Friday, 14 November 2014

Grand Designs, Part 3 (Before the Fall)

Next stop was walking along a street that looked like this...

In order to get myself in contact with a bottle that looked like this.

If you try this, and Denise is your bartender, tell her I say hello.
Absinthe is a vice of mine.  I've tried every type that I've been able to lay hands on so far, from the B.C. made Taboo absinthe to generic Lucid, bottles who's labels I couldn't fully read, and eventually my very favourite bottle in the whole world so far, Vieux Pontarlier (link).  I likes me some absinthe.  Pirate's Alley had a bottle custom made for New Orleans and imported from France, so... that was something I pretty clearly had to try.

I'm... pretty sure she poured me a double.  Pouring someone a double is dangerous when the alcohol you're pouring is 120-proof (60%).  I stayed there for awhile and geeked out on absinthe with her, partly because it was fun and partly because if I'd tried to stand up I likely would've wobbled.  Remember... an hour before this I had just finished drinking 4 shots of rum.

My lovely bartender Denise suggested I hit karaoke at a local place later that night, gave me the coordinates, and sent me on my staggering happy way.  The hotel was 2 blocks away and when walking, I felt surprisingly steady.  I got back to the hotel, took the cigar and matches and rum out of my backpack, filled up a flask and went up onto the balcony.

Pride, as they say, always comes before the fall.

I lit the cigar and took a few pulls - I knew not to inhale into my lungs, but other than that it was the first cigar I've ever smoked (and only the 2nd nicotine product - I smoked part of one cigarette once about 3 years ago).  That cigar and that rum really, really, really paired well.  The jazz wafted up from a band playing in Jackson Square, and for a moment I felt like I had found the perfect expression of my time in New Orleans... happily tipsy, enjoying a luxury I never even considered before, sitting in ridiculously humid summer weather and listening to the notes of a city that knew what it looked like to just play for the sake of playing.

Feeling like a boss lasted about 10 minutes.

About 1/4 of the cigar went away - maybe 1/3rd.  The jazz paused, and I thought this was a good time to withdraw to the hotel room.  Maybe I'd take a nap before I went out to karaoke...


Nope.  Actually I'd get back to my hotel room and get violently, unpleasantly ill.  The nicotine, the absinthe, the rum, the coffee, the rich food, the fragility that comes with travelling to new places, the heat, the humidity, some shell of health I was surrounded by cracked, and the pressure of all my recent lifestyle choices flooded in all at once.  I purged until I was empty.  I realized that the smell of cigar smoke had absolutely permeated all of the clothes I was wearing and washed them each several times in the sink, with a generous helping of soap (to no avail).  I hung them to try and then laid down in misery, and tried to sleep.

Hours later I went out to get food and fought nausea back the whole time.  I did make it to karaoke eventually (didn't sing, didn't see Denise or any other familiar faces there), but it was a token effort and was fixed in a cloud of perpetual sickness.  I went back to the hotel and accepted that I'd had as much fun as I was going to have in New Orleans.  The next morning I was on a train to Washington, DC.

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