Bourbon Street No. 1
(This is where I introduce you to Bourbon Street.)
Friend: Let’s go down Bourbon Street.
We turn off Royal and walk the short block to Bourbon Street. It’s a Sunday night, the end of a weekend. Lots of people on Royal Street. Lots of people all over the place! The night is high on energy.
We turn onto Bourbon Street and I immediately cringe.
Me: There’s something wrong here! My voice rises in pitch…or panic…but not really because I don’t panic anymore, but I may start again just for tonight.
Friend: This is normal.
Me: No! I yell. It’s wrong. It’s…it’s…
What can I say?
Me: It’s LOUD, I shout. And…and…
Friend: It’s supposed to be loud. That’s how they desensitize you.
He’s acting normal. I’m shrinking into myself.
Me: And look at the signs all lit up.
But that’s stupid because the signs on Royal are also lit. WHAT’S WRONG WITH THIS??? Oh, right, they’re NEON signs, created to assault your eyes in the night. I close my eyes.
Friend: The psychology is to desensitize you so that you spend more money.
Me: Looking up, looking down, looking at my friend, looking away, looking anywhere but down Bourbon Street. But what about people like me who shut down when overstimulated?
Friend: *sigh* (I heard that.) Yes, you do shut down a lot. (I do not.) But that’s not a bad thing. That’s just you.
I looked at him and then noticed we were on a side street. We weren’t shouting anymore. Bourbon Street was gone. We turn onto quiet Dauphine Street.
Me: Yeah. I know. I used to believe that I had to like this kind of excitement, and so I pretended to, but I didn’t. I used to believe I was broken because I didn’t like it. I don’t believe that anymore. It’s just who I am, and that’s ok.
Bourbon Street No. 2
(This is where I tell you how to walk through Bourbon Street.)
It’s threatening rain.
Friend: Let’s go down Bourbon Street.
Me: I glare at him.
Friend: If it rains, we’ll have some place to duck into.
Me: I nod my head.
We had been walking a lot. I had been racing to keep up with him all night so I was tired. I was sore. But it made sense to go down Bourbon Street where all the doors are open and everyone’s welcome no matter what the weather. Laughter comes from all sides and people duck in and out of girls, girls, girls, exotic girls, sexy girls, beer, cocktails, pizza, cabaret. I had already experienced a deluge earlier in the day and knew what the New Orleans’ sky was capable of delivering on a moment’s notice. So we turn down Bourbon Street.
And it screams at me. But this time I will not let it get to me. So I hold my head up, look straight ahead, and pretty much race through the long street, dodging men, stepping around women, and ignoring all signs of street life. I make it to Canal Street, the border between the French Quarter and the rest of the world, surprised that I’m not sore anymore and turn to my friend.
Me: Well, that wasn’t so bad—
My friend isn’t there. I look behind me and see him stepping his way through the crowd toward me. He’s glaring at me.
Friend: You really don’t like Bourbon Street, do you. I’ve never seen you walk so fast.
Bourbon Street No. 3
(This is where I show you pictures of Bourbon Street.)
Bourbon Street is like one big, overcrowded, outdoor bar. I don’t like overcrowded bars. I prefer to go to bars in the middle of the afternoon when no one else is there. So it makes sense that when I was out roaming the French Quarter in the middle of the afternoon in a downpour of rain that I would think, Hey, maybe NOW I can do Bourbon Street.
So, all by myself I turn down Bourbon Street. I STROLL down Bourbon Street. I take my time. I’m still bewildered by it. Even in the middle of the afternoon in the rain with hardly anyone there, I just don’t get it.
Anyway, here’s where I show you a picture of Bourbon Street.
But I also feel really badly that I didn’t get a photo to show you of it teeming with people. So I added people to my photo. See how busy it is? And how much fun they are having? And they are walking the streets with booze in hand!!! I wish we could do that in Indianapolis.
Bourbon Street No. 4
(This is where I tell you some facts about Bourbon Street and show you one more photo.)
Believe it or not, Bourbon Street is not named after bourbon whiskey like I thought. It is named after the royal french Bourbon family, just like bourbon whiskey is named after the same family. So, even though Bourbon Street is not directly connected to bourbon whiskey, they are cousins. And it’s much more fun to participate in debauchery on a street associated with whiskey than on a street associated with royalty…unless you are royally debauched. But I wouldn’t know. I only go to bars in the middle of the afternoon.
Down away from all the neon signs is Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar. I made a special trip to see it just because I had heard about it. It was the middle of the day, of course, since I don’t go to bars at night. Lafitte’s claim to fame is that it is reputed to be the oldest structure used as a bar in the U.S. I’m sure the alcohol is delicious, too. And the food. I didn’t eat there. I had already eaten or I would have eaten there. And had a drink. To go.
So there you go. Bourbon Street. It’s a great place if you like outdoor, overcrowded, exotic, exciting, fun bars. I do. But only in the afternoons.