Date:         Wed, 8 Mar 1995 23:29:13 EDT
From: gilbertsmith <gsmith@social.chass.ncsu.edu>
Subject:      WHTMINO 1
To: Multiple recipients of list WORDS-L <words-l@uga.bitnet>

We arrive in at the New Orleans airport without incident via a Delta
flight from RDU to Atlanta and another from Atlanta to NO.  In the
van that will deliver us to the hotel, we hear the conversation of
the two women seated behind us, over the drone of the Cajun driver
giving us an introductory tour of The Big Easy in partially
intelligible English:

Woman I:  They warned me, it's a dangerous city.
Woman II: What?  What did they say?
Woman I:  They said, *don't* walk from the Hilton to the French
        Quarter alone.  It's very dangerous.

The tc\sw begins to squirm and I *feel* the fear radiating off her
body, so I know I have to do something.  I whisper in her ear:

I:      This is the story you hear from everybody, about anyplace.
        They say that about Raleigh, forchrissake.
tc\sw:  Are we staying at the Hilton?
I:      No, we are staying *in* the French Quarter, so there's no
        problem.  Don't worry.  We are going to have fun.
tc\sw:  Where's my camera?

It is now 1:45 and we haven't even arrived at the first hotel.  If we
are to be delivered first, I will be there exactly at 2:00, when my
session begins.  If we are delivered last, I will be there at 3:00,
one and one-half hours before I give my paper.

We arrive at 2:30, actually, so I have a few minutes to gather my
thoughts, then burst into the room as one of my co-panelists is
delivering his paper, head down, mumbling in Spanish.  Next panelist
gives her paper, mumbling in Spanish, head down.  Tc\sw arrives at
the room, having snuck past the guards since she has no name tag,
since I did not register her as accompanying spouse in order to save
the $65.  Next panelist gives her paper, mumbling softly in English,
head down.  Tc\sw is getting itchy.  I am getting itchy because there
is only a tiny space left at the head table, not room for me to
spread out and perform.

My moment comes and I squeeze in between two panelists and deliver my
paper in my own personal style, looking them straight in the eye and
doing it almost from memory.  The electricity in the room is amazing.
People are jumping around, nodding or shaking their heads in
agreement or disbelief, the two panelists to my right are mumbling
"si, si, si"  after every sentence, and the woman to my immediate
right is very very obviously reading along with me, never taking her
eyes off my paper.  I consider using a cover sheet like in school
when someone is trying to copy.  But, instead I ignore her, then
end with a flourish and the room breaks into shouts and waving hands,
everyone wanting to get in on the discussion, which centers entirely
on my paper.  I am in heaven, answering every objection by simply
saying:

I:    I know what I am talking about.  I am right and you are wrong.

Most in the room nod in agreement.  It is over, it is 5:30 Thursday
afternoon, and we have until Sunday to just settle down and enjoy
ourselves.

I leave the tc\sw alone for a few moments with some of my friends to
go to the registration desk for my convention badge, alone so they
will not question why I have not registered my accompanying spouse.
I feel like a criminal and explain to the tc\sw what I have done.

tc\sw:  Why did you do that?
I:      Because it would have cost $65.
tc\sw:  For what?  I'm not attending the convention.
I:      Yes you are, you just did.
tc\sw:  I went to hear my husband's paper.  That is *not*, as you
        say, "attending the convention." Don't you know anything?
        This is absurd.
I:      And, there is a big party Friday night, with food and drink.
        That's what the $65 is for.
tc\sw:  Maybe I won't go.  You go have fun with your <friends>.  I'll
        be o.k.  I'll go shopping.  I want a mammy doll.
I:      But I want you to go with me.
tc\sw:  Then I'll go.  Anyway, I'm not attending the convention.  I
        hate conventions. I'm just going to hear my husband's
        paper and going to the party.  That's not attending
        the convention.  What's wrong with you?
I:      Nothing.  I love you when you act like a criminal.
tc\sw:  I don't know what you're talking about.  Where's my camera?

