In Which I Still Seethe

I am still seething and I cannot sleep, so I will post a question to New Orleans people and then I will sleep.

Situation: I take a new friend — friend of a better friend — with me to my usual place in N.O., to go to a certain parade.

She — Whiteman One in an earlier post — extracts from her suitcase an amazing amount of drink paraphernalia, including a whole blender, and puts it in the kitchen where the hosts normally cook their dinner and our breakfast. I think, ahem, are we really supposed to drink all of that here? but mostly I think ahem, ahem, she has taken up a very great deal of counter space, and what she apparently plans to do will make a fair amount of noise rather near someone else’s bedroom.

The evening was fun and you have to realize Mardi Gras is a drinking atmosphere, so I did not really notice anything odd except how strangely tired I was by the time Whiteman One left. It was as though I had been run over by an emotional train and I could not think what had happened to drain me so.

Fast forward to now, when I realize Whiteman One is an alcoholic and that it was that atmosphere which had created the chaotic atmosphere and left the drained feeling.

So I am trying to get a reality check from Whiteman Two and this scene from the past came up as a chance I had had, and missed, to interpret certain signs.

Whiteman Two alleges that it is normal to bring that much paraphernalia to a house in New Orleans. I counter, to a known house, a house known to be a party house, but not to hosts you’re not close to — it is rude to take over space like that in any case, and disconcerting to show that you have paraphernalia to create mayhem.

Whiteman Two says that it was fine, because surely Whiteman One was planning to make drinks for everyone. I counter that this house is not party central and I had never indicated that it was, and that it was in any case a Muslim household. They’re fine with you uncorking a bottle of wine on the porch, but they are not interested in drinking your Margaritas.

Whiteman Two says I was out of line for not having warned Whiteman One that it was a Muslim household and that she should not bring all those drinks.

So, New Orleans people, after all these years, is there something I don’t know? Is it not poor behavior to expect to turn the kitchen of a respectable B&B into Party Central? Should I have known Whiteman One would expect to do this — because in New Orleans it is normal to do this?

I, as you can tell, think it is presumptuous. My mother said you were supposed to respect other peoples’ houses and be circumspect in them, and Cristina says a Latin home is a place of respect, and if you engage in mayhem you should at least not do it at home. I am Latin and I agree with my mother and Cristina, and I lived in New Orleans for many years and I know there are some circumstances where it is normal, even appreciated, to bring a blender and a lot of drinking paraphernalia to someone else’s house. I do not think this was one such.

What burns me is the disregard for my main point and the manipulation on a minor one: Oh, the problem is that they are Muslims, so the problem is me — I should have warned Whiteman One that it was a Muslim household. It does not matter that I thought her behavior and apparent plan was not entirely kosher, not entirely Catholic (as we say, from religion to religion, of things that are not quite right, not entirely correct).

Now I believe I have finally said enough. I will rebel and resist by turning to more fruitful matters. What did I learn: do not be pushed. What am I grateful for: that my other guest was also scandalized by the events of today and yesterday. I could have been alone when these things happened, in which case I could have been convinced I should be more “tolerant.”


9 thoughts on “In Which I Still Seethe

  1. And — related somehow —

    In Reeducation they kept saying you should give up “control,” stop making decisions, stop steering a course, let events decide things for you and let anyone do anything to you …

    And in the meantime you should imagine you could take control of the external world through wishful thinking.

    It was absolutely maddening. I am in a rage because I have had to hear again all of these oppressive messages. !!!

  2. And also — from comments related in this story it appears that Whiteman Two is from a 100% alcoholic atmosphere — that for her is the default. She appears to think that there are only certain zones that aren’t mayhem zones, and that you have to warn people about these. She covers that by saying “that just how all New Orleans is.” Yes it is full of alcohol abusers but that does not mean you are never expected to act right. !!!

  3. I’ve had people do the same at my house (not in N.O.), been equally disconcerted, and been equally made into the problem. For people for whom drinking – to the extent you describe – is culturally normative anything less is abnormal. Interrogating their own behavior, or the behavior of their friends, would require interrogating an entire social atmosphere in which they likely grew up and continue to replicate. Since social drinking covers a wide range of behaviors from a few drinks to partying to functional alcoholism it is hard to convince people who have crossed the line that you are not sanctioning them for something that is socially acceptable.

    What I’ve learned to do is simply make it clear to people what I consider social drinking or partying atmosphere and what I think is excessive and that I expect them to share these definitions within anyone they bring into my home. It doesn’t mean that I have a dry house or that people can’t get stumble down and stupid with the amount of alcohol available at any party there but it does mean no one brings blender and most know that vomiting under a cushion seat in the couch will not be forgiven with “I was so drunk last night.”

  4. Interesting Susurro and gracias.

    It’s odd, I’ve never had to be explicit about rules in my house that way — mayhem just doesn’t happen. Nobody has ever done anything extreme enough to piss me off. I’ve had major alcoholics over and they haven’t done this kind of frat boy thing.

