Wednesday, April 6, 2011

New Orleanians go out of their way

It was a splendid day Friday and I decided to walk to a mailbox. There are not many mailboxes Uptown anymore, so that ordinary task involves walking all the way to St. Charles Avenue - a lovely, long, sunny walk.

On the way back, I began to feel the urge for an ice cream. It was a spring day that deserved a ritual response. I could not think of any ice cream shops on the way home and only snowball places a bit out of the way. I stopped at Pinkberry Frozen Yogurt store, which claims to be a more healthful alternative to crushed ice covered with dyed sugar syrup, but two dozen high school girls in plaid skirts had beat me there and were slowing the line while debating the myriad choices of fresh fruit and nut toppings.

I continued along Magazine Street and stuck my head into Guy's Po-boy shop, just on the chance ice cream might be on the menu. One glance told me the choices were po-boys, french fries and soft drinks. The two staff people were sweeping the floor and apologized that Guy's was already closed. "No problem, I said. I am just desperate for ice cream." They both nodded, apologetically.

I stepped back outside and stood aimlessly on the sidewalk, still straining to think of a place. One of the staffers popped open the door and pointed back toward Pinkberry's. I'd already been there and it was mobbed, I explained. He was sorry again.

Sorry, he had no ice cream for me, sorry Pinkberry's was crowded and sorry, he could not offer a workable suggestion.

In Chicago, had I asked the same question, the answer would have been, "We're closed!!" That would have been the end of it.

People here try to help. They offer suggestions. They might even tell you a story. Or make a phone call for you. Or let you use their house right off the parade route when they're out of town at Mardi Gras. Now, that's Southern hospitality.

The following day, I was in the car and stopped for Mexican Hot Chocolate at Creole Creamery made with cayenne pepper -  yum. It was worth the wait.

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