Sunday, March 30 2008 @ 10:50 PM EDT
Contributed by: anne
When you have a second home in New Orleans, it’s expected that when guests arrive you will show them a good time. Our guests this weekend didn’t need much help… My sister, Judye, and her daughter, Jennifer, came down to visit us this weekend at our Cotton Mills location, in a quiet peaceful neighborhood, just blocks from the French Quarter.Because of our close proximity to Bourbon Street, Jude wanted to be ready to have some fun when she got here, so she started drinking at 5:00pm – Brazil time, I think. In other words, she arrived at 5:00 pm New Orleans time feeling pretty good already, so we headed straight out for a fun Friday night, no plan whatsoever in the works. I was wondering whether, in our late thirties and early forties, she and I would have as much fun as we did back in high school and college. We had so many things to show our daughters!
Right away, Jude made a scene. Just like old times.
We were walking toward the French Quarter when Deb and I noticed that BONO WAS MISSING! The Hard Rock Cafe has a huge (and life-like) Bono poster in the window that is one of our favorite landmarks, so of course, we inquire inside. Can we have it? If they’re not going to use the poster any more, we can think of millions of uses for it. We’re informed that we can’t have it. It’s being “recycled.” Bono? Recycled? What the…?
Jude is on the case, though. She walks in and demands to see the manager. She will rescue Bono from recycling because it’s our duty as fans of Irish drinking songs and Dublin pubs and the fact that we are two of the old folks who remember him before he got fat… like Elvis…
Can she do it? Here is the manager, talking it over with her…
This manager is an absolute Nazi. He continues to insist that Bono will be “recycled,” and we finally give up, deciding that what is needed here is more alcohol for our spokesperson. We’ll come back to this later.
We proceed to the French Quarter, and we’re just soaking up all the music and the smells (not all of them good), and I’m desperately trying to find coffee. We arrive on Bourbon Street, and I know it’s a lost cause. There will be no coffee for me – but we find a grocery store, and Judye goes in for more hooch.
… And comes out with a most interesting purchase. A MELON.
“What are we supposed to do with that?” I ask. “How are we gonna cut it?” ask the girls. She has no answers. She is dancing and singing an “I’ve got a melon” song, and we figure it’s just easier to join her than argue. We got a melon, and we’re just a few lyrics away from being locked up if you ask me.
What it needs is a mask. This will disguise the produce from being too conspicuous, plus, will make it more legitimate as a party icon, as it is destined to become.
We find the perfect mask, poke a hole for his smoke, and the Party Melon is born. If you can’t eat ’em, party with ’em, right?
We keep calling it “The Melon,” and this just isn’t right. If we’re gonna hang out with him, he’s got to have a name. We should be on a first-name basis, right? We ask a friendly biker what we should call him…
The biker, who was at first a little intimidating, now just looks… confused. “Y’all are hanging out with a melon?”
“Yeah.” We think it’s kind of obvious. “So what should we call him?”
He scratches his beard. “Um… he looks kinda moody. So… Manchester? Yeah. Manchester the Moody Melon. That’s his name.”
“Thanks a lot!” we shout. He never cracks a smile, but waves at us as we leave and shakes his head. Don’t let him fool you – he’s digging the melon.
Now that he has a name, Manchester takes on a life of his own. He’s a magnet for everyone on the street, and before we know it, everyone on Bourbon Street is demanding to party with the melon.
Manchester the Moody Melon has hours of fun. He meets so many characters it is hard to record them all, but here are a few:
There is Kim, who wants to meet our daughters. We tell him he cannot talk to our daughters, but he can carry the melon. We want to see if he is a responsible young man. I show him how to hold Manchester properly, and he follows us for a few blocks, still trying to get to the daughters.
Over the course of the night, Manchester met the following people, not necessarily in this order… a bartender, getting off early for the night.
A Lucky Dog vendor…
A fun guy and his friend, who offered Manchester a ride in his wheelchair…
A waitress in a COFFEE SHOP – YES, there are two places to get Coffee on Bourbon Street.
Two girls who wanted to get pictures of Manchester for their MySpace…
Some random tourists, who asked us if this (partying with a melon) is a New Orleans thing. We told them yeah, it is.
Some locals trying out a Fight Club thing on the street…
And Manchester crashed a family dinner, inviting himself to cocktails with some folks from Iowa. They were a little resentful, but he charmed them and stole some flatware.
And eventually, Manchester has an inevitable run-in with the NOPD.
He’s already calling home to arrange bail, when, luckily, Fight Club goes into action around the corner, and this one leaves to provide reinforcement. Whew.
Last, but not least, Manchester bumps into John, a young drag queen who claims to be from Connecticut. John has a very sad story about his plight. He is stuck in New Orleans with (surprise!) no money for bus fare home.
We tell John we’ve heard this before. His fresh complexion and sparkling eyes cut through the story of heroin-addicted nightmares on the street. We suspect he’s a student at St. Stanislas, cut off from his trust fund for the weekend. He hangs his head with a guilty smile.
But all is not lost. We figure we’ll help him with the fundraising, so we give him Manchester and we stick around for a while, asking folks to contribute to his fund, while repeating his story, even though we know it’s not true. We make him about twenty bucks in ten minutes. We’d be pretty good at this scam artist thing, don’t you think?
We’ve adopted a drag queen, and it’s time to call it a night. We leave Manchester to help with the fundraiser, and the girls say farewell to their new friend. He seems much happier now, and who wouldn’t be, what with Manchester staying to help?
One farewell dance, for the sake of raising money, and we drag the girls home. It’s 2:00 am, and it’s their bed time. Enough with the trust fund drag queen and the party melon already!