Then, we go to the Acme Oyster Bar for Jambalaya and an Oyster Roll.
Then a tour of Bourbon Street and a swing up Royal, where something
related transpires on the way back to the Monteleone, confirming our
worst fears.
--ggs (back from N.O., the mecca of worst fears....)


Date:         Fri, 10 Mar 1995 22:12:37 EDT
From: gilbertsmith <gsmith@social.chass.ncsu.edu>
Subject:      WHTMINO 2
To: Multiple recipients of list WORDS-L <words-l@uga.cc.uga.edu>

WHAT HAPPENED TO ME IN NEW ORLEANS 2

Walking back toward the Monteleone on Royal Street (once known as the
Calle Real), I am ahead of the tc\sw looking in an antique shop
window when I hear a commotion and hear some mumbling, then two punky
kids in sloppy clothes and lots of hair brush past me grumbling some
kind of half intelligible obsenities.  I engage my mate in a
conversation about what is happening:

tc\sw:  One of them asked me for money and I said No Way, Buddy.
I:      Oh.
tc\sw:  Then he said "We rob people like you."
I:      Oh?
tc\sw:  Then I said "Yeah, well, we kill people like you."
I:      Oh!  Ohmygod!  Let's look in some windows for a while.  I
        don't like the look of them hanging around up there.
tc\sw:  Don't be such a wimp.
I:      Yeah, right.

The punks go on up the street, and there is no <incident>.  The tc\sw
continues:

tc\sw:  What's this casino the bus driver was talking about?
I:      It's a boat on the river.  I went there in November.  It was
        sort of fun.  Lots of slots.
tc\sw:  Want to go?
I:      We could go look.  I don't want to play because it's no fun
        unless you make up you mind to do at last a hundred in
        quarters.  Less than that you just lose it and it's over.
        I'm not in the mood to do a hundred.
tc\sw:  Oh.
I:      Want to go look?
tc\sw:  let's do that tomorrow.

So we get back to the Monteleone and to the room and into bed and
turn on the tube and see the reports of the three murders in the
French Quarter this very evening.  I remember the ladies on the bus.

I:      Jesus!  And you picked a fight with punks on the street.
        We're lucky to be alive.
tc\sw:  It's a good thing they didn't hear me.
I:      What?  They didn't hear you?
tc\sw:  Of course not.  I'm not crazy.
I:      You told me that story like you said it to his face!
tc\sw:  You're crazy.  I'm not crazy.
I:      I love you when you act like a criminal.

We get ready for tomorrow, making plans, amazed that I am through
with my duties and we still have two-and-one-half days.  I drift off
to never never land, sleeping with the enemy, getting ready for
tomorrow, when something related transpires.
--ggs (back from N.O., the mecca of the enemy....)


Date:         Fri, 10 Mar 1995 23:07:22 EDT
From: gilbertsmith <gsmith@social.chass.ncsu.edu>
Subject:      WHTMINO 3
To: Multiple recipients of list WORDS-L <words-l@uga.cc.uga.edu>

After pastries and coffee/tea at La Madeleine on Jackson Square, and
a little bit of blues by a local band in front of the cathedral, and
a quick look at the interior of this sissy French church, we head for
the zoo, walking first along the RiverWalk, past the Casino.

I:      There's the Casino.  Want to go look at it.
tc\sw:  No.  Of course not.
I:      Why not?
tc\sw:  That doesn't interest me.
I:      Then why were you asking me about it last night?
tc\sw:  I was just testing you.
I:      I don't understand you.  After twelve years, I still don't
        understand you.
tc\sw:  I know.  I want a picture of this boat.  Where's my camera?

We make our way to St. Charles and the streetcar, and, after giving a
dollar to a street-person while twelve other street-people looked on
approvingly, we find ourselves in front of my alma mater, *Too*lane
University.  Then a stroll through the park, picture taking of the
mossy trees, then the zoo, which the tc\sw want to go in *only* if
there really are white alligators.  The ticket person assures her
that there are white alligators by first chuckling, then rolling her
eyes, then saying:

TP:     They're in there.

