Shedding The Shell, Part 1,2,&3 of X
Part 1-Shedding the Shell: It had been an extraordinary Spring in New Orleans as to weather. In general, the skies had been clear, and the temperatures during the day in the low 80s. Emily had pulled out her assortment of sun dresses to replace her sweaters and sweats. Her wardrobe was now trimmed well above the knees and hung loosely and provocatively from her sholulders. This was her favorite time of the year in that she felt the most sensuous given that she dressed in the most casual way without undergarments. While she was not striking in a glamorous sort of way, she was quite so in a fashion not normally associated with seductive women by male chauvinists. She had been a swimmer competing in high school and through college which explained her trim but muscular, broad shoulder physique. This alone was somewhat intimidating for the males she associated with socially. But it was her mental presence of total independence and confidence that seemed to be too difficult to deal with for many guys she met. As such, she was still quite uninitated as to truly appreciating her sexual being with men. It would take an extraordinary male to move beyond typical female misperceptions to fully appreciate the physical and mental beauty of this young woman.
Graduating with a degree in Architecture from Tulane in New Oreleans after 5 years of study, she was on her own to find her way in the world. She did't have very close relationships with either males or females having focused on her education those years. The entertainment draw of New Orleans had not attracted her prior to graduation. Her parents had supported her through her college years, but they knew little of who their daughter truly was. Not that they were not loving parents, but they were the stereotyped, conservative types from Vermont that honored her independence without serious interference, as they would see it. Unknown to them was that In her most private, intraspective moments, she resented this lack of involvement on their part by not providing the embracing love that she so desired. The result was that she ignored this most important requirement while under their direct involvement. Graduation bought an end to that mindset.
Moving from her residence on campus after graduation, she took an apartment in Mid-City bordering the French Qtr on the way to Lake Pontchartrain. Her parents offered to support her living expenses for a time as she sought a job. What they didn't know is that she had no short term objective of seeking employment at that point. Rather, Emily decided instead to explore New Oreleans initially and then onto travel in Europe for a humber of months.
Her first night on her own in New Orleans to liberate herself from her ridgit college regiment would be to go to Tipitinas on Topachuates that she heard about from a number of her classmates during labs. This particular evening was a sweltering one. This was a night when couples would dance with total exhariation followed by exhaustion with the sweat of their bodies together delivering total abandomennt to their sexuality. While on her own, her unguarded consumption of wine resulted in her dancing to the Cajun music on the floor by herself. She was totally loose in her movements and just barely aware of herself at that point. (NOTE: Such freedom of individulism is universally acceptable across New Orleans.). She was determined in shedding her conservative shell that evening that she had maintained and protected throughout college.
Beau, the lead of the band on stage, could not help but notice Emily on the dance floor near the far bar. He signaled his band that he would be back shortly and left the stage to ask this radiant, freeflowing beauty to dance as the band continued without him. She accepted his invitation without resistance at this point, and he held her closely when swinging her around as the music demanded. She at first thought she was out of control, but Beau would wisper in her ear when he would swing her out and back as 'to hold tightly onto his hand.' This was her first time in letting a man to be in control of her physically, as innocent as it was. So as to return to the band, he left her on the floor after the first dance requesting that she wait for the band's break in 10 minutes, at which point he would catch up with her on the balcony. She responded automatically, "Of course my Shining Knight!" He glared at her for a moment given that response and returned to the stage.
At break, he left the stage and joined her overlooking the first floor. He started, "Thank you for the dance. My name is Beau." "Emmmilllly" she responded with slurring. "Are you seeking a shining knight, Cher?" he asked with a whimiscal smile. Her wine consumption was kicking in some more. "Welllllll!, now that I think about it, maybe I am. Hmmmm, a Freudian slip on my part I guess." With that she pulled her long auburn hair back over her right side exposing her tight facical features and casually propering her head up with her right hand on the rail. This was a classic Katherine Hepburn move that she recalled from the movie Pat and Mike with Spencer Tracy as the male lead. She adored the persona of the actress, and she would attempt during social gatherings to present herself as she thought Ms. Hepburn would do. Afterall, she thought, "Am I not much like that woman - independent, athletic, and quick witted?" For Beau her move was a bit fatuous, but it was clear to him that wine now had the best of her. Fortunaterly, Beau was not one to take inappropriate advantage of this, but rather to 'roll" with it. He perceived that this was a serious woman to deal with properly. So, he took her right arm gently, and asked that she join him at a vacant table in the far corner of the balcony to escape the crowd. She nodded.
