Nina’s Travel Rule #30: Fear and Loathing, Far From Vegas…

What people SHOULD be doing in NOLA on a Friday night…

The most recent in my new run of All-American Disasters, the following will relate the tale of how I once spent an evening speeding a rented mustang convertible the wrong way onto the off-ramp of a minor highway, dead drunk, to escape pursuit by three cars full of royally pissed off, baseball-bat-wielding high school kids. Seriously, how does this shit happen to me?? Oh right, we totally started it…

It was a beautiful day in the fair Crescent City, an unspecified number of years ago. As a 25th birthday present to himself (’cause what good is 25 years of age if not to get the cheaper rate on rental cars? Although, after reading the following, I feel car rental companies may want to consider revising this limit…), a buddy had rented himself a cherry-red Mustang convertible for the day. I, being the studious and motivated lil’ thing I was, had spent the day at work, while he and our friend had tooled around New Orleans (I love you, New Orleans Louisiana!), pre-gaming for the evening. Not that we had any plans or anything, other than general dicking around in the pretty pretty car, hence why a bunch of us piled in for a liquor run ’round about 2pm (studious. And motived. I swear!). Now I’m not going to relate the current illustrious careers of these fellows, so let’s just agree to call them Birthday Boy, The Lawyer (oops), The Silent One and Me. Laissez les bons temps rouler, as the say…

The Getaway Car

As I recall, TSO was driving, and we quite quickly and competently acquired about 60 cans of beer (that’s a bald-faced fabrication right there, btw. Our acquisition was neither quick nor competent; I’d estimate it actually took us nearly two fucking hours just to find a store and pick a beer. Clearly we’d pre-gamed a little too exuberantly… And yes, we did finally settle on the magical Coors Original. So sorry), then realized to our horror that we were in Lakeview. You may have heard of Lakeview as the beauteous spot where drunk locals converge to watch hurricanes roll the lake into the city, a sport I always used to enjoy immensely, but this was pre-Katrina and not much was goin’ down except for the high school kids gettin’ fucked up on Mad Dog while groping their drunk-ass Metrie-trash girl-friends. Ahh, Lakeview, the land where suburban track-housing encroaches freely on our beloved Big Easy, where Saints players live before they’re rich enough for the classy ‘burbs, where ‘white flight’ got its reprehensible start… I hated this ‘hood before the big K, during the big K, and after the big K, and shall continue to do so until it actually does sink into the Gulf, Amen.

Lakeshore Drive. Asshole.

To make the best of a bad location (not really, we were just too tipsy to figure anything else out), we headed up to the shores of the recently de-polluted Lake Ponchartrain. So calm and relaxing, top down, me perched on the convertible roof, beers abounding… occasional splash as we chucked our empties into the Lake (I’m sorry, I do hate littering…), or occasionally at a passing stranger in his car… The sound-track to our home-grown evening? Freebird, of course. Don’t ask me why, I can’t remember, but I know at the time that there was an unexpected four-way consensus on a continual loop of this one, terrible, ear-rending song, a musical decision that we found highly entertaining and all others present seemed to resent greatly. Particularly the part where we’d cruise slowly past the high school kids and then screech the music while screaming loudly and throwing shit at them. There was a short interlude before the main event, so TBB and TL could scuffle, something about TL deciding that full beers were way better for chucking into the lake and TBB declaring him guilty of heinous alcohol abuse. I’ll leave that one to the lawyers, haha…

There followed more cruisin’, more chuggin’, and a fascinating pee-break involving me on the roof of a random building (don’t ask), but then we got down to business. I mean, fuck these high-school kids, don’t they have anything better to do with their Friday evenings? Haha 😦 So we took our 538th pass down Lakeshore, playing our 904,872nd rendition of Freebird, and out of nowhere (I swear), TL stood up in the front seat and started screamin’ at some kids that ‘Your momma’s buck-naked in my kitchen cooking me hominy grits!’. Actually, it sounded much more like ‘Yo’ mawmmaw’s buck-nekid in ma kitchin cookin’ me hawwwminy grits!’, but whatever, NOLA accents are what they will be. I do feel the comment needs further elaboration, however.

The only acceptable way to eat grits. Covered in shrimp, clearly.

‘Grits’, for those who haven’t experienced this regional specialty, are a disgusting Southern breakfast food similar to oatmeal or porridge, but made of corn. They are beloved by all peoples, in all regions of the Southern US of A, fuck knows why. ‘Hominy grits’ is actually a fairly redundant phrase, as nearly all grits (with the exception of the instant kind, which bear no mention by real cooks, food-lovers or even humans generally) are made from hominy, which is kinda like Native American corn on acid, for breakfast, except totally not as interesting as I just made that sound (hominy grits). Perhaps of slightly more relevance to our story, Southern boys don’t like it when you talk shit about their mommas. Certainly not if the shit you’re talkin’ involves their mommas and you. In the kitchen. Buck naked. And absolutely not when you’ve been offending their ears, as well as their mommas, with unstoppable Lynyrd Skynyrd for the past couple hours. Hence the following reaction:

1) A general air of stunned disbelief.

2) A general air of what-the-fuck-did-that-asshole-in-the-red-convertible-just-say??

