BR - after all, it's home to all our newlywed stomping grounds, and looking back, my three years down there had a major impact on my life. I don't ever want to live in south Louisiana again, mind you - no humans should have to suffer in such humidity - but I have so many great memories that I can't wait to get back and see a few of my favorite sights. I also can't wait for the food - because while New Orleans gets all the glory for great restaurants, I'm partial to BR in that regard. Which reminds me: when David and I first moved to Birmingham, we went out for supper, took one bite, looked at each other and said, "Where's the flavor?" Our taste buds had grown so accustomed to red pepper and Tony's that we had forgotten you could cook without it.

Anyway - here are the places I'd like to at least drive by on my weekend jaunt to the Red Stick:

1. Westmoreland Drive - This is where David and I lived the first year we were married. Before we got married we thought it would be so fun and grown-up to rent a little house. Through some contacts at his work, David found a place. We were so excited. And so naive. We didn't take several things into consideration, specifically that if a hospital is on one end of a street and two drugstores are on the other end, odds are that there will be a high level of traffic. Also, if I had a dollar for every person who wheeled by our house in a stolen wheelchair from the hospital, I would have had an excellent foundation for Alex's college fund. The foot/wheelchair traffic, combined with the couple who lived next door and had LOUD, SCREAMING FIGHTS meant that we only stayed there a year. In regard to the McFightersons next door, I've never in my life seen or heard anything like it, but MANY nights I tip-toed out on our screened-in porch and pulled up a seat to watch the action, with the most memorable moment being when Guy #1 threw every single piece of Guy #2's clothes out on the front lawn, then shoved Guy#2 out on the front porch and slammed that door so hard that my teeth rattled. Good times.

2. Burgundy Drive - This is where we bought our first house. We found it one Sunday afternoon when we were riding around to different open houses, and we fell in love with it immediately. It was so cute, had such great curb appeal, and the price was awesome. In retrospect I realize that it must have been approaching dusk when we first went through the house - that's the only thing that could explain how we overlooked so many obvious defects. The day before closing, when we went for our walk-through, David slumped to the living room floor, looked around and said, "Um, can we get out of this?" Thanks to Sister, who did a great treatment on the bathroom walls (because when I tried to pull off the 5 layers of old wallpaper, the wall came with it), and David, who painted like a champ, we actually made that little house a home - sloping kitchen floor, one-foot wide hallway and all. Best part about that house? Our neighbors, the Boudreauxs. No doubt about it.

3. Ninfa's - Best Mexican restaurant on the planet. Chips and green sauce. The end.

4. Parkview Baptist School - I worked at PBS all three years that I lived in BR. When I started there, I hated it. HATED IT. I didn't want to go back after Christmas break, and did I mention that I hated it? I felt like I didn't fit in...I was such a Mississippi girl who thought I had to have a scarf on with everything, and I felt like nobody there "got" me. Finally one day a sub - who happened to be from Jackson - picked up on how obviously miserable I was and said, "Honey, it's gonna be okay. I know it's hard - these are the most, um, casual people I've ever known in my life. But you hang in there." I'm so glad I did. I ended up loving the people there, learning more than I ever anticipated, and developing great relationships with the kids I taught. PBS was a life-changing experience for me. In all the best ways.

5. A Certain Office Building on Jefferson Highway - David worked for the same company during his seven years in BR. Some of those times were good, and some of those times - eh, not so much. But I am absolutely certain that, if not for that office on Jefferson Highway, we wouldn't be where we are right now. David learned so much - about how to run a business and how not to run a business. But more than anything, that office gave us lifelong friends in B & B - so even the whole "Hey! There won't be paychecks this week!" ordeal seems way worth it.

I don't know if any of these places will be like I remember - but I have no doubt that I have a fun weekend in store. Even better, it's only February - which means that All The Heat & Humidity is still months away, and for that I am deeply, deeply thankful. I'll keep y'all posted.


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