Tanner Efinger is blogging about his two-month road trip through America before skipping across the pond to England with his partner, Nick. Follow their adventure from Los Angeles to Vancouver to New Orleans and up the Mississippi River as they traverse the purple mountains’ majesty.
It was a Tuesday evening in September—Mardi Gras was a distant memory and Southern Decadence had just passed—but a group of drunk middle-aged tourists were determined to partake in the New Orleans tradition that they’d heard so much about. Who was I to deny them? I’m not Pamela Anderson, so my boobs are apparently worth only two strands. But for one tipsy moment, I was proud of my spoils.
By night or day, New Orleans is inspiring, a city of mischief. Even in fall, The humidity still hung like soup as ivy clung lazily to the French Quarter’s wrought-iron balconies. And the streets still carried the weight (and vomit) of stumbling sinners.
The Big Easy scoffs at last call: Even in the wee hours, g-strings are stuffed with dollar bills. Outside gas lamps flicker a warning of a rain that never comes. At least not for us.
After a twelve-hour drive from Tulsa, Nick and I had only expected to go for a quick drink or two at a local gay bar, Bourbon Pub & Parade (locally referred to as “The Pub”). But the casual atmosphere was so inviting and the crowd was so pleasant, that simple drink or two became a few more (to say the least). Then it was off to the next bar.
We made our way to the somewhat seedier Corner Pocket, where a handful of scantily clad boys balanced on the bar like acrobats. As they came our way, we conceded the odd dollar or two, but only if they answered a few questions.
“Where are you from?”
“How long have you worked here?”
After that night, I decided to rename my memoir Conversations with a Go-Go Boy.
Having drunk our fill, Nick and I stumbled a few blocks from the madness on Bourbon Street toward some abandoned but still gated courtyards. There was magic and a little danger in the air—they call it voodoo here—and we accommodated it accordingly. Possibility seemed to give word to the night.
The next day, the sound of saxophones serenaded us through hangover that lasted until five in the afternoon.
We ached and groaned and I wondered, If I can’t keep up with a 22-year old version of myself, who am I in this gay community?
I’ve always associated being a gay man with booze, late nights and mischief. Things are different now: With Nick at my side, I’m thinking about the approaching future: children, a mortgage, the vague construct of security.
I guess they call it growing up.
But we’ll always have New Orleans and the memory of sweet jazz, party beads, charming go-go boys and hangovers that cling to your skull like ivy.
Images via Tanner Efinger, DSB Nola