New Orleans Sketches II
There’s a lot of bars in New Orleans. You could go to a different bar every day of the year and still not find them all. Some bars have better memories than other, reminding me what it was like to feel empty or drunk or forgetful. Some bars remind you of a woman you’d give anything to forget. I walked to this bar named Cosimo’s because it’s ordinary. It’s not trying to appeal to college kids from Alabama or pretend it got a black eye by Time a hundred years ago. There’s no superficial voodoo store next door, but that doesn’t mean it is not possessed. I won sixty bucks in one of the video poker machines once and you can smoke in the bar which is a rare treat. Smoke circles ladies’ heads like halos and the TVs are always on ESPN or a Jeopardy rerun. They have a kitchen that serves greasy food and a side room with a pool table and couches pulled from someone’s yard sale. The bartenders are always female, but they don’t have big boobs and can drink you under the table.
I wasn’t supposed to be feeling like one of the walking dead, but it had happened again. Wrote a poem for a young woman from Princeton, New Jersey and was surprised when she handed me a hand written note telling me I was handsome and her phone number. I called her and we spent the day together exploring New Orleans and making out. I brought her to Cosimo’s and we had the whole pool room to ourselves, one of those New Orleans nights that feels like it will never end. She was moving to New Orleans in three months so I had reasons to be optimistic, but I was a fool. I was really excited and Erika had a luminosity about her, a condition I later learned was called bipolar.
For the life of me I can’t remember what we talked about. We played pool like amateurs and I whispered things in her ear as she tried to make a shot. We sat on the couch and she rested her head on my shoulder and my poor heart couldn’t take it. I wanted her in spite of myself. We shared a cigarette, two lonely souls killing time waiting for the sunrise.