[ Ash Dowie / Unsplash]

Po-Boy Views: June Bug or Steam Tea

June 08, 2021
By: Phil LaMancusa

Surprise, it's June, named for the Roman goddess Juno, the goddess of marriage and the wife of the big guy Jupiter. And, at this point, the year is either half empty or half full depending how you look at it, and, in New Orleans, it's the start of a long hot summer. Crock Pot hot; sidewalk egg frying, wet blanket, steam room, Swamp Ass Hot.

Now, you readers that were lured here from Northern climes may still have the biorhythms of a race of bipeds that have been conditioned to four distinct and separate seasons; not so here.

Autumn is like a drunk on a park bench that wakes up only to doze again; winter, like a guerilla, forays in to strike when we least expect; zephyrlike spring makes cameo appearances in April and May, while the Dire Wolf of Summer, after butt dialing us in those months, appears, for true, in June to nestle its 600 pounds of sin into our otherwise fun-loving auras. Besides that, our seasons are shrimp, crawfish, gumbo, and football.

In June, the heat and humidity are amplified by the street stupidity as if folks here have not realized that, again, any clothing is too much clothing, you should avoid getting drunk by daylight, and if you're not using hot sauce for anything else, you use it to cool yourself down. That's right, it's time for tee shirts and shorts, stick to one (maybe two) beer with that barbecued shrimp po-boy, and smother everything you eat in Crystal Hot Sauce; ergo, the weather will bow down to you. Dig your capsicum high and don't forget your SPF 50 sunscreen. You really want cool (?), go to a movie.

I've spent many summers street level in the French Quarter; June is when people start wishing to go back to May, better yet February or maybe December. June is when brains start melting, psyches explode and peoples' hair catches fire; June is when the reality of summer sets in. June is when Louisiana's Mother Nature says, "Tant pis pour toi, Chere. Summer's returned, I've turned up the thermostat, and I'm coming for you with my unique heat and humidity can of Whup Ass (ready or not); relax and flow into it or draw the shades and live in that space under the air conditioner in your bedroom with cool condensation dripping on your heated brow. You complained about it being cold last winter? Suck it up, Chuck. It's only gonna get hotter!"

June is when ghosts come out because it's too warm to stay inside wherever they've put you when you die. Madame Delphine LaLaurie comes strolling up Royal Street with her daughters, Tite Poulette is meeting her lover Kristian Koppig on Dumaine Street, Bill Faulkner is having a game of chess with Lyle Saxton in Jackson Square, and the infamous Raspberry Mahogany is back chain smoking his Camel straights. The lovers, the muggers, and thieves are out, as well as additional clandestine revelers immuned with absinthe and other liquid spirits enjoying the relative coolness of the after dark. Vampires hum ancient mesmerizing melodies luring you in for a nibble, as do all manner of insects that inhabit our tropic clime: mosquitoes buzzing, cicadas singing, and those gigantic roaches that we call Palmetto Bugs that can take wing and fly into your face, sometimes stinging, going clickity clacking around the walls and ceiling fans. Welcome to New Orleans, with stinging caterpillars, spiders, and all manner of nocturnal, sometimes marsupial in nature, critters; summer is not for the faint of heart. And the breeze whispers, "Stella!"

June is when the specter of storms past herald storms in your near future and smart money starts thinking about tempest preparedness; it's our simultaneous eyes in the rear view and on the road ahead weather outlook. We tune in regularly to watch our favorite climate forecasters, judging their level of excitement when a blower in the gulf looks like it's gonna eat our lunch. It's a real Russian roulette of doom and gloom, and each spaghetti model will always include a direct hit. Good luck, this goes on until November; don't let it affect your blood pressure. Check your battery supplies, eat what's in your freezer, and get the car tuned and gassed.

June is also when we take stock of water to immerse ourselves in; whether it's a weekend getaway to the gulf, across the lake, or sussing who will give us "pool privileges." The city provides free swimming pools and the hip get to enjoy moments of aquaculture gratis. Smart money always knows someone that can sneak them into a hotel for a couple of hours poolside (women are great at this), and you'll learn sooner than later that you'd better be on your best behavior or you'll be back on the street with the rest of the melting masses.

So this June when you turn on the cold water tap and get luke warm, ask yourself: "Who is this Luke person anyway? Was he moderately warm, tepid? Lacking convictions, half hearted? This faucet says cold. What am I to believe? Who can I believe? Who can I trust? Oh hell, I'm going back to the bathroom and lie naked on the cool tile floor!"

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