In New Orleans on a Friday, Galatoire’s is THE place to go for lunch. The restaurant doesn’t take bookings and so those in the know hire a dissolute to stand in line for them from 6am. Only this way can they be sure to secure a table. Usually we have our own dissolute and so we haven’t cultivated the necessary relationship with Bourbon Street’s down and outs. Until now, the following plan has worked for us: one of our party turns up around 10am and buys a Bloody Mary from a nearby bar. This provides nourishment and succour while standing in the street. Eventually a man with a clipboard will make his way down the line, taking names that will be matched with tables when the restaurant opens at 11am. I was there at 9:36 this morning, well in advance of the two married couples with whom I am traveling. Imagine my dismay when the maitre d’ emerged to tell me he couldn’t seat five, only four. Martyrdom flows through my blood like a breakfast Bloody Mary and so I nobly added Tom’s name to the list.
I joined the party in the bar for a milk punch but felt it wise to slip away before they were seated and I was thrown out. At the door I turned to give them a wistful wave. This was a mistake. Nobody saw.
So where does a girl go when she needs to talk and her gay friends are busy with something hot and Cajun? Why, to the hairdresser of course. Muriel works in a salon on Iberville Street in the Quarter. She is peri menopausal and has two grown sons. She had gestational diabetes and her first was very ill when he was born. They didn’t think he would make it but he did and he now works alongside Muriel in the salon. She had the second one by C section.
I had time to find out all of this as Muriel curled and teased and pinned my hair into a style she swore would suit me and could withstand a damp and humid day in New Orleans. After about an hour she swung my chair around so I could see myself in the salon mirror. “I look like a drag queen,” I gasped. “Honey, this is New Orleans.”Muriel replied.
I left the salon in a cloud of hairspray. “That hair ain’t moving, it ain’t going nowhere” Muriel called after me. Au contraire, I and my beehive tottered to the Bourbon House for a frozen Bourbon punch–they add icecream to the milk.
Then it was time to rejoin the others at Galatoire’s for a Cafe Brulot. They were seated by the ladies loo and, tongues well lubricated, were providing a commentary on the attire and accessories of every Southern Belle going to and fro. I am pleased to say my hairstyle rendered them speechless.