Once Upon A Time In A Land 1500 Miles Away

Spring 2000 I traveled down to the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival to take in some great live music, eat fine food and see if I could run into an exboyfriend who attended the festival (attended by 100,000 people or so) each year. Not necessarily an ex, I mean he was never boyfriend, but we had a connection!--in our six months of dating 4 of which were long distance and conducted mostly through e-mail. You might read the previous statement and judge me. Perhaps you think I'm crazy. But nothing could be further from the truth. It wasn't like I was going to Chicago on a vacation to run into the dude. First off, Chicago is a big city with millions of people so my odds of running into him would be a long shot. Further, Chicago happens 365 days a year so who knows when he'd be there if ever. And, I mean Jazzfest is really cool, I'd go there anyway and if I could run into a boy I liked as well, then so much the better for me. I mean, all those jobs I was applying to post college were looking for a multi-tasker and now I could say I was one. I had genunine experience.

But that is all besides the point. This story isn't about me. It's about my Aunt Sue's friend Kathleen. A red-headed lady in her late forties who was orginally from New Jersey but would never cop to her garden state heritage. My Aunt heard that I was planning to travel the New Orleans Jazzfest by myself. I was hoping to rope some friends journeying down there with me, but most of my friends aren't jazz fans and none of them were Bill fans (he was the boy). Not that they didn't like him, they just didn't know him. It's like when I say I'm not a Margaret Cho fan, I have nothing against her, I'm just not familiar with her comedy, and my friends weren't really familar with Bill. It's a shame too because having friends on a stalking mission keeps you from looking like you're stalking and a little off kilter. Anyway, my aunt told me to contact her friend Kathleen, who had relocated to New Orleans a number of years ago, when I got down there. Which I did.

Kathleen invited me to a house party attended buy middle-aged, borderline alcoholics. They were sweet and seemed very concerned that I wore a wrist watch. "You're so New York with that wrist watch. Hey, Joey, get a load of this she's got a wrist watch. This is New Orleans you don't have to be anywhere at anytime." I tried defending myself by explaining the festival with it's many stages of music had a schedule and I hate to miss an act I was interested in. They laughed and then started telling me about the 70s when qualudes were fun.

Later in the weekend Kathleen was to perform with her gospel group at the gospel tent at 11am in the morning and she really wanted me to go. I really wanted to go to, how often does one get to see an all white gosspel choir in New Orleans? Unfortunately, I over slept and didn't make it to the fairgrounds in time to catch Kathleen and her choir. Apparently, one might not need a wrist watch in New Orleans, but an alarm clock sometimes comes in handy. Kathleen and I met up later on the festival grounds that day where I pretended I had actually heard her choir sing earlier. I was 22 and didn't want people hating me, so I lied. When she asked me what my favorite part was I responded, "When you guys brought up the little girl to sing 'This Little Light of Mine' with you guys backing her.' As a heathen from the North there is only one thing I know about gospel music: every choir sings "This Little Light of Mine" led by an adorable young girl. It just is.

As we're walking the fair grounds talking about her performance we bump into her boyfriend, an overweight, slightly dirty, drunkard. As they are talking I can tell there is some tension between them. He walks away without saying good-bye. Kathleen turns to me and says, "He wants to break-up with me, but I won't let him." What? How does that work? But before I can find out about her secret powers, her jedi-mind trick she's off scampering after her non-ex boyfriend. That was the last I saw of Kathleen. I never got an explanation. I didn't even know such a thing was possible. "I'm breaking up with you." "No, you're not. You're not allowed. I forbid it."

I might have attended Jazzfest on a mission to run into a boy, but I wasn't crazy.


alexandra said…
I was reading your post and I was under the impression that I was reading a best seller novel.Have you ever thought about writing one?