It's not about the house.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I’m a Fine Girl, But…

I’m not brandy.

Not generally, at least. I mean, sure, there are certain names I stick to because they’re what I know – ketchup is made only by Heinz, for example, salt by Morton’s, toilet paper by the good folks at Scott. Others I’m loyal to because they’re cheap – Aim toothpaste, Ivory soap, Scott tissue (in case you haven’t noticed, those rolls are pretty darn important around here, important enough to’ve earned themselves the right to double-listing). And a few other things I do try to keep consistent for one imaginary reason or another, but most of those I can’t remember what the brand name actually is, so if they change their packaging, I’m lost.

I keep my deodorant, for example, because I’m used to the smell. I don’t actually know or care who makes it, but as long as it keeps being a red container with a clear blue stick inside, I’ll keep picking it up off the shelf. On the rare occasion that I do use something different – if I stay with Dr. One Friend, say, and forget to bring my own – I spend the day catching random whiffs and inching subtly away from the imaginary person I’m convinced is invading my personal space so boldly as to actually be inside my clothes.

Speaking of Dr. One Friend: if she were here, she’d want me to mention (because she thinks it’s weird), that this deodorant I’m so loyal to is made for men. It would be easy to chalk this up to laziness (why buy two?) or poverty (why buy two?), but the fact is that I do buy two (one armpit hair on the clear blue stick was enough to cement that lesson), and I’ve been using this stuff since back when the full extent of my experience with two deodorants – or Irishmen, for that matter – was on kitschy tv ads for scented soap. Johnny uses Red Container because I do, not the other way around, and I also – on the rare occasions that I dab it on at all – wear men’s cologne. I like smelling like a man, okay? Or, I should say, I prefer musky/spicy/leathery to flowery/powdery/frou-frou, because it’s not like traditional “man smells” are anything but arbitrary chemical inventions, anyway. Really, what a man smells like is sweat and dirt and natural fibers and tobacco, and sometimes, if you’re very lucky, poo. Am I right? 

Righty-ho, EGE! 

Anyway, speaking of secondary sexual characteristics… When I say I’m not brandy, I mean I don’t much care what the hot new thing is (and I have no idea what that has to do with secondary sexuals, but I need a segueway). I’m man enough to admit that – while I definitely see the advantage in a nice Harry & David pear – I simply don’t taste the difference between a ten-dollar bottle of wine and a thirty-dollar one. My chest isn’t hairy enough for Starbucks coffee. I won’t be shamed into buying sea salt because it doesn’t dissolve and it hurts my fillings when I crunch down on a piece, and I have even (some of you, I know, will find this shocking), come to appreciate the appeal of a piss-poor, lemon-yellow, American-style beer.

I still prefer a muscly IPA or ESB, mind you, but Budweiser’s $22 for a case of 36 and Johnny hasn’t had work in a year. I am, apparently, a man, and a man knows when it’s time to hang up the cleats, I’ll tell you what. Am I right?

Righty--wait. What? 
I'm sorry. Could you repeat the question? 

Oh, sure. I could keep repeating the same question over and over and over until everybody wants to punch me in the neck. But I wasn't talking to you. You, sir, can go back to what you were doing. Again. If, you know, you think you can.


I say: A real man knows when it’s time to hang up the cleats. Am I right? 

Righty ho, EGE! 

So, anyway, yeah. This dude-smelling lady with the roll of toilet paper on her desk doesn’t give a hoo for names on labels... but don't you fuck with her Café Du Monde. All right?

 Righty-ho, EGE!

I first tried it at the place itself in 1995. Actually, that's a lie. It was at a satellite cafe in a mall, and I am forgiven for spending three of my 48 precious New Orleans hours at the mall because we were there to see Rockin' Dopsie on the Riverwalk, so nyeah. I liked the chicory flavor fine, but it was one cup of coffee in a three-week cross-country trip that included stops in Seattle, Salt Lake, Alburquerque, Austin and, yes, Orlando, Florida – so let’s not overstate its relative memorability. It paled, for example, beside the Zydeco Twisters. Am I right?

Yea, you right, EGE!

The next time I was down there – this was probably in 2000 or so – I found the Café store, picked up five or six cans, had them shipped, and gave them to loved ones as souvenirs. Kept one or two for myself, enjoyed it, and moved on.

