Etiquette & superstition: umbrellas

On our last night in New Orleans, Benny and I found ourselves in a bar in the Tremé neighborhood when someone thrust a parasol into my hand and strongly urged me to parade about with some other female patrons. I did the best I could, but I had no idea what I was doing and was scared the entire time that I was doing it wrong. Was I allowed to lower the umbrella, or bounce it up and down, or could I only twirl it? Could I pass it off to somebody else? Could I give it to a guy? Was I supposed to dance or just sort of strut around? I was immensely relieved when the whole thing was over. Our guide told me that I was taking all of this much too seriously.

ETIQUETTE: The underlying idea of most umbrella etiquette is that you should not be a space hog. If you’re carrying a full-sized umbrella and not using it to shield you from the elements, keep it close and parallel to your body. None of this “me ol’ bamboo” tucking it under your arm at a jaunty angle or twirling it or any such nonsense if you’re in a populated area.

When you are using your umbrella and another person with an umbrella approaches you, the taller person should raise their umbrella to pass. If both people are of similar height, the person with the larger umbrella should be the one to raise it.

SUPERSTITION: I don’t have to bring up the opening umbrellas inside thing, do I? No? Thank you. Let’s all agree that we know that one and move on.

Don’t put an umbrella on a table, on a bed, or give one as a gift. All unlucky, and as we’ve mentioned before, the umbrella gift will sever a relationship. If you drop your umbrella while you are walking, ask someone else to pick it up. If you pick it up yourself, you will soon find yourself in an argument. The fact that you have dropped your umbrella either means that you will soon meet a friend or you will soon lose your faculties.


End of the line

Today was the last day of our vacation and we ended it much like we started – close to one end of the Mississippi River, bothering fiberglas fabricators.

I swear to you that we did not spend our entire last day in New Orleans milling about a warehouse, however. We also saw an alligator balance a marshmallow on his head.

Look closely (or click on the above for a larger view). This was one talented gator.



Old time relijun

We’ve made our way to New Orleans. Primary stops today were the St. Roch Cemetery and the Voodoo Museum.

St. Roch has an area where people pray for healing of hearts and feet and eyes

and such,

show proof of past healings by offering braces and casts that are no longer needed,

and give thanks for the healing.



Pretty straightforward. I didn’t believe it, but it seemed innocuous enough. Throw a battery in the vestibule and maybe you won’t have to recharge your phone as much. Maybe, maybe not. Whatever.

A strange thing happened when I got to the Voodoo Museum, however.

I had a couple of dimes in my hand, ready to toss them someplace as an offering, when I got nervous.

Despite the helpful placards, I realized that I had no idea what any of this stuff really meant.

I knew there were some pretty bad spirits, and I had no idea who was who around here. Furthermore, I heard that the spirits weren’t too keen on penny offerings, so who was to say if a dime was going to be a good thing or a bad thing?

Ultimately, it didn’t seem like a thing I should be messing with if I had so little understanding.

I guess, for all my detached observances on this blog, I really am a superstitious person.

laveauobamaOr maybe I’ve just convinced myself of that because I’m a cheapskate who doesn’t want to throw away twenty cents.


Etiquette & superstition: pouring wine

Well, down in New Orleans where everything’s fine, all them cats is sippin’ that wine. Drinkin’ that mess is sure delight, soon to be fightin’ and fussin’ all night. Whine, whine, whine.

ETIQUETTE: Unless you are at my home, wine glasses should be filled about two-thirds full. According to our old friend Millicent Fenwick from Vogue’s Book of Etiquette, this is done so the glass is “full enough not to look niggardly, not so full as to spill easily.” The solution in my home is to fill the glass up to the rim, but serve it in a highball glass. Highball glasses don’t easily tip over. Millicent goes on to note that very fine wines are frequently only poured up to the halfway mark of the wineglass. This is another thing we don’t have to worry about in our home.

To make sure that wine does not fall on the table or dribble down the side of the bottle, you may want to employ a slight twisting motion when you are finishing the pour.

SUPERSTITION: It’s good luck for someone to spill wine on you. Really. Well, not in Rome. It’s really bad luck in Rome. If you are in Rome and you spill some wine, put some of it behind your ears and everything will be okay. If you aren’t in Rome, congratulations! Also, if someone spills salt and it falls in your direction, you are going to have bad luck until someone pours wine into your lap. Congratulations!

Photo of Beale Street Wine Race (which is in Memphis, not New Orleans) by ilovememphis on Flickr

Some renaissance men of New Orleans

It’s a little too Inferno-like for me to be poking around Los Angeles right now looking for new works of store front art around here, so I’m going to have to take a little mental vacation and enjoy some pieces found in New Orleans by flickr user anthonyturducken. Anthony has been focusing on the works of painter Lester Carey and documenting it in words and pictures, and as a master’s candidate in architecture preservation studies at Tulane, I think Anthony knows what he’s talking about. He’s even encouraged other people to join in with the documentation.

Lester has a huge portfolio, but I think the pieces of his work that I like best are the text-heavy ones. Take a look:


Thanks to both of you for all your work. It’s beautiful.

All photos by anthonyturducken. Used by permission; all rights reserved

Published in: on August 31, 2009 at 8:54 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,
%d bloggers like this: