The scene: Ace Hotel, New Orleans, LA, Josephine Estelle Bar, 3:30pm, Tuesday
The players: an artsy-fartsy, young, white bartender from DC; a no-nonsense, middle-aged, African-American local named Frank; and me
Frank: What you drinking over there, boss?
Me: No idea. I think it’s called a mystery, snazzy cocktail. Regardless, it’s delicious.
Frank (to bartender): I’ll have what he’s having.
Me: What’s your name, my man?
Frank: Frank. You?
Me: Benj. Pleasure. What’s your story, Frank?
(Frank tells me his story, which includes just returning from the Masters.)
Frank: What’s yours?
Me: You want the long version or the short version?
Frank: Depends on how interesting it is.
Me: Well, I just quit my corporate job in Charlotte, NC and sold most everything and moved to Mississippi and moved my family down here and we are kinda in limbo but it is quite exciting and very interesting and I just explore and the rest of the family is wildly happy living out on a farm and it is a complete 180 and totally unique but we all kinda do whatever we want now hence why I am sitting at the bar at the Ace Hotel in New Orleans at 3:30pm on a Tuesday drinking fruity drinks and talking to you.
Bartender: Wow. I think we might want the long version.
Me: Thought you might.
Me (to no-nonsense Frank): How’s the drink?
Frank: Fantastic! You know, I’ve got a buddy in the mountains of Colorado that kind of did the same thing. Invests in real estate now, so really doesn’t DO much.
Me: Yeah, I don’t think people realize there are a million unique ways to make money. It doesn’t have to be the key focus in life. Happiness and doing what you want with your time should be up there at the top too.
(some “dream big” chit chat)
Frank: So I told you I travel a lot, but you know what? I just got rid of my car. It’s cheaper, and it’s less of a nuisance.
Bartender: Yep. Me too.
Me: Tell me more. I am in the process of removing as many nuisances from my life as possible.
Frank: I just don’t need it.
Me: I’ve learned that there are a lot of things in life that we really don’t need.
Bartender: And, car insurance in Louisiana is ridiculously expensive!
Me: I was on a swamp ride this morning, and that’s what everyone was talking about. Must really be expensive.
Bartender: It’s insane.
Frank: So why here man? Why New Orleans? Why the Ace Hotel?
Me: I love this place, Frank. It’s like my centering place down here. It’s weird and unique. It’s extremely diverse. And I always feel welcome.
Have a great week.-Benj
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