All right. I admit it. I was underage, just seventeen, when I fell for her.
I only had a learner’s permit, so I had to be driven to my weekend encounters with her. Those long drives in someone else’s car seemed interminable — back in the days before I-10, when we were glad that a new paved stretch of dilapidated Highway 90 made things a little less bumpy.
I remember those first nights in the cane fields — soft, warm breezes sweeping over me as I lay on a simple mattress on the floor, surrounded, encompassed by my new love.
She was much older than I, and that was a major part of the attraction. She sometimes, how can I say it, creaked and groaned, but I didn’t care, because she glowed though fading colors, flaws papered over in a refined way.
She imbibed, in certain seasons, heavily of just about anything around her, and drops of water sometimes rolled down her facade. She’d neglected her health for years and needed a major facelift.
By 1983, things had gotten tough for her. The Gipper was leading the country, but there was no morning in her America. The final episode of M.A.S.H. had aired, and the last Deloreans rolled off the custom assembly line at the end of the year. But Vanessa Williams walked away with the Miss America crown, and crack cocaine was developed in the Bahamas.
She needed money, so she started inviting men — and women — to spend the night with her. She offered them cocktails, a romantic candlelight dinner, a glass of brandy before slipping into a canopied bed, and breakfast before they faded away to parts near and far.
The French were her favorites, with their “O la-la” and “Très mignon.” They turned off the air conditioning in August and opened the windows, saving her money as they tossed and turned, trying to find a dry spot in the bed, somewhere not drenched in sweat.
Over time, it progressed from one-night visits to longer stays, and her fame spread. A man called from Cote D’Ivoire one day, and that made her feel like a celebrity.
Soon, Hollywood was calling. Director Bill Condon chose her for his first triumph, and Eric Stoltz romanced her in ‘Sister, Sister,’ as Judith Ivey and Jennifer Jason Leigh observed, shocked at Stoltz’s character’s deception and shenanigans.
She had quite a history, and paranormal researchers begged to scan her, but she refused. She witnessed scores of weddings but never was a bride herself.
She rebounded from Katrina, only to be battered by Gustav. The world’s most famous pet psychic was employed to find a cat that disappeared while she flapped about during the 2008 storm.
She’s felt neglected this summer. The sultry bayou summer has kept some clients away. But she’s a survivor, as striking as ever, like NOLA, whom fellow Nolavie columnists Joey Albanese and Brett Will Taylor celebrate.
Long live the Queen of the Bayou, A.K.A. Madewood, my muse.