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Monday, August 29, 2016

Hoping to Avoid Lola with my Family in NOLA...

The Crying Game...
"Well, I'm not dumb but I can't understand why she walk like a woman and talk like a man, Oh my Lola, lo lo lo lo Lola, lo lo lo lo Lola..."

Believe it or not, when the Kinks released their hit song, Lola, in 1970, it was quite controversial.

For those unfamiliar, it's about a guy who gets drunk at a bar, spends all night dancing with a woman, who turns out to be a man; kind of like of like the Danny Bunaduce experience in lyrics! (Or The Crying Game, sans the conspiracy plot, kidnapping, someone dying, falling in love or being sent to prison.)

In any case, despite the song's release in the backdrop of the sexual revolution, where "free love," "make love not war" and, "if you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with" became emblematic, some radio stations would fade out Lola before the big reveal.

Apparently, they felt it was too strong for kids in the audience, regardless of being a time, as the song lyrics stated, "Girls will be boys, and boys will be girls.  It's a mixed up, muddled up, shook up world..." 

Well, the song and its subsequent controversy hit home for me recently, after my family booked a 4-day Labor Day weekend trip to New Orleans to celebrate our middle child's twelfth birthday, as we had done with our oldest daughter to New York for her twelfth several years ago.

After reading a book about a New Orleans ghost tour, our second girl picked the destination on her own and, having been there twice, including one time with my wife, five weeks after our first daughter was born, I thought it would be a great trip for the entire family (albeit different than the first two); Breakfast at Brennan's, the French Quarter, Cafe du Monde, the Garden District, Camellia Grill, street cars, the Mississippi River, cemetery and ghost tours, the plantations, maybe even passing by Preservation Hall.  Even without the boozing, there's still a lot to do.  

Yes, I know that the town is known for partying, bachelor and bachelorette parties, colorful and shady characters alike and occasional unruliness, but it's also a great place to teach kids about U.S. history (the National World War II Museum is there) and the wrath of Hurricane Katrina that destroyed The Big Easy in 2005.  I got excited.

As always, the first thing I do when we go on trips, aside from looking up the nearest Catholic Church to attend Mass, is getting a Frommer's or Fodor's Guide to plan the excursion.  In this case, I handed the Frommer's to the birthday girl to study and prioritize what she wanted to do.

A couple of days later, as she was compiling a list of things to do and my wife had booked the airfare and accommodations, I'm going through a New Orleans web site and see a tab that said "festivals."  Out of curiosity, I click it and find; Southern Decadence, August 31st to September 5th (the time we will be there!), which stated, "Dubbed the 'Gay Mardi Gras,' this celebration of LGBT culture features elaborate costumes and high fashion" and "now draws over 160,000 participants from all over the world."

It's going to be a madhouse...
Now, you have to understand, we're not much for crowds.  We avoid the Calle Ocho Festival, which is called Mardi Gras South, in Miami like the plague.  I think that the last time I went was 25 years ago! We've never taken the kids to Santa's Enchanted Forest, which can get a bit shady, or the county fair and we certainly wouldn't expose them to the over-the-top insanity at Mardi Gras at this point in their lives!  (Heck, I have never been to Mardi Gras myself or the Columbus Day Regatta in Miami for that matter, which may be worse!) The most we do is take them to their school fair and to Disney!

So talk about culture shock, instead, we're going to be faced with Lola in NOLA; a hundred and sixty thousand strong! Oh, noooo! (I felt like Mr. Bill getting rolled over by a bulldozer or, maybe, like my mom felt when, as a teenager, I told her after watching the Richard Gere film, that I wanted to grow up to be a gigolo!)

We already booked the flight.  We already booked the hotel.  We made reservations at Brennan's and Emeril's!  Why didn't anybody tell us?  (I guess, in retrospect, the airline and hotel are not going to say, "Are you sure you want to go?  It's going to be chaos, man, absolute chaos!")

And, worse, whether I want to or not, whether I'm ready for it or not, I will be forced to explain to my kids about this "mixed up, muddled up, shook up world" we live in.  I can't wait!  Parenting is definitely not easy! Hopefully, this can serve as an invaluable life lesson (if I do it right!).

In the Gospel, St. John writes that "We are in this world but not of it."  That will never be more evident for my family than the Southern Decadence Festival next weekend.

I may not be able to fade to black, like the DJ's did before the big reveal in 1970 but, for the most part, I'm hoping to avoid the craziness on Bourbon Street and the French Quarter.  Although, I'm sure we can't avoid it all.

May the Lord give me the wisdom and perspective to guide my family through it.

At the end of the day, it's like the song says, "Well I'm not the world's most masculine man, but I know what I am and I'm glad I'm a man, and so is Lola... Lo lo lo lo Lola, lo lo lo lo Lola..."

Or, as my wife may sing, "Layla, la la la la Layla, la la la la Layla...." 
  

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