Thursday, March 22, 2012

Who Dat



My black and gold feather boa wreath has been tucked away in a plastic bag in my closet since February, along with several pairs of over sized black and gold Mardi Gras beads, an assortment of Fleur de Lis and a black and gold rendition of the American flag.

I took them down -- reluctantly - after the Saints' humiliating loss to the 49ers in the second round of the playoffs. Like every other loyal Who Dat, I wasn't ready for the season to end just yet. And certainly, not like this -- losing in the final seconds of the game on a play every Who Dat in America could see coming.

I was embarrassed.  We expected more than this. We were better than this.

At the time, I posted to my Facebook friends -- a group that includes a large amount of fellow fans as well as several sports writers and other assorted newspaper folk -- that I felt like a spouse in a really good, strong marriage. I still loved my Saints, I said,  but I was really, really mad at them.

Then came the rumors about "Bountygate." The Saints were being investigated for having a bounty system in which players were paid bonuses for not just hitting opposing players, which they are paid to do and expected to do and do well, but for trying to actually hurt them, cause injuries, have them carted off the field on a stretcher. And the coaches not only knew about this,  but instigated it.


Then, I posted, I felt like the Saints had cheated on me.

Well now I feel like they got her pregnant. With twins.

Yesterday the NFL brought the hammer down on our beloved Saints, the team that lifted a region and indeed a whole nation from the mud and the muck left in Katrina's wake. Coach Sean Payton, suspended for a year. General manager Mickey Loomis, suspended for eight games. The team fined $500,000. Our former defensive coordinator, who allegedly organized the whole thing (I'm a crime writer now), banned indefinitely (and that's a good thing).

But it hurts like hell.


Some of my fellow Who Dats are angry, insisting that Commissioner Roger Goodell is picking on "us," making an example of "us," trying to insure that we will NOT  be the first home team to ever host a Super Bowl (Super Bowl XLVII is in New Orleans next February). Really?

Some are insisting that every team is doing it (so it must be OK) and we are being singled out. Or that we did nothing wrong.

Only a handful -- like me -- believe we got what we deserved.

As a sports writer for 23 of my 25 years in this business -- and as a fan for all of my life -- I know that football is a violent sport. Hitting is part of the game. Injuries are part of the game. And hard hits are rewarded, with pats on the butt, slaps on the helmet, stickers, Player of the Week honors, spots on the All-Metro team and championship trophies. But when a player intentionally sets out to injure and or maim another -- even for what we consider to be pocket change -- well, that's crossing the line. And that's what we did.

I am a long-suffering fan. I endured the humiliating losses, the humiliating seasons, the jokes, the 'Aints. I once wrote "Don't laugh," when I was asked to select my favorite team on my Sports Illustrated subscription card.

And the night "we" won the Super Bowl, I took my daughter and danced in the street, celebrating with unprecedented joy the end of our suffering.

But now our halo is crooked and our one shining season is tarnished. People are talking about asterisks next to our name.  We are, once again, a laughingstock. Worse, we are said to be "dirty."

But I still believe.

So I will hang my wreath on my front door in the fall -- heck, maybe even tomorrow.  I will cheer for them this season and next, no matter who coaches them, no matter who quarterbacks them, no matter who runs the ball into the end zone. 


But I am embarrassed. I expect more than this. We are better than that. 

Who Dat.




Saturday, March 17, 2012

Out to pasture

I wonder how the race horse feels
   When she's led out to pasture
       After years of glory.

Does she appreciate the fact
   That there are no more pressures or demands
        Or deadlines,

That before her lies only lazy days
    Waiting for life to happen
       Waiting for something to happen..

While the brain turns to mush.

Or, I wonder if he is tempted to mosey on over to the corner
     And just eat the damn poison ivy?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Curvy girl

I guess it's been about a half a year now since my daughter decided that my work as a mother was done. She's all grown up now, you know.

So, she says, she no longer needs me to help her take a shower, or make sure she gets all the conditioner out of her hair.

She no longer needs me to help her pick out what clothes to wear, or put them on.

She no longer needs me to help her comb her hair or make it look pretty.

She is all of 11 now, after all. A big girl.

So she started telling me NOT  to come into her room when she's changing. I have to wait until she comes downstairs to tell her to go try something else.

And she started locking the bathroom door behind her with a solid click when she showers, not opening it again until the water heater is empty, steam fills the air and water covers the floor.


But lately I've noticed that she did  need a little help in the rinsing department, so the other night I sort of demanded that she leave the bathroom door unlocked. And, after what I thought was a long enough span, I went in.

"Let me look," I said. "Turn around."

She dutifully turned her back to me and I reached for her wet head.

And as I did, I got the shock of my life.

There it was, clear as day. Her spine. And the big letter "S" it makes, just like on the X-ray we saw as the baby-faced doctor confirmed Scoliosis. 31 degrees.

"Significant."

And, again, my heart just broke.

What kind of a mother am I?

How did I not see that? Was it always there? Did I miss it? How did I miss it?

Oh, I noticed that she stands kind of awkward and funny. Stiff. Yeah, a little crooked maybe.

But we just thought it was a phase that came with too much height too soon.

And when she played basketball and volleyball we saw right away that she can't really run. At all. As my Cajun friends say, "She can't outrun lighting in a day."

But all summer long, even in an ever-shrinking bathing suit, I never saw the curve in her back, the "S" in her spine.

I hope it wasn't there all along.

Because now we're ordering her a brace, one that she will have to wear up to 12 hours a day. For the next two to four years. So that the rest of her growth will be straight and not crooked -- excuse me, "curvy."

But she will always be.