And what a great zoo.  Not as lavish as San Diego, but sort of
quietly nice.  And animals that *perform* for the guests, as if they
knew that they were there for that and that alone.  Par example:

    a) elephants that stand and look you right in the eye and grin;
    b) a peacock with his tail spread, full of brilliant eyes, trying
to seduce a peahen right there in broad daylight; moving erotically
toward the hen, who keeps right on pecking grain and ignores him,
moving back and forward spreading his tail in an agonizing frenzy,
then turning around and ruffling the feathers around his stuff, then
swinging around and spreading out and advancing on the hen, who just
keeps on pecking and pretends he is not there:  Jesus!  The history
of the world, right there before our eyes.
    c) a puff adder who knows I'm there, looking at him, as he
slithers all over the glass cage, looks me right in the eye and
slides around all over the glass, just on the verge of puffing up but
never quite doing it;
    d) white alligators who just lie there, playing dead, except for
the baby in the tank, who wiggles his tiny fingers ever so slightly;
    e) a bison chasing two turkeys all over the yard, two turkeys who
are fighting each other and the bison with his head down, stomping
the ground, charging them, yelling (most certainly) "Quit that
bitching, quit it... you're driving me crazy!"
    f) colorful birds with long beaks and long toothpick thin legs,
plucking slender fish out of the water and shaking them, throwing
them in the air and catching them in the beak until they are aimed
just right to go down in one gulp.

We leave the zoo and travel down Magazine street on the bus, passing
the spot where -ggs once lived in an ante-bellum mansion, the spot
now occupied by the iron fence and the trees as before and a
modern, redwood apartment building which, obscenely, bears on its
meager porches the wrought iron railings from the verandas where I
stood and screamed for trinkets on three successive Mardi Gras.  The
tc\sw bristles slightly as I point out the spot and tell the story.
She is reminded that I had a previous life, and is saddened by the
memory.  Not being entirely crazy, I change the subject.
--ggs (back from N.O., the mecca of sad memories...)


Date:         Fri, 10 Mar 1995 23:51:11 EDT
From: gilbertsmith <gsmith@social.chass.ncsu.edu>
Subject:      WHTMINO 4
To: Multiple recipients of list WORDS-L <words-l@uga.cc.uga.edu>

We get back to the Monteleone and, after a brief nap to sooth our
wounded feet, get ready for the big party, into which we have to
sneak my mate without a name-tag.  I am nervous, she is merely
energized by the challenge.  We take the elevator to the mezzanine,
round the corner by the ballroom, and there sits the wife of the
director, friend of mine, guarding the door.  I take the situation in
hand, my nametag still in my pocket, and greet her brightly,
introduce her to my mate, and then a woman I don't know walks up to
the table:

WIDK:       Excuse me (pointing to her empty lapel), do I have to
have my name tag to get in?
WOD:        What is your name?
WIDK:       sxdciendxst  sepxtsxt
WOD:        Oh, yes, you are registered.  Go right in.

All this in Spanish, so the tc\sw doesn't know for sure what is
transpiring.  I say, taking the situation in hand, "Well, see you
soon?"  She waves brightly and we are inside the door.

I marvel at the coincidence, and am proud of how smoothly I pulled
off that illegal act.  The tc\sw says, wounding my pride:

tc\sw:      Now, wasn't that easy.

Of course, the room is full of people without nametags, as I thought
it would be.  Great party.  Friend comes up and congratulates me on
my paper.

I:      What do you mean?  You got up and walked out before I started.
FRIEND: Oh, yes. (Wagging finger in a Hispanic way)  But I *heard*
        about it.  Good job.
FRIEND's WIFE:  He had to leave because I was chairing a section at
        the same time.
I:      Oh, then he made the right decision.
FW:     (Wagging her finger at me)  No, he made the *only* decision.

I introduce my mate to my friends and she holds her own all night,
eating and talking brightly to everyone.  Later, she says:

tc\sw:  Ugh!  I got stuck with those people!
I:      You seemed to be having fun.
tc\sw:  You don't understand anything, do you?
I:      No.  Let's go get some bread pudding.
tc\sw:  Good idea.

