On Sunday morning, decked out in matching Salomon trail shoes (mine were newer and shinier and prettier, of course), Brent and I left our hotel in the Garden District to walk the two miles to New Orleans’ French Quarter.
We made our way downtown slowly, stopping along the way to take pictures, explore historic buildings, and imitate Civil War generals. During the walk, I noticed some irritation on the backs of my heels, but I didn’t think much of it. Should’ve pulled my socks up higher, I figured.
Me and Robert E. Lee, striking a pose...
By the time we got down to Bourbon Street, it was 11:30 AM. We had half an hour to find a bar that would be playing the Eagles-Giants game. We rounded a corner and came face-to-face with the Acme Oyster House. Two nights earlier, at my family’s belated Chanukah party, my uncle told Brent that if there was one thing he HAD to try in New Orleans, it was a fried oyster po’ boy from the Acme Oyster House (my uncles have given up on giving me “must-have” food suggestions – they figure I’ll always disappoint).
“Welcome to Acme Oyster,” the hostess said as soon as we walked in the door. “A table for two?”
“Will you be playing the Eagles game here?” I asked, eyeing the four TV’s on the wall.
The woman stared at me incredulously.
“I know the Saints are playing at 1 pm, too,” I said, almost apologetically. “I just thought you might have more than one game on.”
“Honey,” she replied. “When the Saints are playing, the Saints are playing.”
Well, that was that.
To appease my uncle, we sat down at the bar and Brent wolfed down a bowl of jambalaya (he decided that if he didn’t like oysters, mayonnaise, or pickles, he probably wasn’t going to like the po’ boy). Then, we headed down the street to Huck Finn’s, where a large sign assured us that they’d be showing every game.
We snagged two seats near the TV marked ‘Eagles-Giants,’ sharing a table with a former Philadelphian and his fiance. For the next two and a half hours, we chatted with our new friends, listened to the Saints die-hards chant “Who Dat,” and watched a group of Giants fans cheer as the Eagles dug themselves into a 21-point hole.
Then Brent Celek caught a 65-yard pass for a touchdown. And Michael Vick started running the field. And the Giants fans began frowning. And then groaning. And then stringing together curse words that would make John McEnroe blush.
The southerners were not so taken with the New York charm.
As the end of the fourth quarter neared, all of the Saints fans had turned their attention to the Eagles game.
“We’re from Atlanta,” one woman yelled to me, “and we just love Michael Vick. We think he’s paid his dues and we’re so happy that he’s getting a second chance.”
I didn’t think it was a good time to get into an in-depth discussion about my feelings on Vick, so I smiled and said that Philly’s certainly enjoying having him around.
An older man shy a handful of teeth slapped me on the back with each caught pass.
A Kansas City fan looked on with disdain as the Giants table became increasingly aggressive.
With minutes to go, the Eagles tied the game, and in the final seconds, as we all prepared ourselves for overtime, Desean Jackson bobbled a punt return and, recovering his own miss, ran the ball back for a touchdown.
Game over. The Eagles had scored 28 points in the final seven minutes to win. The Giants fans sat in stunned silence as several patrons came over to offer us high fives and congratulations.
“After the second quarter,” said one man, loudly enough so that the Giants table could hear, “those guy said the game was over. Well? Now it’s over.”
We said goodbye to our new friends and left the bar a few minutes later. As we began to walk down the street, I noticed again the persistent pinching on the back of each of my ankles. I looked down and saw hot spots where my new shoes were rubbing against my heels.
“Should we take a cab back?” Brent asked, when I mentioned the discomfort.
“Nah,” I responded. “They can’t get any worse, right?”
“Sure they can,” smiled Brent.
We wandered around the city for a few more hours, and when we finally made it back to our hotel, I walked gingerly into our room and looked down at my feet.
My shoes and socks were a bloody mess – and my heels didn’t look much better.
Grimacing, I dabbed at the wounds and turned to Brent. “Tomorrow is definitely a flip-flop kind of day.”
Stay tuned for Part Three – The Luck of the Thongs.