Never in a million years would I have expected to spend my 25th anniversary in a bar watching a pool tournament. But you never know what fun you can have unless you stay open to all that life has to offer. Now that our kids are grown and gone (sort of), David and I are determined to embrace life and take things a bit less seriously. That’s part of why we are enjoying our trips to New Orleans so much. It’s pretty hard not to have fun in a place like that.
On the evening of our anniversary, Bryan and Debi, our new-found friends from New Orleans, picked us up and drove us across the river to a restaurant called Schnell’s. Apparently it’s been a local favorite for many, many years. It doesn’t look like much – vinyl floors, tables and chairs which appear to have been there since it first opened. Not at all the linen tablecloth sort of place I generally favor. However, I also really like to sample local cuisine and our friends assured us that Schnell’s had great food. They recommended the grilled roast beef po’boy and onion rings. We took their suggestion and OH. MY. GOODNESS! The onion rings were huge and had the lightest, crispiest coating I have ever tasted. And the po’boy was so good it was almost a religious experience. Crusty French bread, buttered and grilled, then topped with layers and layers of roast beef. Cheese melted over the roast beef and then the whole thing dressed with lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise. One of the messiest things I have ever eaten but entirely worth the number of napkins necessary.
Even though it took a very long time for our food to arrive and the waitress wasn’t exactly inspiring, we greatly enjoyed the opportunity to get to know Debi and Bryan better, as well as their four charming, well-behaved kids. Even the seven year old was very patient about the long wait. What a pleasure to be in the company of such delightful young people. Debi and Bryan surprised us with a lovely anniversary card and a beautiful silver picture frame. We were quite touched by their thoughtfulness.
After the meal, Debi and Bryan’s oldest daughter, Summer, took the kids with her while the adults headed off to Jack’s, a rather seedy looking bar complete with designated Harley parking out front. They are in a pool league and play every Sunday afternoon and Tuesday evening. David likes to watch pool on television so he was rather excited about the opportunity to watch them play. It was fun to meet some of their friends and relatives who are on their team. I especially enjoyed chatting with Debi’s sister-in-law, Kathy. What a hoot! When Debi told her what we had eaten for dinner she remarked that the best way to eat one of those drippy, roast beef sandwiches was “naked in the bathtub”. Nearly everyone else was drinking beer, something I have never liked. A couple of people had cans of Diet Coke so I opted for that, too. Everyone kept offering me beer but honestly, I just don’t like the taste. Debi wanted to buy me a drink since it was our anniversary and asked if there was a mixed drink I would prefer.
Well, here I was already feeling just a wee bit conspicuous in my skirt and heels while everyone else was in jeans, shorts, and t-shirts. I’m not much of a drinker but the cocktail I happen to like is a cosmopolitan. Yeah, right. Like I’ll really blend in with the crowd perched on a stool in my skirt, sipping a cosmo in a martini glass. Besides, from the look of the things, I doubted the young woman tending bar would know how to make one. But Debi was determined and quite certain that if I knew the ingredients in a cosmo, the bartender could make one. What the heck…this could be interesting. I told the bartender that a cosmo contained vodka, triple sec, and cranberry juice and she cheerfully attempted to concoct her first one. I watched in amusement as she spent several minutes looking for the cranberry juice then proceded to make my drink in a highball glass instead of a martini glass (I’m sure they didn’t have such a thing). First she filled it with ice cubes then poured totally random quantities of the three ingredients into the tall glass. Finally she stirred it and served it proudly, ice and all.
David especially enjoyed watching everyone shoot pool and I just knew he was itching to pick up a cue stick. After the scheduled matches (is that what they are called in pool?) David got to play a few games. He did surprisingly well and I knew that as soon as we got home he would be cleaning off our long unused pool table in the guest house.
Afterwards, Bryan and Debi drove us back to the French Quarter by way of their neighborhood. They live in a fairly compact little subdivision where they are related to or at least friends with a large number of their neighbors. Debi has lived in that neighborhood since she was two years old! It reminded me a bit of how I grew up with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins next door and nearby. I think that is a wonderful way of life for kids and theirs are fortunate to have this experience.
Despite being fairly late, we all decided to head to the Tropical Isle for a nightcap. This is the bar where our friends’ band, Debi and The Deacons, have performed for the past thirteen years. (Did you notice I just learned how to put links in my blog? Thank you, Chris.) One of the things we so enjoy about this place is how friendly everyone is. It’s rather fun to be able to walk into a bar on Bourbon Street and have the bartenders seem genuinely happy to see you, not to mention, call you by name. Yes, we have spent a LOT of time there on our recent trips.
We spent perhaps an hour or so at Tropical Isle before finally deciding to call it a night. We walked the few blocks to their minivan (yes, even rock stars drive minivans) and then they dropped us off in front of our hotel before heading back over the Huey Long bridge. It had been a most unusual way to spend an anniversary but we enjoyed it immensely. Many thanks to Bryan and Debi for helping us celebrate in such a memorable way.