Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Paulie Cut That Rug Up Dance A Jig
It was soap and cold water clean but that old 'Llac had lost it's shine a couple decades prior. I kinda like the way an old car gets a certain patina to it though. If the original paint is still intact and it's not got too much bondo in it a car looks like a painting of it's self. It'd still bark a tire though and rode nice enough. Our Lady Of Gaudalupe hung from the rear view mirror and smelled like a french whore as she twirled round in the midnight swelter. Rod and Kenny had snot coming out of their faces they were laughing so hard. I was desperately defending my self and blaming it all on my fool ass buddy Rod. Sass was tryin' to catch her breath between laughin' and cussin' us like dogs as we pulled out onto the black top and rolled down highway 190 with a rabbit moon lighting the bayou up like a dance floor at a disco.
We'd just left a card game in a little bit of a hurry 'cause my buddy Rod Winiarski had got down pretty bad and into Conrad for like 12 hundred dollars. Conrad had a house game on the east side of Slidell and some cool hustlers and characters regularly attended. Rod had got down and come almost all the way back and Conrad was right pissed about it. Conrad had Rod all but broke and then Rod got on a roll and won like 5 hands in a row and came back. It was Conrad's game and his buddies were givin' him hell about not finishing Rod off. "Uh Oh here he comes Conrad, he's comin' back", they'd say every time Rod placed a bet. "Hell he ain't goin' any wheres, Rod'll play cards all night with me after y'all pussies are long gone off to bed. Isn't that right Rod".
Conrad was a great big coonass motherfucker with a head big as a bushel of turnips. His face was getting red and he was offering Rod drinks and telling Rod how he'd better not come to his game and run off after an hour off two. Conrad was intimidating as hell. You could tell he was short fused and we'd all heard about how crazy and dangerous he was. He was really leaning into Rod. It was definitely not a gentleman's game at this point. Conrad lost another hand and threw his glass against the wall. Even his old buddies were getting nervous and tellin' him to ease up. He started cussin' Rod some too, really starting to loose his composure. To say the least he was not a good looser. Hell he wasn't even loosing, he was still up. It was getting ugly and real uncomfortable.
Rod, as soon as he got back with in a few dollars of even, left Conrad sitting there like a bulldog at the end of a chain with a torn off piece of pants leg clinched in his teeth. Sass said "Rod you and Boo are gonna get all those goddamned saddles off my porch before I leave at 7 tomorrow morning". "Now we can sit here and play cards all night long but you sons-a-bitches are movin' that tack before I leave". There wasn't any doubt in anyones mind. Not even Rod's or mine, and we'd sold all that tack the morning before. It was already gone. But Sass laid down the law and gave us the opportunity to ease out of there and that was that. I looked at Conrad and shrugged and said "hey man, I sure do appreciate you, we gotta get though". Conrad stood up and pounded both his sledge sized fists down on the table and said, "Boo Ray you take that dog ass buddy of yours and get him the fuckin' hell out of here. I don't wanna see that son-of-a-bitch ever again". Rod and Kenny Wood the other guy who was with us walked out the front door and Sass and I followed. Rod started laughing before we even fuckin' got to the car and Sass walked up behind him and smacked him in the back of the head real hard. We all piled into the old white Eldorado and got the hell out of there.
By the time we got back to the black top and off the old dirt road Conrad lived on Sass had us in stitches and about to damned die. She was like "Conrad would've had you motherfuckers chained up sittin' out there on concrete slabs like his fuckin' coon dogs if I hadn't saved your asses". We were laughin'. Damn we were laughin' so hard I could barely drive. You know how when you scare the shit out of yourself and it's just funny as hell and all you can do is laugh. Like when you jump down off a pannel and run across a bull pin and have a close call with a 2 thousand pound monster bull. Or get a crazy coonass like Conrad worked up and mad enough to eat you.
That Cadillac floated us down the road like a crew of rouge clown pirates sailing for a black horizon at midnight. I finally catch my breath and Sass and i start figuring on what kinda trouble we'll get into next. Sass has a friend Paulie who lives in the country still in St. Tammany Parish and has a little Fais do-do on wednesday nights. We agree and head for Paulie's. The main ingredients of a Fais do-do are extra fine corn liquor and assorted other home brews, stringed instruments, a tin shack, and something to cook slow over an open fire and fuss about. And of course a big jambalaya.
It's about a 30 minute ride out to Paulie's place in Bonfouca from where we were at on the east side of Slidell. The stars were like lights at a carnival and the moon shined down like a spot light on a microphone stand with a hat on it. We had the radio on and were singing along with Toni Braxton "Just another sad love song racking my brain like crazy" windows down rolling along Bayou Liberty Rd. singin' our heads off, "and it's all because of yooouooo". There's lots of little R&B stations down through there playing cool old songs all night every night. About the time we ought to be getting pretty close, Sass has me slowed down to about 15 miles an hour looking for a mail box nailed to the side of a hickory tree where Paulie's driveway is.
We find it there on the right and dive off down in the dark tunnel of a dirt road, spanish moss dripping off trees, the dank sweet smell of bayou water wafting in the air. It's more like being inside than it is outside. There's so much texture, smell, sound, shadow and light that it feels like your inside something, a vast ancient cavern, a dream, a movie set, an amusement park ride. We drive and drive the surrounding scenery all but climbing in the car with us.
