There’s been a lot of talk lately around the heels of the Katrina anniversary about what’s saved New Orleans. Restaurants have saved New Orleans. Energetic young do-gooders from all around America have saved New Orleans. The Saints have saved New Orleans.
All of those things are great, to be sure, and have certainly helped the recovery, but they’re only a part of the story.
In any event, I definitely had a Saints-packed weekend. I went to the game on Friday night, where a drunk man in my section spent the entire evening howling, “We were the champions of the world! What happened?” every time the Saints messed up and “There are my world champs!” every time they did something well.
On Saturday afternoon, I attended a baby shower for my oldest friend where the mother-to-be wore a shirt that said “Who Dat In Training” with an arrow pointing at her belly and the father-to-be wore a matching shirt that said “Who Dad.” In other cities, people expecting baby boys get a lot of blue things; here, it was all black and gold.
Then later that night, I got all dressed up and went the American Cancer Society’s Hope Gala with some of my coworkers, and we danced to the Bucktown Allstars and screamed like idiots –– along with everyone else –– when they played “When the Saints Go Marching In” complete with a chorus of “Who Dats!”
And then to top it all off, on Sunday, the fifth anniversary of Katrina, I went to a Super Bowl party. To commemorate the anniversary, as well as celebrate the sale of his wine shop, Cork & Bottle, Jon Smith hosted a screening of both the NFC game and the Super Bowl.
Midway through the game, I walked outside with some friends, and there was a huge rainbow arcing across the sky. After a few drinks, this seemed hugely significant. The Katrina anniversary. The Super Bowl. A rainbow. We were standing in the parking lot, mouths agape, dreamy-eyed, a bunch of sentimental fools.
Right then, Ian McNulty, who is one of the first friends I made when I moved back home, rode by on his bike and yelled, “Jeez, you weenies, it’s only a rainbow!”
And we all absolutely fell to pieces laughing.
It’s impossible to take yourself too seriously here, and really, I think that’s what saved New Orleans. Every part of my weekend was a piece of what makes us special: our characters, our rituals, our enduring friendships, our music, our dancing, our hometown pride, our willingness to look silly, our humor, our laughter, our sentimentality, our ability to laugh at ourselves.
In short, New Orleans saved New Orleans. And thank God, really. Thank God.