So after last night of The Drink and The Walk, that I didn’t sleep, I pressed on with the conference.  Went to lunch.  Sat at the bar.  It’s 80 degrees outside, and the mystery and revelry of the night is replaced by energy and bustling of the day.  Got taken cared of by a friendly 20-something bartender.  A stylish woman sat down, 3 seats away.  Looking very serious and even a little angry.  Ordered a drink.  She was very “shiny,” earrings, hair, ring, all glistening.  A handsome black woman in a geometric print knit dress.           

We chatted a little with the bartender.  I told them that I was from DC, and I was loving New Orleans so much.  STOP GOING TO THE FRENCH QUARTER.  You need to go to Frenchmen Street where the locals hangout to hear music, the woman said.

Then she told me she was in DC for Mardi Gras.  How they loved DC — sipping drinks, conversing, listening to music in a Mardi Gras ball, with some political heavyweights that went late into the night till 3AM…sounds fun.      

At some point, her companion got here.  He has a scar on his face, and sports a preppy pair of glasses.  He sits down, and orders a drink, and we’re just all shooting the breeze, aided by the friendly bartender.  It turns out he and I went to the same school, and we lived a few blocks away while we were in school.  We talked about Japan’s earthquake, and how important it is to cherish the very moment that we’re in.  The woman said something very wise, “That’s true for people of all ages.”    

I’m not sure how much time has passed, but suddenly, I got handed a handwritten note written on a stiff stationary envelop from the woman, with her contact information, and her DC friend’s contact information.  You need to get to know my friend, the writing says.  All I was feeling was some kind of drunken happiness from the lack of sleep and from my nonstop daydreaming about what happened during The Walk.    

Before I knew what’s happening, we were all exchanging contact information.  I held up the card as a demonstration to everyone to make my point: SEE?  THIS IS WHY I LOOOOOOVE New Orleans.  SEE???  I’m not making this up!  People are so friendly.  I pointed to the bartender, really, I didn’t stage this.  I don’t know who these people are!  They all laughed.  The couple got up, and went to their reserved table.  I finished my meal at the bar by myself.

“Would you like some dessert?”  The bartender said.  No.  I’m fine.  Check please, I said…I was ready to pay anything for such an enjoyable meal.

“You’re all set.”  She said.

What do you mean?  “You’re all set.  You’ve been taken cared of,” the bartender said.  I was shocked.  By whom?  What?  Huh?  “Your friends, they took care of you.” The bartender said.

Really????   

I’ve heard of people paying coffee for the next person in life, but I had never been the recipient of a gorgeous meal at one of the most elegant restaurants in the city like this. 

I asked the bartender what I should do, because frankly, I was just flustered.  Suddenly I woke up from my stupor all day.  “What should I do?  I mean, what would YOU do if you were me?”

She said, you could go over there to thank them, and maybe send drinks over.  I said, “OK.  I trust you.  Send them something nice.  Please, take care of them for me.  I’m in your hands now!!!”  I was just completely surprised, flustered, confused, amused, overjoyed…   

I walked over to the handsome couple, somewhat sheepishly, because I had made a blunder in something that I said.  I said, Thank you!  You made my trip.  You really did.  They looked up, and the man said, without any fanfare, “You’re welcome.”

“Welcome to our city.  Enjoy our city.”