Saturday, February 9, 2013

Day 47. New Orleans Love

Back in the early 90's--geez, I can never get away from givin' the age away--not too long out of college, I had a job as a technical editor at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) in the Software Tools Group (STG) at the University of Illinois.  I wrote all the documentation manuals for all our programmers as well as interviewed scientists nationwide for our national publication.  I helped create CDs for graphical images (this was actually something back in the day); acted as a film editor for promotional items; supervised other editors; traveled to NYC, Las Vegas, etc. for writing and computer conferences, blah, blah. (See how eloquent I am?  Ha!)

Now before you want to throw-up and say, OMG, please rescue me from this boring vitae of self-aggrandizement and braggadocious nonsense, you would throw me a tearful crumb and want me to tell you these things if you knew how far from early, promising career potential I have fallen.  Currently I am viewed as quite dispensible.

Now, I'll tell you why I'm looking back to a golden age. (-;  A nearby, small town is having their annual Mardi Gras parade and celebration tonight.  It started me thinking about New Orleans and one NCSA computer trip to the Big Easy during Jazz Fest.  I have all sorts of stories about that adventure, one of which had me standing alone on a dock.  Picture me on the left-hand side, here:

So, why I was alone there--originally coming with a group of about 20 people--I can no longer remember.  I think I was using a pay phone!  And then I hung up the phone, and there was a homeless-looking man suddenly beside me.  And when he turned towards me, rather he lunged toward me, a fat rat was on his shoulder.  He was trying to scare me, of course, and somehow, I acted like a cool, mint julep.

"Oh, that's so cool," I calmly say.

He doesn't believe me.  He lunges towards me again.

"Does he have a name?"  I continue my Steve McQueen impersonation.

"Ha, I know you're scared of it," he laughs.

"I say, no, I'm not.  My boyfriend has one," I lie.  But you have to lie when you're alone on a New Orleans dock with a strange man bouncing towards you with a rat on his shoulder.  Let the rodent sniff at his cheek, not mine!

And then, a funny thing happened.  He seemed to believe me.  And then we talked for awhile, and his blazing eyes--the man, not the rat--crinkled into a kindly squint, and the rat started to look more like a guinea pig. Um, with a long-ass rat tail wrapped around his owner's neck.

Somehow, I made an excuse and got out of there.  No matter how gentile it ended up being, a girl must take care of herself.  Ultimately, though, it just goes to show that in the presence of fear, sometimes a little conversation goes a long way.  AND, everyone likes to show off their pet. (-;

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