Good bread pudding at the Acme Oyster Bar, then the tc\sw wants to
buy some Acme t-shirts for the babes back home.  Checks them out,
declines the ones that say "Suck me Slurp me" and settles for the
ones that say "Acme Oyster Bar".

We settle down for the night and plan the next day, which, as it
happens, includes an unexpected pleasure for the tc\sw and an
unexpected point for
--ggs (back from N.O., the mecca of unexpected points....)


Date:         Sat, 11 Mar 1995 22:52:02 EDT
From: gilbertsmith <gsmith@social.chass.ncsu.edu>
Subject:      WHTMINO 5
To: Multiple recipients of list WORDS-L <words-l@uga.cc.uga.edu>

WHAT HAPPENED TO ME IN NEW ORLEANS 5

So it is Saturday morning and the skies look like rain, but we
venture out for more sweets from La Madeleine and a little more
music on the square, then a stroll down the streets of the Quarter
looking for mammy dolls and miniature tea sets (she looks, I amble
along just happy to be doing nothing)....  I excuse myself to go out
for a stroll, telling her we'll meet at the hotel.

Just ahead I see the second-hand book store behind the Monteleone and
remember going in that store in search of Tony Hillerman books in
anticipation of getting his autograph at the SCMLA meet in November.
I stroll along, then, in front of the book store, see in the window
*a* *copy* *of* *tc\sw's* *book*, the one from the Art As Activist
Smithsonian exhibit!  Wow!!!!  She's made the used book stores.

I go back to the lobby of the hotel and run into a particularly
intense friend, tell her about my find, and then, seeing the tc\sw
come into the lobby, say: "*Don't* *tell* *her* about the book.  I
want to surprise her."  I do the introductions, we chat a while, then
I drag my mate away and out on to the street, saying "I have
something to show you."  In front of the book store:

I:      Look.
tc\sw:  Wow!  Look at that!  Wow!
I:      I couldn't believe it when I saw it.  You have arrived.
tc\sw:  What do you mean, I've arrived.  That really upsets me.  That
        means somebody didn't want the book and they sold it.  That's
        pretty shitty.
I:      I....   I don't understand you.
tc\sw:  I know.  Oh, well.  Take my picture in front of the book, be
        sure you get the sign in it.

We spend the afternoon making our way to the Garden District, but
stop first at the Contemporary Art Gallery to see a show of The Body
Photographic, an extraordinary show of how images of the human body
have been used for political purposes in photographs.  It is, most of
all, an exhibit of photographs of nude people, with a warning on the
door that easily-offended-persons should not enter.  After spending
two hours looking, we engage in a conversation on the street, waiting
for the St. Charles streetcar:

I:      Did you like it?
tc\sw:  There sure were a lot of penises.
I:      Yeah.  It is ... uh...  shocking, I think.
tc\sw:  I didn't think it was shocking.
I:      I mean, it is so anti-social, so confrontational, so...
tc\sw:  Humphfffff.  I don't find penises shocking, sorry.
I:      What do you mean, sorry? (getting heated)  I mean... most
        people ...  The first thing you said about it was "a lot of
        penises...  And I tried to get you to look at the big wall
        where the black man and white man were in positive and
        negative and the heads and the penises were switched, and you
        didn't want to look at it....  You *averted* your eyes...
tc\sw:  I didn't find it shocking, I just didn't care to look at it.
I:      I...  I don't understand you.
tc\sw:  I know.

We get to the Garden District, where I walk us by the redwood
apartment building with the wrought-iron grillwork, just to make a
point, silently.  She does not comment.  Then we gaze at the
incredible houses, it starts to rain, we get to Commander's Palace
and she insists on asking them if they will give us lunch, even
though it is 3:00 and the sign says lunch stops at 2:00.  The guy
says no.

tc\sw:  (outside again)  That's ridiculous.  They should have like
        dessert or something for late-comers.
I:      I don't think it's that kind of restaurant.  It's very classy.
tc\sw:  Well, they should.
I:      Did you ask him if we could have the left overs?
tc\sw:  That's not funny.  Let's go home.

