The older I get, the more rarely I drink root beer. The last time I had a root beer was probably at Ted’s Frosttop because that’s what you get when you go to Ted’s Frosttop. I go to the Ted’s Frosttop on on South Claibourne Avenue. It’s the only one in the city. I understand there are one or two more in the suburbs, somewhere I have never been nor do I care to visit.
I can’t remember the last time I had a Barq’s. It must have been at Parkway Bakery and Tavern when we sat outside because my nephews are too young to sit at the bar. It’s not a big bar anyway and I’m sure the last thing the bartender wants is dealing this gaggle of yahoos from out of town. We sat outside. I had a Barq’s with the boys. They love root beer. They always have. I always know what I can buy them for Christmas. I’m the best uncle ever.
Now that I think about it, the last time I had a Barq’s was at Ralph’s-on-the-Park with Jimmy. Eric was working. We both ordered bottles of Barq’s because Jimmy was reminiscing about his youth that afternoon and the subject of root beer came up. It had something to do with when the Rockery was a drive-in restaurant. Fried chicken and root beer were involved in whatever escapade Jimmy was reliving. Girls were involved, too, naturally, they always were in Jimmy’s memories. Nowadays, the Rockery is a gas station/hardware store/real estate agency/dental office. One stop shopping.
Jimmy and I both agreed that Barq’s nowadays is too sweet. We also agreed that our palates have changed as we have gotten older. Jimmy and I both finished our bottles out of a sense of honor. We had ordered them, after all. Eric is the bartender other bartenders aspire to be.
Jimmy is dead. I have yet to meet another flaneur like him. It has only been a few months. It can take years to find a true friend. I am old enough to know the value of expectant patience. The secret to happiness is low expectations.
When I close my eyes and think about New Orleans, the flavor that comes to mind is root beer. Root beer packs a complex flavor profile——so does New Orleans. Root beer is a little too sweet for my tastes, but I think that, too, about my sweet life here in New Orleans. When I think about the alternative, when I consider the option of living my life outside a New Orleans state of mnd, I will take a frosty schooner of root beer any day to wash the bad taste out of my mouth. New Orleans tastes like root beer. Spend a week here and you’ll agree. It’s good.
Trust me. I know. This is a face you can trust:
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