One week ago today, I was relaxing on the Moon Walk, watching the Old Man laze along. The Vieux Carre is a lovely little town inside of New Orleans. My daughter and I had just enjoyed some refreshing iced coffees at Cafe du Monde. It was a rare, perfect afternoon.
The sun was tempered by some clouds and a gentle breeze was creeping from the west. I suggested that we park ourselves on a bench overlooking the river and just soak in the scenery. The conversation was perfect. After all, I raised her, so she agrees with me on most subjects, but she always has more intelligent things to say than her old man.
“Big brother?” interrupted our conversation. A short, dark-haired woman had stopped at our particular bench. She eyed my pipe. “Big brother, you wouldn’t smoke cigarettes, too? Could I bum a cigarette, if you do?”
“No. I’m sorry. Just smoke a pipe. Can’t be of much help,” was my reply.
“OK. God bless.” Dejected, she adjusted the 40 ounce tucked under her arm, wrangled her backpack and moved down river.
I turned to my daughter and said, “Did we just get a blessing from Janis Joplin?” Jenn immediately caught the reference to Joplin’s band, Big Brother and the Holding Company. We laughed until I noticed that “Janis,” now 3 benches down river, had smoke trailing behind her matted locks. She found her precious cigarette.
I know she wanted and/or needed some money. I’m intelligent enough to know that the cigarette request was a rouse. I’m also savvy enough to know, if you’re going to panhandle, don’t do it with a 40 ounce under your arm.