    But I didn’t know people would bring blenders and so on to a BED AND BREAKFAST and take over THAT kitchen as though it were the kitchen of old alkie friends. I’ve never had anyone make that kind of assumption … and I did not know at the time that Whiteman Two was that kind of a drinker.

    I didn’t say “don’t bring your blender” because I had no idea she would, and I had never met anyone before who would have thought of taking over the kitchen of an unknown B&B with their drinking paraphernalia.

    If I have to say “don’t bring your blender” then it’s someone I don’t want to deal with in the first place, is my point of view.

  5. All that stuff about going with the flow and not being a killjoy. Right. Like Facebook. What a mess that is! I like my blog, where I have 100% control.

    The woman sounds like a complete bad apple. And the whole atmosphere down there sounds surreal to me, like you’re not supposed to think.

  6. Facebook encourages enmeshment.

    That woman *is* a complete bad apple, although the people we know in common do not believe this (they say “nobody is perfect,” which is entirely beside the point).

    General atmosphere, yes. Although it really isn’t everyone. Black people aren’t as unrealistic, for instance, and they are a large portion of the population. The surreal atmosphere can be avoided but that takes work — whereas everywhere else I’ve lived, including New Orleans, these situations never even come up because people are better brought up or something. It’s Baton Rouge, Maringouin, and I think Acadiana and St. Tammany / Tangipahoa too. I don’t know about points north (it’s more like Arkansas / MS there, so it’s less hard drinking, but it could be as religious and enmeshed, all of which amounts to about the same set of things).

  7. I’ve never seen anybody do this sort of thing, invading kitchens with blenders. The alcoholics I knew in Louisiana (my family mostly) would get drunk just on beer. In fact, I don’t know how they drank as many beers as they did in one go. I would pop if I tried that. Beyond just the being drunk aspect, I literally could not hold that much.

    But, similar to what happened here, when I did realize that consuming six, eight, ten beers in a day was actually an issue, that there was a problem with that, and when I tried to insist on not riding in cars with people who had done so, I was the problem and I just needed to chill out. Yeah.

    We are so conflict averse that saying to someone, “Come on, seriously, that’s obnoxious, don’t do that,” is this huge problem. It shouldn’t be: I would want to know if I was doing something obnoxious (I think, I hope). But it’s so hard to say this to other people, and the results are rarely good.

  8. I read that BB part of your post and yet somehow refused to process it. I’ve never witnessed anyone act that way at a BB and I like to stay at them at the end of most of my travels just b/c I’m beat and want the first meal to be easy.

    I’m having a hard time understanding how anyone would think that was normal or excuse it away . . . but like most of these comments illustrate, “normal” really is about a person’s frame of reference.

  9. Human – GRACIAS! See, it is not everywhere in Louisiana that people show up with blenders. Yes, for a large Mardi Gras party of family and friends familiar with each other, among a certain type of (usually white) New Orleans area person, you’ll find people bringing over all kinds of equipment. They are expecting a WHOLE lot of people over a LONG period of time, a whole day or more, and these things can be useful in those circumstances.

    Bringing this blender was more of an addict behavior. I have a friend who is an espresso addict and she travels with a little espresso pot in case espresso is ever unavailable. This blender seemed more like that kind of a thing — she wanted to make sure she would be able to have a Margarita if necessary.

    I guess one of my weird characteristics is not being afraid of conflict. I mean, I don’t like it but I’ll do it. What I am outright averse to is passive aggressiveness.

    I saw people in Peru recently do that, re driving, to a college age child. She didn’t want to get in the car with her totally smashed uncle and they said don’t cause trouble. It’s true that this guy is such a good driver that he, massively drunk, is a safer bet than many other people, sober. But still, it’s the messing – with – the – head that is so irksome here.

    People think you shouldn’t confront or explain your because “it might damage the relationship” and you must at all costs maintain THAT. I never understood this attitude – never understood why one should want to conserve a bad or destructive relationship, never understood what it was that people concerned about “damaging the relationship” were afraid to lose.

    But — since I’m trying to get over the effects of family alcoholism it is almost as though I walk into these situations sometimes so that certain feelings will be brought up and I can examine and exorcise them, or something like that. And it’s not the drunks who are so bad, it’s their codependents and enablers.

    Susurro — yes. This was embarrassing since it’s the B&B I always go to & like but at least that means I have enough complicity with the manager to have been able to shoot him a look when the blender appeared, meaning that I would prevent the thing from being used.

    Normal, yes, it really is a person’s frame of reference. Now, THESE whitemen say that whatever happens, is what you imagine to have happened, not what really happened, because reality is inaccessible (they are New Agers), everything is in the mind (although they do like material objects). It strikes me that it’s just like what my parents said about abuse — you call them on it, and they say it didn’t happen, you “dreamed it” or “imagined it” or “made it up” maliciously.

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