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Friday, January 26, 2007


It's New Orleans

Last year when my daughter first returned to New Orleans after spending a semester away from Tulane due to Katrina, there was still a lot of damage to housing and streets. Although her apartment has been spared any serious damage, the surrounding streets were full of potholes and on-going construction. As we were returning to her neighborhood one afternoon, she found an access street to her apartment blocked. Without hesitation, she knowingly took a detour the wrong way down a one-way street. As I shrieked in protest, she retorted, "Relax, Mother. It's New Orleans".

The rejoinder, "It's New Orleans", has become our family explanation for the unexplainable. So it was sort of my first thought when I came upon the cockroach earrings.

Yes, your eyes are not deceiving you: cockroach earrings. Not real insects, thank goodness, but plastic ones that have been nicely gilded and glittered.

It was not love at first sight. Even though they were at one of my favorite French Quarter stores, The Living Room on Royal Street. I had found my treasured Maria Evora soap there, a cameo embossed coal black soap. I needed a replacement since my cat Leo had knocked the last $9 bar into the toilet which caused quite the plumbing disaster.

But back to the earrings. The latest proprietors told us that in addition to the historical connections that New Orleans has to these famed residents, many of the Katrina survivors see themselves as strangely kin to the insects. "No matter what, we survive."

The earrings had been featured, we were told, the day before in the Times-Picayune. Newspaper article or no newspaper article, even I didn't think I could carry them off. So I thanked them for stocking the soap I had been all over town to find, and moved on to other shops.

However, I just couldn't get the earrings out of my head. Since I was already carting home half a van full of groceries (Zapps chips in the little bags that I can't get locally, CC's coffee, large jars of Zat's mustard, lump crabmeat, andouille sausage, king cake) what was another little trinket?

So Sunday when they opened, I was there to get my cockroach earrings. Proud to crawl home, as they say. It's New Orleans.

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