Once at the table, he told the waitress nearby to bring a Wild Turkey on the rocks for himself and a club soda with ice for the lady. Emily suddenly became indignant "YOU ordered me a clubbbbb soda?" He grabbed both of her hands with his. " Yes, Cher! You are beyond you right now, and I am your Angel tonight to get you home safely." Even more Indignantly she started "REALLY!, that is your job, ANGEL Beau? What makes you my Angel?" He let go of her hands and sat back on his chair and then stated forcefully, but in a compassionate way. "Emily, again, you are beyond yourself right now, ..... and I already know that I want to know more about you ... and you about me. But, NOT tonight Cher. I have already told staff to call Tip's special yellow cab minutes from now, and you will be home soon". With this, she shumped down slighly in her chair, and he caught her to keep her from falling to the floor. After swallowing his Turkey, he slipped his business card into her purse and guided her down the steps to the main entrance. The trusted cab had arrived. "Cher, where do you live?" She had come about enough to provide her residence in Mid-City. Beau turned to the driver "Juan, make sure she gets inside the front door." as he slipped him $20. Juan knew the routine, "Yes Sir! Boss." and off they went. With her departure, Beau returned to the stage for 2 more sets finishing at 2AM. Emily was on his mind, but he trusted that Juan would ensure her safety withn her home. He had done the same before for other single women who had gone beyond themselves at Tips. But, there was something special about this woman that he perceived that he wanted to know more of. But, maybe he was wrong, He had been wrong before.
The next day Emily awoke in her apartment on her couch still dressed from the night before. Attempting to recall her visit to Tips the night before, she was somehat confused as to what had actually taken place in her first time there. There was this guy Beau that she had danced with, but the rest was quite cloudy ... and how did she got home? She really was a babe-in -the-woods as to such experiences, and she was suddenly scared as to what may have happened. BUT, she was home and by herself. Whatever, she had not made any horrible mistakes, apparently, on her first excursion into New Orleans night life. She showered and dressed casaully in one or her favoirite summer dresses and headed for Cafe Degas for a croissant avec jambon & fromage (her favorite) and a double shot of expresso. To pay for her service, she reached into her purse and noticed the card that Beau had left the night before. She stared at the card. "WTF", she said aloud to the cashier as she presented her payment and headed for the outdoor seating. Once there, with the caffeine kicking in from the expresso, she pulled out her ever-present notepad and in caps she printed "MY LIST" at the top. The following hour of consuming her breakfast and an adfditional expresso would be her first time of focusing on and listing her desires and expectations as a "freed woman" going forward.
Part 2-The List: The concept of creating a list of what she wanted in a relationship came about when watching the TV show Family Fued that she did occasionally during her final-finals. During those two weeks she kept to her room to study, but desired a simplistic break ever so often. In one show the result of a poll was presented to the contestants. 'What does a woman most desire of a man in a serious relationship?' Now starting her own list, she recalled that show noting that of the top responses listed by the show No. 1 was a sense of humor followed by some order of physical characteristics such as body, hair, muscles, etc. - all of which were not that important to her. Such a difference alarmed her at first, but she then rationalized that she was actually quite an individual that most men would not appreciate due to what she assumed to be their chauvinistic expectations of women. But then again, she had yet to have that first serious awakening as to her sexuality with men. So on her second expresso she got into creating her list. At No. 1 was loving (embracing) given her parenting, followed by intelligence, creativity, empathy, selflesness, charitable, athletic, travel, and finally fine cuisine. When finished, she emailed the word document she created to herself to have it available wherever she was with her Iphone. That list would change somewhat in the very near future.
