In your recent perambulations through the CBD and the French Quarter, you may have noticed that our fair city is teeming with visitors. You may not, however, have noticed that many of these visitors come in two very distinct flavors.
Here at Haute Plates Cooperage and Diesel Engine Lubricants LLC, our purpose is to educate you, Dear Readers, on all things. In this instance our purpose is to advise you on how to distinguish between the members of the Lutheran Church Synod of Missouri Youth Gathering and participants in Tales of the Cocktail.
This can be a complicated matter, and we cannot blame you for failing, without our advice, to recognize the fine distinctions between the two groups. We believe the best way to achieve our goal is by way of a series of questions. Hence:
Q: Does the visitor have tattoos? On their face/head?
A: Yes – You have likely encountered a participant in Tales of the Cocktail. Do not be alarmed. Participants in Tales of the Cocktail are largely harmless, and while their appearance may startle you, they are not aggressive.
A: No – You have encountered someone else. Your level of alarm is dependent upon many factors, too many to detail in this space.
Q: Does the visitor travel in packs of 20-30, all wearing the same T-shirt?
A: Yes – You have encountered members of the Lutheran Church of Missouri Synod Gathering. Do not be alarmed, unless you are trying to shop at the Rouses in the CBD between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m., are driving in the CBD between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. or are generally frightened of white people aged 11 to 14.
A: No – You have encountered someone else.
Q: Does the visitor appear intoxicated?
A: Yes – You may have encountered a participant in Tales of the Cocktail. You may also have encountered a visitor from England, of whom there are many in town at the moment, or a visitor from elsewhere, or a local.
A: No – You have possibly encountered a member of the LCMS Gathering, though you may also have encountered a visitor from elsewhere, including England, or a local. You have almost certainly not encountered a participant in Tales of the Cocktail. Note that this question is not time-dependent.
Q: Does the visitor wear a peculiar hat?
A: Yes – Could be either.
A: No – Probably a local or a visitor from England, etc.
Q: Did the visitor try to proselytize to you?
A: Yes – …
Q: What did they try to proselytize to you about?
A: How salvation is to be achieved by faith and devotion to scripture alone – Probably a Lutheran.
A: The virtues of an obscure tincture or how much better house-made tonic is than Schweppes – Tales O’ the Cocktail.
A: “A Prairie Home Companion,” and how they fear that without Garrison Keillor, things will never be the same – This is probably a Lutheran, though it is also possible that you have encountered a participant in Tales of the Cocktail who is devoted to National Public Radio in all its forms. To know for sure, refer to the earlier questions: For example, is the visitor a tattooed intoxicated person wearing an interesting chapeau? If so, you're dealing with a participant in Tales or a chaperone for the LCMS Gathering gone to seed.
Both sets of visitors are friendly and non-threatening, with some limited exceptions for Tales participants who have been dramatically over-served and the aforementioned chaperones gone to seed.
Tales visitors tend to have more piercings, and the Lutheran Youth tend to wear shorts.
To paraphrase (slightly) from the LCMS Gathering website, the Gathering:
… has been held every three years since 1980 and provides thousands of youth and adults the opportunity to come together as a community of God's people to learn more about Jesus Christ, the Christian faith and their Lutheran identity.
During the five days of the Gathering, youth spend time together in God’s word, worship, service, and fellowship with others from across the synod.
Tales of the Cocktail, on the other hand, is held every year and provides thousands of adults the opportunity to come together as a community of aficionados of spirited drinks and learn more about said spirited drinks, as well as techniques, history and lore surrounding same. That, and to more or less tie one on for five or so days and nights in New Orleans. That's not even remotely paraphrasing from the official Tales of the Cocktail website, but I think it's a fair cop.
On a slightly less ridiculous note: How lucky are we that in these dog days of summer there are thousands and thousands of people here, filling our hotel rooms and patronizing, respectively, our T-shirt shops and bars/restaurants? At the risk of over-paraphrasing, a famous man once said something along the lines of, "New Orleans, WHAT A COUNTRY!"