And I will always wonder, how did I not see it?











Dancing in the rain

Lora: Today was a great day!
Me: It was? Why?
Lora: We had Enrichment and just as I was going outside, it started to pour, out of nowhere!
Me: Why was that great?
Lora: Because I got to dance in the rain!
Me: :)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Tick, tock



My belly is full of filet mignon and garlic mashed potatoes, salad with creamy Italian dressing, hot French bread dipped in sauce, several pieces of stuffed artichoke and two glasses of wine.

I'm so glad I wore my stretchy pants.

My husband, my mother, my daughter, my step children and their respective significant others gathered with me tonight at one of my favorite restaurants, Crazy Johnnie's Steakhouse.

 I know, I know.  I live in New Orleans (the suburbs, anyway), and I'm supposed to be eating red fish covered with crawfish etouffee and crab meat au gratin at Galatoire's. But, frankly, I'm not a millionaire.  And the French Quarter is far, far away (with a $12 parking fee).

And while I do enjoy my share of boiled crawfish, crabs and shrimp, I am primarily a carnivore. I love my steak.

And just when I thought I couldn't take one more bite, our nice waitress brought out a huge slice of chocolate mousse cake with a little candle on it and she, my family and several other patrons sang "Happy Birthday" to me.

Now I"m pretty tired and sleepy and I would just love to go upstairs and crawl into my nice, soft bed with the cool sheets and my warm husband.

But I can't.

I'm waiting. Waiting for the clock to strike midnight.Waiting for my 49th year to end and my 50th to officially begin.

I  admit it. I love my birthday. All of them. Yes, even this 50th.

 Here I am like a little kid waiting for the party to start. I am. Tomorrow is my birthday. And I'm so excited I can hardly stand it.

And I don't understand why everyone doesn't feel this way.

Just the other day a childhood friend celebrated his big 50th birthday. I dutifully wrote on his Facebook wall my hopes for his happiness, good wishes and birthday cake.

"Thanks," he replied. "But it's just another day."

NO IT'S NOT.

It's your birthday. The anniversary of the day you were born. The day you became you.

To quote Dr. Seuss (from my favorite book): "Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you." 


Read that book. It's how every birthday should be celebrated -- with food and horns and people coming out of the woodwork.


As children, we counted down the days, excited for the party or the presents or the new bike dad promised to buy.  Sure I was spoiled. My parents always made a huge deal out of my birthday. I had parties with my friends, cakes with pink roses and Hawaiian punch in my Grannie's milk glass punch bowl.

Even as I grew older, I knew it would be a day to gather with family. My grandmother would slip me an extra $20 bill. It was the one day of the year my father would call me.


The way I see it, birthdays are like your very own special Christmas. It's the day people will think of you. Remember you. Celebrate you. 

I keep a calendar every year, and every January I dutifully mark the birthdays of the friends and family members in my life. But I could just as easily mark the dates of my second grade boyfriend, the guy I had a crush on in high school and my college boyfriend. I still remember them and I think of them on that date, wonder how they are and wish them well.


I remember my father on February 23rd, my grandmother on July 16, my grandfather on August 26 and my brother on September 29. And wish I could help them blow out one more candle.

A few years ago I said the same thing to my father-in-law, Pappy, on his birthday.

"Just another day," he replied.

"Hey," I said. "Enjoy it. You don't know how many more you're going to have."

It was his last. July 19th. 


Celebrate. While you can. For as long as you can.


I am.








 

Monday, March 5, 2012

50

I thought that I would never see
     A face this old belonging to me!
I look in the mirror and WTF I say,
     As I approach this "BIG" birthday.
I may look strong and ready to go,
     But in truth my years are starting to show.
Just follow me to the checkout at CVS
     And you'll see that I am just a hot mess.
There's dye for my hair and creams for my face,
     And stuff that promises years to erase.
I've tried all the pills to make me thin,
     And potions to make me look young again.
But my tummy still pooches and my arms still wag,
     And my Double Ds have a definite sag.
My roots turn gray every once in a while,
     And I buy special paste to brighten my smile.
And then there's that big bottle of Aleve,
     For all these aches and pains to relieve.
My hip, my knee, my back, MY FEET!!
     The neck -- Oh hell when did I get so beat?
What have I done to take this toll?
     When did I get to be so damned old?
I sowed my wild oats in Uptown Nola,
     I spent seven years of my life at Loyola!
I had a sports writing career that I loved so well,
      Until this newspaper business went all to hell.
Now I'm benched, living a live of crime,
     And wasting much of my employer's time.
I've loved handsome boys and a famous one too,
     But ended up with the one I was meant to.
 Fifty years I've lived this life,
     17 of them as Marty's wife.
Six years spent waiting for a dream,
     Years of frustration that made me want to scream.
Finally, the last 11 as Lora Leigh's mother,
     And also as a sister without a big brother.
So come on Big 50, I welcome your sight,
     I will party all through Thursday night.
No surprises in store for me this week,
     My husband is not a good enough sneak.
I planned my own celebration to have my fun,
    While The Coach is off hoping for the winning run.
I'm psyched for the fiesta with blue birthday cake,
     And also for the pre-birthday steak!
Some friends will remember and remember to call,
     Some others will just write on my Facebook wall.
It will be my own very special day,
     Well, me and Mickey Dolenz, any way.
And though I'll be happy to celebrate,
     I'm wondering how much time is left to my fate.
 So come Friday I will take good care,
     It's March the 9th and I must beware.
And to all who will wish me good birthday cheer,
     I say, "Thank You" -- until next year.

                                                                 Love,
                                                                    Lolo


    

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