In New Orleans I couldn’t sleep, so I wandered down Bourbon Street, where goateed and paunchy tourists sipped daiquiris from hand grenade-shaped colored cups. A dominatrix-looking waif waved at me. I waved back. She waved me over. Two seconds later I was perched on a bar stool at Temptations. The bartender—tanned, muscled, shiny—was Southern friendly.
“I’m Bob,” he said. “What can I get you?”
“I’m Frank,” I replied. “I’d like a Heineken.”
A billow of bad perfume disguised as a large-breasted dancer approached. “Hi, I’m Melissa,” she said, offering her hand.
“Where you from, Frankie?” she asked, taking the seat next to me. She wore pink lace panties and pink pumps and a white wife-beater. I was reminded of the Good & Plentys I used to love as a kid.
“What brings you to New Orluns?”
“I’m with a friend, but he’s back at the hotel.”
She moved in close and placed her hand on my leg. “So what do you do, Frankie?”
I took a long pull from my beer. “I run a pool cleaning business out there in the San Fernando Valley.”
She skimmed her fingers over my wrist. “You married, Frankie?”
“Where’s your ring?”
“We don’t wear rings.”
She softened. “I have a three-year-old daughter,” she said, smiling. “How old are your boys?”
“Five and seven.”
“That’s such a fun age! What are their names?”
I looked off toward the stage. Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar On Me” blared. A row of Japanese businessmen fingered dollar bills. A topless blonde swallowed a man’s head with her breasts.
“Trace and Chad,” I said, trying to repress my smile.
“Aw, Frankie! Look at you! You’re such a proud daddy!”
I took her hand. “Trace is the oldest, a real terror. Katey and I made him a deal. You bring home a decent report card, and we’ll get you that skateboard you’ve been askin’ for…”