Finishing her brunch, she was off to Tulane's library. But, for the first time this visit was not for scholastic purposes. Being one very disciplined in research, she wanted to explore more about the Cajun culture which was sparked by the music at Tips the previous night. Given her discipline, she was specifically interested in Acadian architecture as introduced to Louisiana by the French Canadian immigrants that settled there in the 18th century having been driven out of what is now Nova Scotia. On her way to the library she noticed a fraternity ahead of her that was having a crawfish boil in full festive mode including a Cajun band. As she approached the house she recognized the same song as the night before and caught herself involuntarily doing a quick swing and turn on the sidewalk. She continued, but before the end of the block she felt an arm around her waist stopping her. "Your Shining Knight is here Cher." as Beau turned her to face him. At first she gasped at the unexpected capture. However, she immediately tuned into Beau's voice and even the scent of his cologne as the night before. "Hi!" she said in a startled way. Smiling, she continued; "2+2 suggests that is your band, and in fact that last song, was to which you swirled me around at Tips last night." "Yes Cher" She continued, "And indeed, you are my Shining Knight in ensuring that I got home safely last nighi?." "Yes again Cher." She blushed somewhat as she squeezed his right hand, "Thank you so much. eehhhh Beau, right? When I thought about last night at brunch today, I did not Know how I would contact you to express my deepest appreciation. And, here you are!." with her blush transitioning to a broad smile. "Soooooooooooooo!, thank you Sir Beau." He nodded as bowing to a Queen. "Cher, can you stay for the music and crawfish? You are very welcome to do so." "Not now Beau. I am on a mission today ... which actually is the result of last night's music - YOUR fault. All of the time I have spent here in NOLA as a student, I really never made the effort to get into the City's nightlife in general, and even Cajun cuilture specifically. I am on my way to do some research regarding Cajuns." With a broad smile, Beau took her right hand and said so charmingly. "May I suggest my personal graduate course on Cajun cuisine by having dinner with my crowd tonight." She didn't respond at first as Beau explained that his real job was that as a owner/chef in a Cajun restaurant across the river in the Left Bank. Before she could respond, he said clearly and directly into her eyes. "Juan, your driver last night, will pick you up at 7 where he dropped you off and bring you to my restaurant. You have no choice Emily", purposely emphasizing her name. "I would pick you up personally, but I have a great deal of cooking to do tonight to prepare my speciality, Nurtria a la Provencale. With that, he gave her an 'la bise', first left cheek and then right, and headed back to the band not waiting for a response.
Once at the Library, she took her favorite corner table on the third floor that overlooked the campus as well as the mansions of celebrities and politician on the guarded, private street just beyond campus. She had heard the word nutria before, but knew nothing about this creature. With cuisine being one of the items on her 'list' she did some research on this critter. Her first reaction, and said out loud, "GOOD LORD, its a rat." "Shhhhhhhhhh!" she heard from another corner of the library. She continued with her reading to find that the nutria is a vegetarain with the meat high in protein and low in fat. They had been originally raised on 'fur farms' before escaping in the 1930s to invade parts of North America including Louisiana and California. Also, they are considered to be docile pets. With further research, she found information of the dish Nutria a la Provencale that has been praised by well-known chefs such as Susan Slicer. Emily needed to know no more reflecting on Tobi Keith's lyrics 'I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then'. Lastly, she found a copy of a cookbook for Cajun cuisine, including nutria. Her first thought was about dinner that night given Chad's mention of the special he would be serving, Could she make it through dinner without gagging?