3) A general air of high-school kids reaching for car keys and blunt objects.

4) A general air of revving engines and squealing tires…

So, needless to say, we took off. Like, fast. Not fast enough, though, as we were just drunk, while they were both drunk and quite appropriately enraged. As we fled down Lakeshore Drive, the thought occurred to me, not that This is really TL’s fault and we should just throw him to the bastards, no, wait, he’s our friend and that would be rude. Also that was Fucked-Up Funny; no, the thought that I had was Shit, me and TBB should probably get down off the top of the car. So instead we chucked some beer cars at our pursuer, which appeared to be a vintage 1986 piece-o-shit-car. But damn! Either those kids could drive, or they were more pissed off than we’d thought, ’cause TSO’s best evasive manoeuvres were gettin’ us nowhere. We could actually hear them swearing and threatening us while doing about 60 through the ghetto. Anyone who’s ever driven a car in New Orleans will realize this was quite a feat, even had we been sober, as this, you may recal, is the city that holds a yearly Largest Pothole In Town competition, with the winning hole regularly topping two feet in depth. It’s also the universally acknowledged hardest city in America to navigate by road map; when you put a town between a curvy lake and a curvier river, you really should not be surprised the roads aren’t fucking straight, you know? Normally this is fine, as we had mainly locals in the car, but maybe not so fine when you’re desperately inventing escape routes on the fly, while being pursued by deranged Holy shit, is that kid waving a baseball bat out his window?? Yes, fuck, he was.

Somehow we now realized that we’d arrived at the Airline Highway. It’s not a big one, as highways go, but probably we still shouldn’t have driven up onto it using the down ramp. It seemed a really good idea at the time, however, ’cause like, there’s no way they would follow us, it’s not a split highway, and we could just flip a bitch (that’s pull a U-turn for y’all non-New Orleanians) and head off somewhere else, right? Totally worked too! Well, ’til we exited to find the fuckers waiting for us on the off ramp. Jesus, we’re racing again… Beat the little bitches though, as we squealed across the road, the wrong way again, to a full stop in the front parking space of a lovely, heaven-sent police station. To this day I cannot say why we thought the police would help the four drunk-asses in the convertible, but it worked out, and the kids took off, followed, after a respectable 15 minute wait, by us.

Upon arriving home and regurgitating the story to TBB’s unbelieving roommate, we experienced a feeling common to anyone who’s ever adventured into the great unknown and lived to tell the tale. I think they call them adrenaline junkies? Anywho, the whole fiasco started sounding funner and cooler and, well, maybe we could just like, head back up there? Maybe just a little bit?

Not being one to miss out on a good disaster, and never having been a fan of the Women Can’t Drive Stick, Or At All, For That Matter school of thought, I of course took this opportunity to insist upon my rights as a 19-year-old rock-star to drive the car. The boys musta been drunker than I thought (??), ’cause it was totally me who took the wheel, as well as the glory, upon our triumphant return to the Lake. Additional supplies were first acquired (seriously, did four people just drink 60 beers, minus Lake-losses?), Freebird was then re-blasted and, finalizing our preparations, TL took the high seat in back. After a couple passes (woo! the assholes are back!), we determined that yes, the mint 1986 piece-o-shit-car was indeed present, and the aforementioned food-based momma-obscenity was re-yelled. And this time, although yes, we totally asked for it, like at least twice, we got a bit more than we’d expected. Not one, but three vehicles crammed full of homicidal, steroidal, football-player-sized teenagers (shit. I just realized I was also a teenager. Totally different though, I was in college!) were now in hot pursuit.

My innate rally-sport-racer then took over, and I drove like a woman possessed. Possessed of fucking skillz, that is. I wove, I turned, I disregarded both pedestrians and sidewalks. I cornered like a mother-fucker. I at one point glanced in the side-view to see a pick-up truck with psychos filling the bed, the mint 1986 POSC with baseball bats breeding out the windows, and what I can only describe as a muscle-car straight out of Dazed and Confused, lined in a row, about a foot off my back bumper. We jostled for place. We swerved in and out of traffic and on and off the actual road. At this point I was doing 65 down the Robert E. Lee Blvd., which actually is a pretty big road (and hypothetically marked at a mere 35 mph). Like, six – eight lanes, heavy traffic, everybody else also drunk (ahh, NOLA on a Friday night…), the works. TBB had been co-piloting for a while, generally along the lines of ‘Turn right FUCKING NOW. JUMP that curb. FLIP THE BITCHES!’, etc., when his flash of brilliance occurred.

TBB: ‘Fucking run that red light!’

Me: ‘…’

And I fucking ran that red light. Not by like, a little; like, curbed around some stopped cars and then ran dead-ass through the middle of it.

Sound of multiple police sirens…

Me: ‘…’

And then appeared the most magical sight I’ve ever seen through a side-view mirror. Three cop cars had pulled over a pick-up truck, a POSC, and a muscle-machine, just the back side of that traffic light. I slowed to a matronly 34.5 mph and chauffeured us home, where we celebrated our narrow victory with, yup you guessed it, Coors Original.

I feel that the moral of this story may just be: Fuck You, high-school kids, and think twice before you mess with the biyatch in the mustang!

The Beverage of Choice. Aka: the Banquet Beer!

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