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What's Wrong With This Picture?

That summer, Carnal and I went home to New Orleans.

It was fun to reconnect with old friends and a great place to just kick back ...and collect unemployment. When the school year ended, so did the paychecks. But if you stood in line at the unemployment office every week and answered the simple questions ... Did you work last week? Did you look for work last week? Are you allergic to work? Did your cat work last week? Can you spell work? ... you were eligible for a check.

Anyone collecting unemployment knows that you get to know the same people you see every week and it becomes like a family. I met some very interesting people ... like John (who had a language all his own). John apparently was on unemployment for many years and just kept answering those questions right. No one asked him "How did you get unemployment in the first place?" Our conversations went like this ...

Me: "Hey John. How goes it?"
John: "Well ... Went to the Bank yesterday (Blood Bank) ... made a deposit (sold his blood) ... knocked around the hood (spent time at home) ... and did some weed (you know)." John usually passed out about then or threw up in the lobby.

When we weren't standing in line ... we were busy doing other family things. For one, my brother Wayne was married during that first summer of our unemployment. He married a girl from Little Rock, Arkansas,who was the daughter of the founder of Magic Mart (Wal Mart's smaller illegitimate cousin once removed ). Wayne's new family embraced him with open arms (and a house, a job and a dog).

After they met our family .... they had second thoughts.

The wedding parties were lavish ... at country clubs, fine restaraunts and great hotels. There were numerous Arkansas family friends who generously hosted parties every night for a solid week. My mom and her loud cousins managed to create havoc at every one of them. The bride's family was genteel and soft spoken, like there was a fresh breeze in the room  ... my family was crazy (literally) and loud, like a grenade was thrown in the room.

There was one unfortunate tragedy at the wedding.

My cousin Rose ... a well known artist in New Orleans ... who was in her 80s, had become depressed in recent years. She told everyone on the dancefloor at the wedding that she would never dance again. That night, she swallowed a bottle of sleeping pills. That was her fifth attempt and the first successful one. She died in her sleep.

Esther never got over it.

She said that she hated it when Rose got all the attention.


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