I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville writer with a passion for family travel, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark. Want to get in touch? Use the CONTACT form at the top of the page.
April 18, 2011
If you want major street cred with your friends the next time you’re in New Orleans, take them to Galatoire’s.
You can easily overlook this legendary New Orleans restaurant if you’re not careful, sandwiched as it is between the gaudy sex shops and bars of Bourbon Street. The lettering on the front door is plain. The windows are curtained.
But inside, you’ll find yourself transported to a world of bygone Southern glamour, where the men wear sport coats (it’s required) and call you dahlin’ and the women are bouffanted, tastefully clad, and generally very, very drunk.
Blame the Sazeracs, the restaurant’s signature drink. They’re heavy on the bourbon and can knock you on your you-know-what before you can say Laissez les bons temps rouler. The main dining room downstairs tends to be noisy and raucous, as tables full of inebriated country club types with flushed faces offer up endless toasts and the occasional singalong. I had always heard that the locals are seated in smaller, quieter dining rooms upstairs, and so when my friends and I were offered a table in one of those rooms on Saturday night, I eagerly accepted.
We weren’t disappointed.
Within a few minutes of being seated at our table, an elaborately dressed woman swept in, flanked by two silver-haired gentlemen. I tried not to stare as they sat down at the table beside us, but it was all but impossible. She was old, very old, yet she had a full head of long, riotous brown curls and the diminutive body of an Olsen twin. Her face was stretched so tight that you could bounce a quarter off it and her mouth was drawn wide into a permanent, leering grin. She immediately noticed me looking at her and returned my curious gaze from under her long, fake lashes with a Don’t look at me (Please look at me) simper that Elizabeth Taylor would have envied. Clearly, she was Someone.
Then it hit me.
“Absolutely not,” Jen whispered back.
“Chris Owens!” I said triumphantly.
I was met with blank stares.
“Chris Owens!” I repeated. “She’s only the most famous living burlesque dancer in the whole world. She’s practically New Orleans royalty! She even has her own bar down the street. Look her up on your iPhone and let’s see if it’s her.”
Quickly, Julie pulled out her iPhone and Googled Chris Owens. A few seconds later, she gasped and handed the iPhone to us.
There, staring back at us with a wide, Joker-like smile, a lush mane of ringlets and… not much else… was the woman sitting right next to us.
“Oh, now, that’s awesome,” Jen said. We stared a little more and then our attention was diverted by plates of Oysters Rockefeller and Soft-Shell Crab and Potatoes Lyonnaise. But I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen next. Because we were seated right beside her. And she kept looking over at us. And, well, as I’ve written about here before, I have this little problem.
My problem is that I’m always waiting to be Discovered. It must be a carryover from my childhood, when I dreamed of being the next star of Kids, Incorporated or You Can’t Do That on Television. Even now, any time I go to a concert, a little part of me is always waiting for the singer to shield her eyes, point me out in the audience and say, “You. Yes, you. There’s something really amazing about you. Come up here and join me for a duet.” And I’m pretty sure that when I finally run into Reese Witherspoon here in Nashville, she’s going to take one look at me and say, “I can tell just by looking at you that we were destined to be BFFs! Let’s fly to Canyon Ranch for the weekend!”
“Do you think that just maybe,” I asked Jen and Julie as we ate, “Chris Owens is thinking right this moment that we seem like we are probably really amazing? And she’s going to come over here and insist that we go back with her to her bar? And then she’s going to bring us onto the stage and introduce us to everybody?”
“It could happen,” Julie said, nodding.
“Or she could decide that one of us is destined to be the Next Great Burlesque Dancer,” Jen added.
I thought for a moment. I didn’t really like that idea so much. “No,” I said. “I think she’ll just want us to come to her bar so that she can introduce us on stage to all of New Orleans.” I sat up a little straighter and smoothed my hair. “I’m going to ask to take a picture with her before we leave. She’ll probably really like that. And that will give her a chance to invite us to go back to her bar with her.”
For the next few minutes, I could hardly contain my excitement. We were going to be introduced by Chris Owens on the stage of her bar! I was just sure of it! “Ladies and gentleman!” I imagined her announcing. “Allow me to present Mrs. Lindsay Ferrier! She won’t strip, but she seems really amazing!” I would smile modestly and then perhaps be cajoled by the crowd into singing a Cole Porter tune. It would be a true New Orleans Experience.
Before I knew it, we had finished our meal and signed the check, and so had Chris Owens and company. It was go time.
I stood up, brushed off my dress, and walked over to her table.
“Excuse me, Mrs. Owens,” I said discreetly. “I’m so sorry to bother you, but I’m a huge fan. Could I get a picture with you?”
She looked up at me. I gave her the most really amazing smile I could muster. Surely, she noticed the super sparkly twinkle in my eye, the cartoon birds singing “She really is amazing!” as they flew around my head.
“Oh, I don’t evah take pic-chuhs,” she said, and quickly looked down at her plate.
“Okayuhwellthanksanyway,” I said, my face burning. I turned and fled, Julie and Jen trailing behind me. We didn’t speak until we were out the door.
“I can’t believe it,” I said, crushed. “We were supposed to be sitting at Chris Owens’ table right now, so that she could quiz us about our amazingness.”
“Oh well,” Jen said kindly. “She probably would have expected us to take off our clothes if she introduced us at her club, and that would have gotten awkward.”
But I couldn’t be consoled. I tried to mitigate my pain by buying a pair of sequined, flame-shaped pasties at the shop next door. Yet they did nothing to soften the blow. “Chris Owens is next door at Galatoire’s and she wouldn’t take a picture with me,” I blurted out to the cashier as I paid for my pasties and wiped away a tear.
“Aw no, really?” he said, clucking. “Naw, that ain’t right.”
“I know,” I said. “It was just… It was very upsetting.”
“What’s she not taking pictures for?” he said.
“I KNOW!” I said. “I tell you, I am not feeling very good about myself right now!”
“Don’t let it get you down, chere,” he said. “She probably thought you’d make her look old.”
“Yes!” I beamed. “That’s it! Thank you! I feel better already.” We left and I felt my spirits lift a little.
“You know, he was very nice for a sex shop worker,” I told Jen and Julie. “So kind and sympathetic.”
The moral of this story, of course, is that I should probably stop waiting to be Discovered. Even by an elderly burlesque dancer. I am 35 years old, after all, and the producers of Kids, Incorporated still haven’t called. Perhaps it is time for me to admit that Discovery is, at the very least, unlikely.
I’m going to hold onto those pasties, though, just in case.