Carnival -- Tis the Season for Houseguests
(A version of this piece originally appeared as a "Scatire" in the now defunct local 'zine, Scat.)
To: New Orleans residents
From: New Orleans Travel and Visitor's Bureau
We here at the Visitor's Bureau are aware that each spring, as hordes of non-residents descend on our fair city to get their dose of whatever it is the rest of America doesn't offer them, there are those of you who take on more than your fair share of housing some of these visitors. As a sign of our appreciation for the boost these unofficial hosts give to our tourism business, and to provide them with further incentive to continue to interrupt their daily routine for weeks at a time and turn their homes over to these travelers, we are now offering the Frequent Hoster's Award program.
Award values below:
1. The New Yorker
A major benefit of hosting the New Yorker is she will continually express shock at how cheap everything is and then offer to pay for it all. Downside is she'll show up having already bought your ticket to the 2 a.m. Meters concert without first checking to see if you like the Meters, no matter their current incarnation. The New Yorker will spend hours on the cell phone coordinating with other visiting New Yorkers, and has the tendency to overdo it her first night in town. Later, she'll blame any indiscretions on the cheap liquor.
The New Yorker must have: cell phone charger on her person at all times.
Award for hosting The New Yorker: 500 free anytime cell phone minutes. And not New York minutes, either.
. The Conventioneer
A self-described middle manager who does nothing of value or interest to even the other 3,000 middle managers he has come here to "network" with, The Conventioneer mostl likely will be drunk even before he gets off his Southwest flight, begging to be taken to Bourbon St. The Conventioneer will, without fail, wear only standard-issue khaki shorts, a loud, floral-patterned vacation shirt, and the practical running shoes his wife bought him that he's worn only once before, to a convention last year in Cancun. His travel tastes are distinguished from his regular tastes not by direction, but degree: He wants more alcohol, more T&A than his home cable subscription offers, and more shirts like the one he has been wearing for two days straight. And while he's here, he plans to do even less work than he normally does. Conventioneers must have: a Hurricane; at least one altercation with a law enforcement officer
Award for Hosting the Conventioneer: Free parking in the French Quarter for one weekend.
3. The Drifter
Usually a friend of a friend's friend, The Drifter generally turns up only during Jazzfest and rarely has a firm return date. Often of ambiguous European descent, The Drifter will display an alarming interest in your CD collection and will promise to send you the live bootleg version of all your favorites just as soon as he gets back home, however vague he may be about where, exactly, that is. Hosting advisory: The Drifter may be found on your couch reading the want ads several days after his originally intended departure date.
Drifters must have: A round-trip ticket.
Award for hosting The Drifter: Free coffee for a week at any of the Rue locations, where the Drifter most likely will be when he's not at a club or sleeping on your couch.
4. The Agenda Setters (see also: New Yorker)
The agenda setters will instruct you to pick them up at Louis Armstrong Airport upstairs at Departures, because they won't have checked bags, and they won't tolerate the lines downstairs. Determined to see every last site listed in their dog-eared guidebook, the Agenda Setters will insist you join them for a four-hour D-Day Museum tour -- a mere hour after you've left the Aquarium. Note: Agenda Setters are often related to the host. This does not disqualify the host from Award Program eligibility. Agenda Setters must have: Beignets at Café Du Monde, Kermit, and Jacques-Imo's Alligator Cheesecake.
Award for hosting the Agenda Setter: Guaranteed reservations at Jacques-Imo's and 1 voucher for a free po-boy at Crabby Jacks -- for after you've dropped your guests off at the airport. Upgrade Awards Available if host takes St. Charles instead of the much faster Claiborne Ave. every time he/she drives the Agenda Setter Uptown.
5. The Impinger
The Impinger will feign fierce independence in an e-mail asking whether you might like to "meet up" sometime while she's in town. By the time she reaches you by phone, The Impinger's supposedly spontaneous invitation invariably will have expanded into a supposedly unexpected need for "a place to crash for a night or two." Despite her free-wheeling, devil-may-care charisma, you are likely to find her standing by your bed each morning as you wake, saying plaintively "I'm hungry." She is absolutely clueless that she drives you crazy, and will notice that you have all but abandoned your home during her visit only when she needs to be fed or a ride somewhere. Must have: lost her mind if she thinks you'll ever let her stay here again.
Award for hosting The Impinger: Free room at the Windsor Court for as long as The Impinger overstays her welcome.
6. The Perfect Guest
The Perfect Guest gives you months of advance notice, and once they're here, expresses equal affection for West Bank Vietnamese food as for famed French Quarter favorites. Has no agenda other than to eat well, hear good music, and enjoy the city. Understands New Orleans' charms are best not taken, but received. Also known as Your Friend. Must have: Lots of good things to say about the city to anyone who will listen
Award for hosting The Perfect Guest: The satisfaction of knowing that your guest left with a firm understanding of why you still like calling New Orleans "home."
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