New Orleans is a unique city in many ways. The food, the music, the party culture, the festivals, the weddings, the graveyards, the culture in general… the list goes on. However, after being here for long enough, some of the things about New Orleans that may at first seem strange or extravagant will begin to seem commonplace. This can often result in culture shock when going to a different city that might not share some of our quirky qualities, and it might take a while to get used to the normalcy of these places in relation to NOLA. Here are some of the things that “normal” people do in New Orleans, but maybe should practice refraining from doing before visiting (or returning to) a city other than this one.
1. Walking Around Topless
Maybe don’t try doing this on the streetcar at 9 a.m. on a Monday morning, but in many parts of the city, you can somehow get away with being topless. You might even be praised and adored by some. Even though it’s technically illegal without body paint or tassels or even fake nipples, you just might be admired and celebrated as a fun, exciting person for it. In a different city, probably not quite as much.
2. Calling Strangers “Baby”
“How ya doin’, bay-buh?” Here, it’s a normal greeting. Do that somewhere else and you’ll get odd looks, and probably some form of retaliation and scolding, regardless of gender.
3. Not Giving Cardinal Directions
Most people in other cities understand the meaning of north, south, east and west. We’re somewhat unable to grasp that concept here in the Big Easy. Instead, we use directional indicators like “Uptown”, “Downtown”, “Lakeside” and “Riverside”. So maybe brush up on that before visiting, and study the map.
4. Casually Drinking a Beer or Cocktail in the Street
After spending enough time here, you might get a little too used to doing this. So take it from me, when you take your drinking talents elsewhere, be sure to remember that this is, in fact, illegal almost everywhere else. You might get yourself into some trouble.
5. Greeting Everyone with a “Hello,” a Wave, or Even a Smile
New Orleans is very much a friendly city. Walking down the street and at least nodding at passersby is widely practiced and accepted. Try that in certain other cities (New York, I’m looking at you) and you’ll be seen as annoyingly happy and overly friendly. Probably even creepy.
6. Dancing Whenever You Hear Music of Any Kind
Here in NOLA, if we hear as much as a maraca, we’ll at least bob our head and walk in rhythm. It’s not that other cities don’t like music, but people will definitely think something is wrong with you if you bring that quality to most other places.
7. Not Having a Basement
Need I explain? We’re below sea level. We have lizards and alligators under our houses, not a room to play foosball in.
8. Texting Somebody the Phrase, “Ya Heard Me?”
Pretty much anywhere else, you’ll get a response back saying something along the lines of, “No…but I can read what you texted me!”
9. Mentioning Brain-Eating Amoebas in the Tap Water in a Nonchalant Way
Although it still kind of astounds me, that’s somehow not a huge deal here. Mention that without an air of concern somewhere else, though, and people will run for their HazMat suit.