Then I discovered that the Asian convenience store up the road from where we lived then stocked it, but not reliably. I’d buy it if they had it, sometimes I’d pick up a bunch at a time, but then the roof fell in on the little Asian convenience store up the road from where we lived then, and they closed, and I moved on.

(I did try the French Market brand you can buy at Stop & Shop, and I still have the little red plastic scoop that came in it because Johnny insists it will someday be good for something. But if he’s right about that, then that plastic scoop is the only useful thing that came in that can. Nasty? I’d rather drink earwax.)

Then I discovered that a chain of Asian markets in the Boston area had Du Monde, too. This was more reliable. They always had it; they were a chain so it’s not like they were going anywhere; and they were right on my way home from work if I got off at a different T stop and went home the other way. And that is when Cafe Du Monde became my go-to brand.

I think I realized I had a problem when Katrina hit and my immediate response was to go to the Super 88 and buy every can they had in stock.

I'd like to say I was trying to do my part for the economy of New Orleans, but the truth is I was just afraid there's be a break in the supply. There wasn't, and by the time that shopping-cart supply ran out, the Super 88 was out of business. Boo.

Conveniently, Mom & Dad decided to do their part for the economy of New Orleans’ by actually going there. Unfortunately, what they accidentally brought back with them was something called Café Da Mont. It cost the same, and the can looked identical right down to the font, but the stuff inside tasted like it had been swept up from the Bourbon Street gutter on Ash Wednesday. Not to sound ungrateful or anything, but I’d rather suck on Aaron Neville’s big black hairy mole. Am I right?

No, EGE. That’s disgusting. 

Well, sor-ry.

I didn’t tell my mom, though. I thanked her and pretended that I drank and loved that crap, and apparently I played the part so well that when she found the real stuff at her Asian market up in Maine, she agreed to become my dealer. The first batch was free, and after that I’d place an order and we'd work out a meeting place for the exchange.

I’ve never figured out what it is about the Asian markets, by the way, but maybe that analogy is apt. Maybe my drug of choice comes in on shipping routes like lonely sailors, heroin, and longhorned beetles?

Righty-ho, EGE!

Anyway, you know what happened next: my mom got sick. So my source dried up in May. And by the end of August, I was out. I spent a week or so blending espresso beans with Maxwell House and Dunkin' Donuts in a sad attempt to duplicate the taste, to no avail, and then I spent another generic week drinking tea before I remembered about Cafe Du Monde's website! Unfortunately, at that point I was so caffeine-deprived it took another week for me to remember to actually place the order, which then took another week or so to come.

Yes, yes, I know I've added up too many weeks there. It's a teeny bit possible I may be using a device we literary men refer to as comic hyperbole. Deal with it. The point is that the box finally arrived, and now everything's righty-ho in my world. Or in one crucial corner of my kitchen, anyway.

One of these days I really ought to hie myself to the actual, you know, Café Du Monde. But in the meantime...

Can you spot the roll of ScottTM brand toilet tissue in this picture...?


Charlie said...

I don't care that you smell like a man, but do you have to smell like an old man?

HPH said...

Yes, I can. It's behind the can.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes you make me shake my head in wonder. I am like you in so many ways. I use a mens deodorant, drink Aussie beer rather than the fancy imports, don't like sucking hairy moles, am very fussy with my coffee - however I do not like cheap wine.

ege said...

Charlie -- I must be losing my touch. I can't think of a single clever retort. Get off of my lawn!

HPH -- Very good! Now, which can...?

12 -- You made me laugh right out loud first thing this morning with that "don't like sucking hairy moles" thing. Perhaps we are long-lost twins!

HPH said...

The can on the desk!

(okay, alright...)

It would be the can on the left. (Unless of course, that is a reverse image photo.)

How about --> behind the white coffee mug that is behind the can that is on the bottom left side of the stack of cans on the desk?

beardonaut said...

This is the kind of post I wish I had written. Kudos to you. Or maybe the evil eye. I haven't decided yet.

Piss-poor, lemon-yellow American beer can go down here too, but it has to be ice cold and it has to be over barbecue. Otherwise, never! Though I have discovered that you people actually make some decent beer. Red Seal, Abita Turbo Dog, Anchor Steam, and a few others. Which in Sweden would be quote imported beer unquote. Though I prefer Czech beer.

ege said...

Really, Beardo? Wow. Thanks. As if it weren't enough you took time out of your Fabulous Adventure to read my blog, you had to go and compliment me, too. I think all that genuine Kiwi niceness is rubbing off!