Finally a clearing appears, lights, the sound of voices and laughter and music, men standing around in overhauls, bulldogs wrestling and growling, women decked out in party cloths, and the smell of Boudin sausage cooking on a fire. We park over by an Orange Monte Carlo and step out onto the ground where this glorious Fais do-do is in full swing. Sass leads us through the crowd and spots Paulie standing over a 50 gallon drum grill with his back turned toward us and she hollers out "howdy cousin!" He straightens up and tilts an ear in quary "Who dat!" Sass lights up like a bulb and crouches down where Paulie can't see her and replys "It's me baby!" Paulie spins around looking this way and that then sees Sass and explodes "Yeah You Right!" "You get yo sef over heah and give ol' Paulie a kiss girl". They greet each other with such exuberance Paulie knocks his hat off and Sass throws her purse on the ground.
Man I'm tellin' you we were right in the middle of it. In the zone like a slide trombone. Paulie sets Sass back down on her feet looks at everybody and says "Laissez Le Bon temp rouler!" Everybody raised glasses and whooped and hollered "AAAYYYEEE"!
Sass introduced us around a little. i knew a couple of folks and was glad to see them and they me. The whole thing was exquisite. I was completely swept up. Paulie calls me over, "Hey Boure", 'mon over her a sec' I got somethin' fo' ya". I walk on over and Paulie asks me "Say now Boure', you like to carry on or what". I'm like "Sho do". He reaches in the back pocket of his overhauls and pulls out a pint bottle of shine, holds it up and puts a flash light to it. It's clear as air and has swirls of vapors whirling 'round in the middle of it, suspended like an invisible universe waiting to be discovered.
Paulie offers me the bottle, I twist the cap off, smell it and hold in the breath, look at it again and carefully put the mouth of the bottle to my lips raise the bottom up a little and let just a skosh of liquor get past my lips. Just a nip. It's clean. I lick my lips and swallow. I look at Paulie nod my head in approval and put the bottle to my lips again. This time I take a pretty good pull off of it, twist the cap back on and return the pint of shine to it's creator.
Paulie was fussin' over the Boudin and they were getting there and he had that pint of shine in his back pocket. I knew where I was gonna be for the next hour or two. When a man's grillin' he's gotta have another man to refer to when the meat needs to be tested. So I thought it best that i stick around and give Paulie a hand with the sausage and shine.
I followed his lead and reached down into a big paper sac and grabbed a hand full of Schley Pecans. We stood there crackin' pecans and talking. You take two pecans in one hand and squeeze them together breaking one against the other. Then you pick the shell and hull paper off and eat the meat of the nut. It's a very specific and singular activity. When you stand there crackin' pecans more often than not the subject matter turns serious. It takes dexterity and casual concentration to do it with proper style. You gotta be sho' 'nuff talkin' about somethin', like your life might depend on it but you don't really give too big a damn about it.
We were talking about the state of modern music and team penning. Paulie said "Yeah if it's got some church in it". He accented the comment by cracking a peacn, "Then it's likely allright". I replied "the other day i was dragging a load of cow ponies". I threw some shell on the ground in a self effacing way, "and I got a Ronnie Millsap cd at the Flying J". Paulie explaines "Man, last spring I was riding this little green colt of mine at a team penning up by Lafayette" he cracked a pecan. We went on like this for a while. The sausage was smellin' like it wanted to get et, my stomach was growling, I was hungry as hell, and Paulie was givin' me grief for wanting to eat the Boudin before it was done, "ats like bustin' a nut 'fore you get a girl 'round the ben".
All of a sudden here comes Sass with a mandolin player, two guitar players, and a guy on banjo and she's singin' "Paulie's Cookin' Boudin Gather 'Round! Paulie's Cookin' Boudin Gather 'Round!" You know the tune of course. And I'm tellin' you they were fuckin' gettin' it to boy. 'Bout the time Sass is spinnin' a third verse everybody's come on over and Paulie's doin' a little jig and got his back to the grill. Sass is singin' "Paulie cut that rug up dance a jig!" Banjo player's wearing it out, Mandolin's pickin' a fight with it, and the tall skinny guitar player's just pitchin' a goddamned fit about it. I kinda ease on over to the grill and get busy with my knife a little. They's a couple of us standing there eatin' Boudin scorching the hell out of our mouths and burning our fingers on this sausage been cookin' for more than a damned hour.
Paulie spins a full circle with his jig and catches us fuckin' with his grill. "You sons-a-bitches better get off my goddamned grill RIGHT! NOW!" Sass and her boys turn it up another notch, "Paulie Get Dat Goddamned Boudin Off A Grill! Paulie Get Dat Goddamned Boudin Off A Grill!" They playin" so hard and fast working us all into a frenzy Paulie has to give in 'Allright then c'mon -n- gitch y'all somethin' to eat". There's some more to this one.
We end up everybody in a tin shack with a wood stove taking the shiver off the cool black night and play music and sing all night 'till the damned sun comes up. The jambalaya gets et in the hours 'fore the dawn, my buddie Rod gets blind drunk and tries to bed down in a chicken coup and Kenny wanders off some where and we don't see him for a few of days. I take Sass to the airport and she makes her early morning flight on time. It gets even more twisted and beautiful but that'll have to do for now.
I appreciate y'all, Boo Ray