Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The big New Orleans question

Someone from Massachusetts asked me the other day  as we sat at a bar in South Carolina  what a poboy was.

“A long, sub-like sandwich,” I said, a good steward for my hometown.

“So why don’t you call it a sub sandwich?” he asked.

“Well, because it’s a little different,” I said. Then I thought for a minute. 

“The meat is usually hot.”

Really. Hot meat was the only differentiator I could think of.

Massachusetts raised an eyebrow.

“You know, like hot roast beef, or hot fried oysters, hot shrimp, hot catfish..." I trailed off, worried he wouldn't get the distinction.

“And the bread isn’t like the foot-long bread from Subway. It’s fresh and flaky.”

“So it’s like a grinder?” he said.

I blinked.

“Grinder? Like the app for gay guys??”

(Hot meat...)

He laughed and then looked uncomfortable (hahaha) and said NO, where he’s from, they call a poboy a grinder.

“I don’t think it’s going to work out between us,” I said.


Just kidding.

It was for way more reasons than that one.


Now that I live back in South Carolina after living in New Orleans for three years, I forgot about these New Orleans questions people ask.

It’s like getting dumb twin questions over and over again.

“Do you have the same dad?” “Have you ever been to Mardi Gras??”

 “If I pinch you, does she feel it?” “Is it still all flooded down there?”

Like my twin sister Joy and I, when asked twin questions, I have learned how to expertly handle these inquires.

“Yes, I’ve been to almost 30 Mardi Gras celebrations. It’s my favorite time of the year.”

“No, it’s not flooded anymore…unless you live in an area called  ‘Plack-a-minz’ Parish and it’s been raining.”

(They wear shrimp boots.)

Of course, the biggest dumb New Orleans question I get is whether or not I miss it.

Of COURSE I miss it!


It’s the music mostly.

You don’t realize how much you love music until you leave and suddenly there’s no more music.

Well, no more music that’s not a cover band.

It’s an odd feeling – this yearning for New Orleans music. 

I know it's really a yearning for New Orleans, missing it vicariously through the music.

But it hits you out of nowhere.  You could be minding your own business browsing iTunes when a preview of the song “At the Foot of Canal Street” comes on and you tear up.

Not just tears, but choking tears. 

Like unexpectedly stumbling across a picture of you and a friend you don’t speak with anymore, both of you standing together, arms around each other. 

It hits you like a ton of bricks. 

That’s how I've been missing New Orleans. 

And I don't even LIKE Canal Street that much!

But rather than explain it this way, I smile and say, “Yes. Yes, I miss it a lot.”

Maybe I’ll make a poboy tonight.

Extra hot meat.


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