Thursday, February 09, 2012

Adventures in citizenship

I was getting ready to leave Iggy's, on Rampart Street, when the phone rang.  Someone had left their keys behind, and Lyle, the bartender had found them.  He asked if anyone was leaving, otherwise he would have sent the keys in a cab to the Bywater neighborhood to deliver them to their owner.  I was leaving.  Though the Bywater is in the opposite direction of my house, I volunteered.  It wasn't too far out of my way on the motorcycle, and I rarely travel down there, so this instantly qualified as a good deed and an adventure.

"Where is he?" I asked.  "At Markey's.  It's a block uptown from the corner of Desire and Royal Streets," was the answer.  I said I could find it, and I took the keys.  The whole errand took about twenty minutes out of my way, but it was in my way.  It was something I should do.

I went down St. Claude Avenue to Desire.  I turned right and crossed Bourbon, Burgundy (pronounced bur-GUN-dee) and Dauphine (doe-FEEN) Streets until I reached Royal.  I turned right again and found Markey's Bar, which is a long shotgun building that looks, to my eyes, like it should be condemned.  Inside, it was a spotlessly clean showplace that would be a welcome respite for the ruling class in a world-class city, like Indianapolis, or Des Moines, or Chicago.  Gritty on the outside, squeaky clean on the inside.  The kitchen smelled good, but I had already eaten.  I found the keys' owner and delivered them.  "Oh, man, they sent you!  You didn't have to to this, baby," he said.  "Can I buy you a drink?" he asked.  I said no.  I was headed homeways, which is always bestways.

I would never have gone into the Bywater except for this errand.  I discovered this beautiful place, and I passed many that I've ignored in the daylight, but were hopping at night.  It was an adventure, and I saw New Orleans in all its pulsing glory.  I didn't stop for a drink.  I used the restroom, and then left, motorcycling homeways along unfamiliar streets whose names I know well from further uptown.  

A good deed is a good adventure.  That is what people should do every day.  When I got home my wife said I was smiling like a cat who swallowed a canary.  I was.  I still am.  I have been to Markey's.

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