Up close and personal in the Big Easy

By David WilliamsBy David Williams

 My youngest daughter is a singer/songwriter. At least that is one of her talents. God has blessed her to excel in that area and she has had the opportunity to enter and win several contests.
    So it came as no surprise to me when she informed us that she would like to audition for American Idol. Now as those of you who read my articles know how my father’s training methods and mom’s firm hand allowed me to fulfill my dreams of being a football player. Not that they gave me a choice. But I digress. As a result of mom and dad, I feel that it is my duty to help my children find themselves. In my daughter’s case, “finding herself” meant loading up the family and going to New Orleans.
    It isn’t uncommon for my former pastor and his wife to travel with us. They’re great company and have the ability to love, inspire, rebuke and laugh. So I invited them along.
    Through the years, I have become the unofficial trip planner. I immediately started my research. The first thing I did was Google “New Orleans events.” In addition to auditioning for American Idol, I wanted the rest of the family to have a good time. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that New Orleans was going to celebrate Decadence Week!  Pictured on the city’s website were grown men dressed in diapers and dresses. Needless to say, my pastor declined to make that trip. That decision should have been my first sign of woe. But I pressed on for my daughter’s sake. She wanted to chase her dream, and I wanted to help her any way I could.
    I made Amtrak and hotel reservations. If you have never ridden Amtrak, I highly recommend doing so. I upgraded to sleeper cars, which included our meals. I observed my family as we made our trip and felt pretty good about myself. To borrow a phrase from my father, I was “making it happen.”
    Once we arrived in New Orleans, I asked the train station officer whether or not it would be okay to walk to our hotel, since it was very close.
    “If I were you I would take a taxi,” he advised.
    Woe No. 2: if a police officer tells you something, one should probably listen, and I did). The cab ride and hotel check-in were uneventful. Little did I know it would be the last of any normal occurrences on the trip.
    We rested in our rooms and waited for the auditions to start. My wife and son slept in as my daughter and I made our way from our hotel to the Superdome before dawn. The lady at the front desk suggested that we walk in the middle of the street to avoid getting mugged by some bad guys hiding in the shadows.
(Woe No. 3: Talk about country mouse going to the city – that’s exactly what I felt like).
    I walked all the way to the Superdome with my daughter close by, my eyes moving from side to side like I was running a football in college.
    We stood in line for what seemed like forever. We became extras for the show as the cameras shot footage of the crowd. We were told when to cheer and when to be quiet during interviews. I have never even watched the show, so I should have received an Oscar for my acting, because I could have cared less. I was only there because God blessed me with daughters who can sing, one of which expressed her desire to be there. We waited as the lines slowly moved. Morning came and the night gave way to the light. Brooke finally secured her ticket and bracelet and we returned to the hotel.
    When we weren’t waiting on the American Idol staff to do what they do, we toured the city. We rode the trolley up and down Canal Street. I wanted my little country family from Gadsden, Alabama, to see some of the historic landmarks such as Jackson Square and St. Louis Cathedral, so off we went.
    It was daylight, so we walked on the sidewalk. We noticed a strange odor and were informed that it was a mixture of sewage and vomit.
    Our next shock was a group of men dressed as women, and some of them weren’t even shaved. They were walking and talking like they didn’t have a care in the world.
If you are a man and you wear a dress shouldn’t you at least shave? Aren’t there rules written somewhere about this? Perhaps my pastor should have come. Maybe revival is needed here.
    I pressed forward, determined to show my family a good time. We noticed either a building or pub to our left. Nothing out of the ordinary there, except that when you looked through the window, there were naked women. I literally grabbed my son’s head and turned it to the right. So quick was my turn that I barely avoid breaking his neck. My wife and daughter gasped.
    While I looked at them my son shouted, “Look, daddy!”
    In my haste to protect his little eyes, I turned his head toward Larry Flynt’s nude bar without knowing it.
    “Just great. You brought your family to a brothel.”
They were the words of my wife. She was right, of course. I no longer felt like Super Dad. Suffice to say, we never made it to Jackson Square.
    It turned out that we were too square for New Orleans. We weren’t in Gadsden (Kansas) anymore. We were caught in crossfire of nude bars. New Orleans must have been late turning in their application when Las Vegas was proclaimed Sin City.
    If the situation had not been so funny, it would have been tragic – a shell-shocked family eager to return to their tiny private rooms on the train. I remember thinking that America looks better from my room with a view.
    I don’t know about you but the next time I travel and the events calendar for that city or state has a Men Wearing Baby Diapers Day, I’m staying home.
    It sort of gave an ironic twist on American Idol thing, if you ask me. Perhaps they were worshipping Baby Huey in New Orleans during Decadence week

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