Part 3-The REVISED List
NOTE: New Orleans is known for both Cajun and Creole cuisine. In general, Creole people are of mixed races, whereas Cajuns are descended from the French Canadians that arrived there as noted Part 2. As to cuisine, creole cooking is more related to tomato-based recipes and rouxs (check my posting During and/or After) and Cajun to spicey flavors. Either way, the food is extraordinary in its true form. My favorite cookbook for NOLA recipes is The New Orleans Cookbook by Collins
Once at the restaurant, Juan opened her car door and said "I need only 15 minutes notice as to when you want to return to your place." She reached into her purse to pay him. "Miss Emily, Beau is your host tonight, all inclusive." He paused and then added; "I wish to note that I have known Beau for quite a while, and he is as legimate as he appears. You WILL enjoy this evening." With that she entered the restaurant not sure as to what she needed to do. She was greeted first by the young hostess in Cajun French followed immediately by English given Emily's lack of response. Emily stated her name and that she was a guest of Beau. "Cher, welcome to our restuarant. I will take you to your table, and tell Beau of your arrival." She led Emily to the far corner of the restaurant that was open to the deck. The live music playing was a Cajun Waltz whith a number of couples on the dance floor in front of the band. This was not a style of dance with which she was familiar, but extraordinarily sensual in her mind. Within minutes a waitress was at her table with a flute of sparkling wine and a plate of chocolate coated strawberries which were at their prime in Loisiana. "Cher, Beau knows that you are here, and he will be out shorly to greet you. He has chosen your entree for the evening. But here is a list of our appetizers to get you started. I will be back in several minute. Emily immediately thought about the possibility of being presented with RAT to consume. That simply wasn't possible for her regardless of the positive notes she had read early that day on the consumption of nutria.
When the waitress returned, Emily ordered the fried soft-shell crab. She had heard of this delicacy in her years in NOLA but had yet to order it when in season. She had attended several of the infamous, annual Jazz Festivals but had never ordred the soft-shell crab po-boys at the kiosk that always had a long line. Once presented with the crab, Emily asked the waitress how to eat it? "Cher, it's all edible. Enjoy!" And she did, immediately appreciating the crisp texture and subtle crab taste. It was indeed extraordinary.
As Emily was picking up the remaining morsels of her crab, Beau came from behind her. "Good evening Cher. Thank you for coming tonight This is my natural environment where I do my craft. I hope you will enjoy this evening given your intended research you mentioned earily this afternoon as to the Cajun culture being unknown to you. AND, it is my firm belief that the first introcuction to any culture should be its food. So! tonight you will have one of my cajun specialities.." She intertupted him before he could go on. "Beau, I must tell you that I don't believe I am capable of stomaching Nutria as you mentioned earlier today. I am SO sorry." "Cher, I had expected that, and tonight you will have Cochon de Lait which is slowly roasted young pig, with mashed yams, and collard greens." There was an audible sigh from her as she sat back in her chair at first and then stood and kissed Beau on the left cheek. He then took both of her arms, twirled her around and sat her back in her chair. "i like the way you respond ... Again, I must leave you alone for some time so as to serve my clients. He bent and kissed her on her cheek again and headed to the kitchen.
Beau was perhaps several years older than her, but with his rugged, very tan body it was hard for her to guess his age. His brown hair was short and tightly curled and of a luxiourous gloss. As tall as he was, he was not lanky in motion but with the grace and swiftness of a gymnast. It was his self-assurred, but humble, presence that really drew her to him. She was now retinking her list of desires in a man that she had first created that afternoon,
He returned as she had just finished her meal and the carafe of rose that Beau had delivered to her table. Again, he bent over and kissed her left cheek and then sat down opposite of her. "Emily, you have now had your first graduate lesson on Cajun cuisine. "Yummmmm" she interrupted wiping her lips with a linen napkin to remove the gravy. "Again, I must leave you given my duties, but I have ordered a sambuca for your aperitif this evening with Juan waiting outside when you are ready to go home." With that he took her right hand and kissed it lightly as he placed his business card on the table. "I hope you will accept my call in several days to pursue your futher education of the Cajun culture ... and perhaps one Cajun in particular."
Emily was a bit surprised as to the brevity of her interaction with Beau that evening, But she understood his motivation and responsibilies as to his restaurant. Sipping the sambuca, she pulled out her writing pad from earlier that day and made changes in her listl. She left a $10 tip on the table because she knew that was the right thing to do. She exited the restaurant, saw Juan's yellow cab, and got into the back seat. "YES" she shouted upon entering the cab, and then asked Juan to take her home. Juan smiled to himself. He had seen the magic in her as to Beau's desires. Juan once again escorted her into her front door, and then left a text message for Beau that she was home safely.