We get on the streetcar, and the driver has trouble making it go.
She gets upset and starts cursing to her co-conductor, audibly.  We
creep down St. Charles until we come to a special place where she
gets out, fills a bucket with sand and brings it onto the street car,
pulls up a seat and pours it into the wheel well.  That's all it
needed.  A little friction.  We speed on to Canal Street.

So back in the Quarter, and, hungry, we go to a great place and
order mufaletta (or whatever), *huge* sandwiches, each with at least
a pound of sliced cold cuts.  I insist on eating the entire thing,
she eats 3/4 of hers and we are, for quite a while, sick.  We wait a
while, then soothe our stomachs by having bread pudding at Mother's.
Oh me.  Early to bed, only one-half day left.  Beginning to feel like
we've done it and it's time to go home home home.
--ggs


Date:         Sat, 11 Mar 1995 23:14:46 EDT
From: gilbertsmith <gsmith@social.chass.ncsu.edu>
Subject:      WHTMINO 6
To: Multiple recipients of list WORDS-L <words-l@uga.cc.uga.edu>

WHAT HAPPENED TO ME IN NEW ORLEANS 6

Sunday morning and the van is coming at 1:20.  Not much time, and the
rain is falling heavily at times, lightly at other times.  We go out
with one umbrella, getting very wet.  I am optimistic:

I:      It's only water.

We wander, she finds (with my help) the tea set she's been dreaming
of, and I look at the weird horse sculpture that I've been admiring
for three days.  We go in and talk to the gallery owner about the
artist, and I hold it and bounce it and want it, but the $1100 price
tag puts me off.  Later, maybe.

She wants me to take her to breakfast, to just take her there without
asking where she wants to go, so I take her to the place we couldnt
get into yesterday because, while I was hesitating, another couple
came and took the only seat.  She thinks this is sweet:  I'm making
it up to her.

We go back to the hotel, pack, and go down and wait for the van.  It
comes, full of people, so we are stuck on the back seat behind a
particularly irritating couple.  She is about 25, bushy black hair
and quite lovely, he is probably 45 and very very academic looking,
high forehead, gold rim glasses, tight kinky hair, buggy eyes.  All
the way to the airport, she has her arm around him and is turned
toward him whispering in his ear and running her fingers through his
hair.  I am thinking:  This would absolutely *drive* *me* *crazy*,
like the bison in the park (Stop it!  Stop that!  You're driving me
crazy!).  I feel my mate getting more and more irritated by this
PDOA.  The van begins to empty airline by airline at the airport, and
the guy sitting next to them moves to another seat where he cant see
them.  I mouthe the words to her: "*Why* is *she* with *him*?"  They
finally get out and we trash them immediately.

tc\sw:  I was trying to think of something to say to them.
I:      Like what could you say?
tc\sw:  I don't know, something like Don't You People Have A Room To
        Go To?
I:      Or maybe: "We kill people like you."
tc\sw:  That's not funny.  Take my picture.  I want to use up this
        roll.

So we sit for an hour waiting for the flight to Atlanta, long enough
to get into a fight over a former girlfriend who was at the
convention.  She gets up and goes to the gate, but I have the tickets
so I, ever so casually, make her wait a bit before I come over.  We
make up on the plane, holding hands and ordering Bloody Mary Mix
together.

In Atlanta, they change the gate for the flight three times before we
finally leave, time to have a fight over whether I am interested
in listening to her talk about her upcoming Israeli-Palestinian
graphic art show.  We almost make up on the plane, but not quite.  It
is obvious that the honeymoon is over and we are going home, where
the real world is.

Days later, back in the home routine, we get the photos.  Terrific
shot of my mate standing in front of the book store proudly pointing
to her book.  She says:

tc\sw:  I'm *so* glad the sign says Crescent City Books and not
        Crescent City Used Books.
I:      I know you are.
tc\sw:  What do you mean by that?
I:      I mean, I understand.
tc\sw:  Well, *finally*.
I:      Look at me in front of those elephants.
tc\sw:  Look how handsome you are.
I:      Well, *finally*.

So I think, it really was a second honeymoon. It really was. I never.
--ggs