Thursday, August 10, 2017

Meanwhile, back in Abbeville...

I promised you tales of my adventures in Abbeville, Louisiana, the little village in Cajun Country I now call home, so here is the story of one of my first encounters of the Abbeville kind.

South Louisiana is Catholic...very Catholic.  I am, technically, a Texas Protestant, who never really knew many Catholics until I moved to New Orleans in my late 20's.  Intellectually, I understand the Catholic ideology, but I must admit, it still seems a little spooky.  But, as I am naturally curious about other cultures and people, I try to never miss an opportunity to learn something, or even participate. This was one of those opportunities.

When I first moved here, a little over a year ago, I was living with my friend Shana, who had suffered a stroke and needed full time care.  We rented a large apartment in an old house, in the heart of Abbeville, located just across the street from the small garage studio apartment I now occupy.  The apartment was very nice except for the bathroom, which needed to be retrofitted to accommodate Shana's disability, a fresh coat of paint, and new vinyl flooring.  It was a small bathroom, so I really only needed a 5' x 5' remnant to do the job.  Our friend and neighbor, Juliette, suggested I go to the locally owned flooring store close to our house before making the trek to Loewes.  I always try to patronize local merchants whenever possible, so this seemed like a good idea.

At the first opportunity, I headed to the flooring store, which was only a few blocks away.  It was around 9:00 am on a weekday and there were no other cars parked in front, so I was pretty sure I was the only customer at the moment.  Upon entering the store I immediately encountered four people, whom I surmised were employees, and a priest.  I froze in my tracks.  They froze and stared at me. I'm sure this stare down only lasted a couple of seconds, but it seemed much longer.  My mind raced to figure out what was happening.  Had I walked into an exorcism or was the priest just buying new flooring for the rectory?  A woman among the employees broke the ice with a, "can we help you?"  I apologized for interrupting...whatever this was.  She then explained that the business had been having a hard time for several years, some bad "juju" (yup, she said "juju"), and the priest was there to bless the building and the business.  I was still somewhat frozen, not sure what to do.  I offered to come back later or sit in my car until they were done.  That's when the priest spoke up and said, "This won't take but a minute if you would like to stay."  Heck yeah, I was staying!  I had never seen a business blessed before.  I was not only curious, but a little hopeful some of that holy water might get splashed on me too!  The priest was right, it only took a couple of minutes, then he headed to the warehouse in back to bless the linoleum.  The woman who had greeted me initially turned out to be the owner.  She told me her staff would show me the vinyl remnants, while she and the priest left to bless her house and her truck (more bad juju there also, I suspect).

I drive by that store almost everyday and often wonder if the priest's blessing lifted the bad juju from their business.  I had left the store that morning exhilarated by my adventure and with a promise from the owner that she would call me later in the day with pricing quotes on the remnants I was interested in.  She never called me back.  So the question remains...was the problem bad juju, or just bad customer service?

Cheers, ya'll


Friday, June 2, 2017

Bye Bye Boomers

To my young friends who are so worried about the future of our country, our planet and our very lives right now, I am here to tell you that you will survive these days.  I see Facebook posts from my 60+ aged contemporaries about how great we had it when we were young and I have to laugh.  Yes, there were a few years, mostly the 1950's, when we had peace, prosperity and our futures looked very bright, but there was also a terrible war brewing in Vietnam, a future president that would shame us with his paranoia and abuse of power, cruel racism, sexism, ruthless dictators and walls built to keep people more in than out.  We felt, at times, both hopeless and powerless, BUT, we did not give up or give in.  We were a large and powerful generation, as you are now.  We impeached that president and sent him packing.  We protested and got out of that war we should have never been in to start with. We fought hard for civil rights and equality.  We regained our prosperity, lost it again, and then regained it again.  We held our government and our representatives to higher standards.  We opened our borders so that others could prosper with us and tore down those terrible walls.  We did all this because it was our generation's responsibility to do so.  Now it's your generation's responsibility.  So don't buy that crap about how much better my generation had it, or how America needs to be made "great again".  Every generation has its own set of challenges and these are yours. AND, don't look to those old, white guys in our halls of government to help you, or even show you the way...make your own way...we did.

I woke up this morning and approached my computer with the sense of foreboding that I have had every morning for months now.  Dreading the daily recap of whatever horrific, cruel or just plain stupid move our leadership made yesterday, but the first thing I landed on was a speech, in English, directed at Americans from newly elected, French president Emmanuel Macron and my heart lifted. Here, I said, is the face of leadership for your generation!  This clear eyed, intelligent, eloquent, YOUNG man.  I am struck by the vision of all those NATO leaders striding down the street last week, standing tall, vigorous and engaging, and our president, in a golf cart, unable to keep up on any level with these young lions.

What you are seeing is not a country unraveling, dear hearts, but an era coming to an end and the desperate clawing and clinging of an old order trying to hang on.  This is what comes of staying at the party too long, it's just sad really.  It is, however, necessary to see the worst of what a generation can become to force new generations to determine who they will be.  I see you, my young friends, doing just that.  I am reminded of a the young John F. Kennedy, who swept out the old Washington establishment, set us on the path of social responsibility, and told us we could put a man on the moon! There was a reason Kennedy's White House was referred to as "Camelot".  His administration represented a new order.  It's hard to believe JFK would have turned 100 years old last month.  It should serve as a reminder that the baby boomers need to step aside and, by doing so, give your generation the space you need to make your world your own.  Oh, make no mistake, I will still call my congressman, still text on resistbot, still follow the news voraciously, and still vote, but I will look to your generation for inspiration and direction.  I know you won't let me down.