Amy’s Fodor’s Travel New Orleans guide was blooming with colorful sticky-notes and bookmarks, each tab color-coordinated to various highlighted lines on the 9pt font, single-spaced, legal-sized pages of her intended itinerary. When Amy showed the completed agenda to her mother, her mom glanced at the dense, rainbow-striped text and said, “Wow, I’m exhausted just looking at it.” Amy took it as a compliment.
Shannon was also daunted when Amy giddily explained her fastidiously documented lists. “Are these clock times in this column,” she asked as she studied the fine print. Amy nodded. “So we have to be out of the garden district by 1:54?”
“That’s when we catch the street car to Audubon park. But it’s not written in stone. We can catch the 2:01 or the 2:08 and still be fine. We may not need the full 17 minutes at the doll museum.”
Amy’s explicit planning was purely pragmatic. Travel is expensive, and there were a lot of cities she wanted to visit, so this might be her only trip to New Orleans. She wanted to see everything she could, and take pictures of it all so she could revisit the city in her photo album any time. Her map featured both day’s treks in large loops, one green, one yellow, and looked like a Venn diagram where the only point of overlap was the hotel she and Shannon were renting on Ursulines Avenue.
While Amy was excited about seeing sites like Anne Rice’s house and the Eiffel Society, Shannon was mostly interested in investigating the rumored power of the infamous hurricane, a drink she’d heard spoken of with both reverence and regret. If she was being honest, she hated Amy’s itinerary – it looked rigid to the point of fragility – but she’d decided it would be easier to shut her mouth and let Amy lead the way. When in Rome, she told herself, do as the obsessive visiting Mainer does.
They arrived at the hotel late Thursday. After unpacking, Amy recommended they get to bed early and be ready for Café Du Monde at 8:00 the next day. “Amy, you’ve planned the next two days start to finish, and I appreciate that, but can I have tonight? Can we just get a drink and relax?”
Amy nodded. “Sure, of course. But so you know, I have relaxing scheduled tomorrow, too.” She picked up the itinerary to confirm the time, but Shannon snatched it from her hands and tossed it on the bed.
Soon after settling into the first bar they came upon, a place called Lafitte’s that felt more like colonial Boston than how they’d imagined New Orleans, Shannon confirmed that the hurricane – a cloying collision of multiple rums – deserved its infamy. Amy had been skeptical on the walk over, but she found the fruity concoctions quite delicious and managed to keep pace through the first two rounds, only declining when Shannon ordered a third. Shannon was deep into it when she stood to go to the washroom, teetered unexpectedly, and plopped back onto her bench. “Shit. I’m schnookered.” She grabbed Amy’s arm to look at her watch. “11:07. The rainbow paper says time to leave.”
The next morning, Shannon awoke with the feeling that someone had forced her head into a too-small helmet. The alarm clock on the nightstand read 8:17, and Amy was sitting at the room’s tiny desk, apparently updating one of the long itineraries. Shannon winced at the thought of Amy drill-sergeanting her across half of New Orleans while she nursed a hangover. “It’s after 8:00. Did I screw up your plan?”
Amy turned her head slowly. “I changed the first item to buy aspirin.”
“Count me in on that one. What’s after that?”
“I’m making some adjustments. Like you said, there were too many famous houses with dashes in the names.” She quickly scanned the list again, then flipped the sheet and began writing.
“I said something about famous houses? When was that?”
“Last night on the walk home.” Amy handed the sheet to Shannon. On the back was the new itinerary:
“Wow. You cut out a lot. Like, a lot. Why?”
Amy looked confused. “You said a lot of my items were tourist overkill. Actually, your word was tourist roadkill.”
“When did I say that?”
“I just told you. We were walking home and you said you hoped the glow of all the highlighter marks wouldn’t keep you up. That’s how it got started.”
Shannon sat up in bed. “I said that? I don’t even remember thinking that.” Amy nodded. She wasn’t smiling. “Jeez Amy, what a bitch thing to say. I’m sorry.”
“No, it wasn’t like that. You were funny. And you were kind of right. I don’t need a bunch of photos of stately manors.”
Shannon couldn’t remember any of this. “Are you jerking my chain? Holy moly, those hurricanes were strong.”
“You don’t remember anything we talked about?”
“Nothing so far. I remember leaving the bar, I think.” Shannon read the new list again. “This looks like a list I would make.”
“You did. You told me last night. Except the crawfish, that’s mine. And the aspirin, that’s new.”
“Damn, I’m so sorry. You put so much work into your list.”
Amy shook her head. “I’m not mad, Shan, I just have a headache. I might have been mad if you weren’t so funny, or if I wasn’t so drunk, but we were cracking up. When we got back, the desk clerk told you to shut up. Exact words – shuuuuuut uuuuuup.”
“That doesn’t sound like I was funny.”
“I laughed a lot, I know that much. You were rating your interest in things you remembered from the list. The french erector set got a three, and you’re right, it would be cooler if it actually resembled the tower. Anne Rice’s house got an eight if it had vampires, zero if not. The doll museum got a negative five.”
“It sounds like I was awful.”
“No, you weren’t mean, you were just worried you’d feel restricted. But honest, I like your list better today. I don’t want to try to keep a schedule with this headache. So get up, I need that aspirin.”
Shannon got up, already dressed from the day before, and the two went to the lobby to get directions to a pharmacy. SHannon was glad to learn it was a different clerk. Once they were outside, they walked in silence while Amy fidgeted with her camera. “I still want to take photos, though, so I can remember everything.” She quickly pointed the camera up the street and snapped a picture. “We’ll call this one Hangover Street.”
Shannon pulled the new itinerary from her pocket and pointed at the two appearances of hurricanes on the list. “You might call it Hangover Street #1.”
Amy smiled and said, “shhhhh.” They kept walking in silence, eager to find the pharmacy.
© 2016 WPReagan. This is one story in the 2016 series, Everyday Stories: 30 Tales in 30 Days Inspired by 30 Stranger’s Photographs.