Summer Vacation Teachable Moments
We took the children on a whirlwind tour of New Orleans, Louisiana last week. It was mostly great. I had forgotten what it sounds like to listen to your arteries harden after eating fried food. Non-stop. Every meal. Seriously, dining in the French Quarter was like eating at the State Fair every three hours. Fried chocolate corn sausage hot dog filled with gravy covered with powdered sugar. I kept thinking about Morgan Spurlock at the end of Super Size Me and Fred clutching his heart from Sanford & Son. I love the cajun and creole cuisine, but it seemed like a big conspiracy to hide any fruits or vegetables from me.
This trip provided ample teachable moments for the kids. First, children, this is what your body feels like on pure sugar crack, salt heroin and hits of fat amphetamines. Vegetables? Totally over-rated. How delicious is fried okra? Really delicious, but definitely as a treat, not a menu staple. What? You’re tired? That’s called a “sugar crash” and happens after you wolf down four beignets two hours after eating fried shrimp, french fries, hushpuppies and onion rings for lunch.
Second, unlike the trip to the fracking Dakotas which served as a tangible reminder of where you don’t want to end up living or working, NOLA provided examples of various states of consciousness and sobriety. Upon our return from the trip a friend asked 10 YO Blair what she saw in New Orleans. Her response? “A lot of drunk people!” How is that not a valuable lesson for children?
They’ve seen drunk people in captivity, but not so much in the wild cityscape.
We even went during the week when The Crazy Element was at a murmur. Still, I was struck with how many whacked-out people appeared to have wandered away from their sanitariums. Not exactly “boisterous people wearing stretched-out muscle T’s and talking too loudly” but dirty people talking to their invisible friends and batting gnats that didn’t exist. Still, I love this city and it’s rich history.
Third, NOLA provided a valuable lesson about the difference between irony and coincidence. Listen up, kids: coincidence is when something uncanny, accidental and unexpected happens. Irony is both coincidental and contradictory in a humorous or poignant and extremely improbable way.
Seeing an older gentleman wearing a leather harness where a shirt would normally go sauntering down Bourbon Street in front of a unisex tittie bar and then seeing the same guy an hour later on Royal Street is a coincidence. We didn’t think we would ever see him again, but there’s nothing humorous or contradictory about seeing him, even if he was carrying a whip.
Then enter the middle-aged lady, barefoot, Pall Mall hanging from her lips and almost spilling the contents of her plastic tumbler every time she took a step walking down the sidewalk. A spontaneous street band of teenage musicians erupted amassing a crowd of onlooking tourists. The lady obviously felt the pull of the music and HAD to dance. She ran over to the musicians and began dancing, twerking and gyrating to the beat, taking a rest from her enthusiasms on the filthy street, then bubbling up to dance some more. Then shit got real. A New Orleans police squad car pulled up to the scene and double parked. I felt nervous for the filthy lady, who didn’t seem to appreciate the situation. The officers pulled out their ticket pads and began writing. Once finished, the fuzz walked over to where the musicians and the publicly intoxicated woman was shaking her fanny in the air while in a downward dog position and shoved tickets underneath the windshield wipers of several parked cars. Back at their car, one of the officers stuck a wad of gum in her mouth and threw the wrapper into the gutter. “That, children, is ironic.”