With one hand I’d just popped open a cold one. With the other I wielded the basting brush, a magic wand of sorts — or so it seemed from the aroma that rose from the sizzling coals. The marinated Deer-k-bobs had just been drenched with the teriyaki/butter sauce. The grouper fillets got the same but with a dash of lime. The edges of the thick luscious fillets were just browning and I was preparing to turn them. The coals, laced with (green) pecan limbs, got a generous dose of the drippings and the entire backyard was enveloped in a mouth-watering miasma.
Pelayo, Artie and the rest of my chums were consumed with ribald banter while sucking suds on the gazebo. The women were inside, sucking down the Sauvignon Blanc while glued to the TV……Wait a MINUTE!…I thought it was the other way around? The women yakked away and the guys watched TV?
But ah! The Laci Peterson thing was on! No Super Bowl — heck, no lap-dancer — ever captivated us like this thing captivates the women. Not even close. And from the little I’ve heard and seen, the case does strikes me as truly tragic.
I needed a little more basting sauce and went inside where I turned briefly to the TV. Yep, some stern looking Fox commentator-ette had the case all figured out. I nodded at the wives, frowned and rolled my eyes.
"Never mind!" Shirley snapped. " Hurry with the food!…Git!"
"Yeah!" Cindy barked. "We’re hungry!"
Walking back out with the sauce I turned back to the TV for a second. The flashy yuppie blond had gone into that frown of theirs. "What husband?!" she asked indignantly. "Would go fishing and leave an 8-month pregnant wife at home?! And on Christmas eve!"
"BWA-BWA!-HOO-HA-HA-HOO!" My den erupted with uninhibited female mirth. "BWA-BWA-HA!-HA!" They could barely breathe.
"What the hell’s goin’ on in there?!" Pelayo laughed as the guys crammed through the back door. They looked in to see the wives all doubled over, covering their mouths like women do when laughing.
Cindy’s eyes were crunched closed and wine leaked from her mouth. Her torso heaved with convulsions. "Every husband here!" She cackled after catching her breath.
"Yeah!" Shirley shrieked while clutching her friend’s arm. "They didn’t miss a ONE!"
"Does duck hunting count?!" Becky yelled raising her wine glass.
"How bout deer-hunting?!" Tanya seconded.
"How u2018bout BOTH!" an they broke down again.
"At least they made it home for midnight mass!" Tanya laughed as they toasted with wine glasses
"Wanna let us in?" Artie snorted as he popped another brewskie. So I explained what provoked the outburst. The Beltway reasoning of the Fox-babe struck our wives as a bit askew — a bit provincial might be more accurate.
"WOW!" Pelayo cut in. "It sure didn’t seem that funny to y’all when we were DOING IT!"
Pelayo nailed it. Indeed the wives had sounded a lot like Greta (or whoever it was) back then. Heck man, Christmas Eve’s a holiday — and smack at the peak of Louisiana’s prime hunting and fishing season. Why waste it? If the wives were waddling around the house like little hippos, holding their backs and whining etc. — well, all the more reason to go!
Becky was laughing now but I still remember poor Artie getting his bell rung. It wasn’t Christmas Eve but she was probably no more than a month away from parturition, if memory serves, and still doing the laundry, leaning against the dryer for a short breather as I recall….wiping her brow and blowing an errant wisp of hair from her eyes. "Seen my beer-hugger in here?" Artie grunted while rummaging through a shelf above her head, knocking over the Tide, the Mr Clean and several bottles. He turned to leave as they rattled to the ground. "I coulda sworn the damn thing was….?"
From the corner of my eye I caught swift movement. Then — WHOA! — Artie ducked. Just in time too. Becky came around with the Clorox bottle, swinging it like mallet and aiming for his head. The deafening "BONNNGGG!!!" when it hit the dryer told us: "get out, FAST! — and NOW while she’s recocking her arm!"
Turned out we caught a beautiful box of Reds that day. And as we’d just seen, the wives DID get over it. Took a while, though.
In truth, the Fox commentator-ette’s Beltway logic was impeccable. Living where they do, hobnobbing with their ilk, they’d never HEARD of such a sexist outrage. Why absolutely nothing they read or heard from John Gray, Donahue, or Dr Phil, not to mention Oprah or Dr Laura had prepared them for such a horror!
"Tell ya what, honey," Tanya took a drag on her smoke and addressed the TV screen after the hilarity subsided a bit. "Ya better stay in New York!" And she nodded and pointed her wine glass at the screen.
"Yeah, toots, " Cindy toasted after a hearty wine-gulp. "You wouldn’t make it in Bayou country, that’s for damn sure."
My father-in-law used to crack me up. "Ya goin’ in that delivery room again, Hom-Boy-Da?"(Humberto in New Orleanian, similar to Brooklynese. See the hilarious Confederacy of Dunces for the ethnic explanation.) Heck, man…."’
"I know, Pops" I’d sigh, "Y’all’s generation, y’all waited in the waiting room. But it’s different now. We…."
"Waiting room?" he’d snort. "Heck man, we wasn’t even in the hospital! We was down the street at the bar!" They knew were to find us though, when the time came to announce whether it was a boy or a goyl."
Interestingly, most old hospitals in New Orleans have several old bars nearby. Same for funeral homes. The men paid their respects and went down the street to bend an elbow while the women stayed and to mourn and commiserate. Sounds like a good deal to me….seems I was born too late.
Humberto Fontova [send him mail] holds an M.A. in History from Tulane University. He’s the author of Helldiver’s Rodeo described as "Highly entertaining!" by Publisher’s Weekly, as "Terrific!" by Salon.com, and as "Just what the doctor ordered!" by Ted Nugent.