Monday, January 28, 2008
(If you're arriving here late, go back a couple of posts and read about the wedding so you'll be caught up with the rest of the class.)
We left the beauty salon at around 2:30 p.m. and had to be at the church by 4:00 p.m. Although my hotel was about fifteen minutes from the salon, I didn't see this as a problem because all I had to do was check in (I had arranged for some sort of speedy check in service...3 minutes...guaranteed), change my clothes and head to the church. However, the Mardi Gras gods had other plans.
I zoomed down Interstate 10, took the Interstate 110 exit, then took the North Street exit. It was now 3:00 p.m. Plenty of time. All I had to do was drive down North Street to Lafayette Street and...what the hell? WHAT THE HOLY FUCKING HELL?!
The street before Lafayette Street had barricades all around it and, in the distance, on Lafayette Street were shiny happy people marching in a gotdamn Mardi Gras parade. I love Mardi Gras as much as the next guy and, ordinarily, a Mardi Gras parade makes me happy and doesn't give me a million tiny heart attacks.
I took a right and there was absolutely no way I was going to be able to get to Lafayette Street. I took another right and asked a lady for directions. She told me lots of things I already knew, I thanked her and had another little tiny heart attack. I headed back toward North Street and found a policeman. He told me there was no way to get to my hotel and the best advice he could give me was to park as close to the hotel as I could and walk there.
Are you still with me? He wanted me to park my car then walk two or three blocks with my luggage and a bridesmaid dress slung over my shoulder. Yeah, rocket scientist, what was I supposed to do when I reached the parade?
"Excuse me. Excuse me!! EXCUSE ME!!!!! Coming through! Lady with a dress! Move that float, asshole! Maid of Honor!! Maid of Hooonnnooorrrrrrrr!!!"
So, I left the rocket scientist and started driving. It was now about 3:15 p.m. and, in my aggravation with the genius policeman, I had forgotten to ask him how to get back to the highway. I drove a ways until the area started to scare me in totally different ways from the ways I was already scared. I took a right, then I took another right.
I drove a couple of blocks, approaching full panic mode, and came to a stop sign. Suddenly, miraculously looming before me like the Big W in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World was the Interstate 110 on ramp. However, the street leading to the on ramp was barricaded.
This could not be happening. It was now 3:30 p.m., I wasn't dressed and the church was still fifteen minutes away. If I could get to that on ramp, I might make it to the church on time. I called Jen and told her my dilemma and that I would have to dress at the church. I also told her I was staring at my only way out of the hell I had gotten myself into and I would think of something.
I told her, "Fuck it. I'm moving the barricade. I'll call you from the church."
Beyond the barricade, the streets were clear for about two blocks and, beyond that, I could see the parade passing right beside my planned escape route. To add a couple more mini heart attacks to the mix, there were two policemen standing there blocking the street adjacent to the on ramp.
I pulled away from the stop sign, crossed the intersection, got out of my car and moved the barricade. So far, so good. I got back in my car and passed the barricade and, not wanting to cause an international incident of Mardi Gras proportions, stopped the car, got out and replaced the barricade.
Now, all I had to do was make it to that ramp. I drove slowly in case I had to pretend to be confused and lost instead of the barricade moving outlaw that I actually was. As I got closer to the policemen, I realized they were having a grand old Mardi Gras time catching beads and just, generally, yucking it up.
I hit that ramp, checked my rear view mirror and put the pedal to the metal. I got to the church at around 3:45 p.m. and had just enough time to gather my clothes, shoes, hose, black undergarments and jewelry from my bags in the trunk of my car, run to the church and get dressed in a restroom before anyone got there.
When I got to the Hilton that night after the wedding, still in my wedding clothes, I walked up to the desk clerk and told him about my problem with getting to the hotel that afternoon and asked if there was anything he could do about my room rate.
He said it wasn't up to him. I said okay and that I would just call somebody Monday to see if anyone would do anything for me. (I had booked a very expensive room with a river view.)
He asked, "You going to call Conrad?"
"How about Paris?" I asked, "I wonder if she can help me."
We laughed and the other guy behind the counter laughed. That's when I told them about moving the barricades and barely making it to the church on time. I don't know if it was because I wasn't being bitchy or if it was because he knew I was capable of moving police barricades to get my way, but when he handed me my rate card to initial, he whispered, "Let me show you something. Right here. This is your rate."
God bless him, he cut me a heck of a deal and the room was one of the most divine and luxurious rooms I've ever stayed in. Thanks, dude. Thanks, Conrad and, what the hell, thanks, Paris.