Resolution Accomplished - WYES-TV Chocolate Sunday
When I was younger, it drove me nuts when unexpected happenings would take place whenever I tried to do something out of the normal routine, like it was payback from the unseen protocol board that I should be waxing the garden hose or getting tax items in order. I've learned that you go into each situation like solving a Rubik's Cube -- it's never the same way twice and the probabilities of different outcomes are staggering. (BTW, my way of solving the cube was: 1) take corner piece out, 2) allow other pieces to fall out, 3) reassemble the cube with each side in one color.)
My planned route to the casino was altered by the police who blocked my way to Convention Center Blvd. I promptly went on Tchoupitoulas long enough to get to Henderson and into the wrong lane. I took an unexpected tour of Mardi Gras World, the Port of New Orleans (cruise ship boarding day!) and the many pedestrians going to nearby Comic Con. I got to the casino's garage, which was another issue since I loathe it. I don't know about you, but Harrah's and Canal Place's garages feel like a combination of an optical illusion and IQ test. I fail at both in driving in these corkscrew patterns and close-knit lanes. I found a decent spot on the 4th level, walked down to the street's garage entrance, walked past the Gulf Stream restaurant, and made my way into the casino.
I don't gamble. I had my old rewards card from years ago and everything was still set at zero when I activated it inside a slot machine. Do you have any idea how long thirty minutes is to someone who doesn't gamble versus a machine that wants to be fed money constantly? I wasn't halfway through my eighth dollar when I realized I could change games and get one that took only 20 cents a hit instead of 50 cents. And the games aren't like Pac-Man or even slots. I played 20 lines with three rows of nine whatever-those-symbols are and I managed to get my money back when I won the chance for it to play itself. All I had to do was hit a button and feed it money. It was like watching paint dry. I wasn't excited when I won. Wasn't heartbroken when I lost. Because my player's card wouldn't tell me I had qualified for parking, I took a guess and stopped playing after awhile.
To my delight, they took the early VIPs early, but we had to wait in an alcove near the entrance of the theatre until they opened the doors. Sadly, I witnessed the erosion of today's society's good manners. Across from us was a chorus of men singing to the crowd like a barbershop's quartet. You don't see this everyday, but the folks in front of me apparently get this singing treatment often because they didn't pay attention. They talked, loudly, and played with cellphones, and the applause after the song was dismal at best. Society has forgotten its cue on clapping or showing gratitude. Sad.
Close to 2pm and the doors opened to a huge table of king cakes: different bakery versions and all covered with icing, sprinkled, and colored sugar in purple, green and gold. A couple of chocolate versions were there, but I grabbed two large pieces and made my way inside the theatre.
We were each handed one very small Styrofoam plate. There were no rules posted, but you were only issued one plate and if you threw it away, you would no longer be served.
I went to the table closest the entrance and took two samples to eat later. I later discovered these were alcoholic in nature and, to my non-alcoholic palate, were strong and gross. I quickly recovered with a chocolate covered strawberry and a sample of chocolate cheesecake and a shot of cool brewed coffee. Petit four also tasty.
Next series of tables held stacks of cupcakes and I chose two. One of them contained cayenne. Would have been nice to have been warned about that ahead of time. And another chocolate covered strawberry and chocolate ice cream and chocolate fancy mini desserts along with my favorite -- dark chocolate tortue from Southern Candymakers. They were the mini-size as expected for charity events.
I shared a table with two ladies who had been coming for the past ten years. They said I did the right thing by coming early because the regular crowd will be three times as big beginning at 3pm and food will run out shortly thereafter. And then I noticed one of them had a plastic baggie in her purse and snuck certain food items inside it. I saw others do this as well during my visit. They looked guilty, as well they should. A charity event is not the place or time to horde food, as if there's a right time for that.
From there I had a large piece of ganache cake with chocolate milk and started to feel stuffed. That uncomfortable stuffed feeling. I guess it happened with the weight loss. My mind loved the idea of a free day to eat all the chocolate I wanted, but my stomach told it to talk to my colon. I went to another table and a side room with English teacakes, more strawberries, and I hit the "I'm full" mark. It was disappointing, but I had to obey. I scarfed down one more strawberry with a cup of coffee and I was done. I threw in the towel by tossing away my plate. And it wasn't even 3pm yet. I took pictures of everything (and I'll upload them as soon as the internet gods allow) and called it a day.
As I left the hall with candy-themed music playing, the main doors with frosted windows barely displayed a crowd of people against them. They were going to let the chocoholics loose and I took the side exit to avoid them.
I scanned my card to learn I had three minutes of play to do before I got that free parking, which cost me half of my winnings. I took the tunnel back to the garage and thought about going to the gym afterwards since I had half the afternoon left and wasn't in any mood to consume anything else.
Remember what I said about preparing for things to go wrong? I emerged from the tunnel to the garage on the 4th floor and walked to my car, or at least where I thought I had parked it. Retracing my steps took me a floor higher, then a lower floor, then to the top of the garage to the bottom. I wasn't doing a good job of not panicking. I tried to work at this logically. I pulled into the space, so all other floors with spaces going the opposite direction won't be the correct floor. Once this didn't bring me my car, I took my panic button on the keyring and basically hit every single car as I approached from the floor below. After 45 minutes of power-panic-walking, I had to face the real possibility that my car was stolen.
I contacted OnStar and the customer service guy was nice enough to blow the horn and flash the lights, but this wasn't a deserted garage at night. I was surrounded by drivers trying to find spaces, people coming and going, and the honking/flashing wouldn't work in this case. I was then transferred to the roadside assistance personnel. Oh where was that chocolate buffet when I needed it?!
TV is not real life, apparently. McGhee can trace moving cars with a keystroke and a GPS. OnStar cannot do that unless I filed a police report and they would have to contact the police. I studied all the cars and concluded my car wasn't there. Before I went the step of having them contact garage security for me, I went to the elevators and saw the phone number displayed for security. I told OnStar I'd call myself. The call was answered by Demitria Williams.
In a nice voice she asked, "Which garage did you park in?" The question thunderstruck me since I've always known there to be one garage. She explained there are two, exactly alike, next to each other and I probably went to the wrong one. I looked out the window and saw the top of the casino roof and the building seemed too close to me. I felt like a moron, thanked her profusely, and left the building via the stairs. And there, down the block, was the damned Gulf Isle restaurant sign.
I couldn't take the stairs back up, so I climbed up the ramp. Yes, it was clearly marked not to do it, but I was frustrated and I believe took care of all remaining calories and built up anxiety. I found the stairwell, went up to the 3rd floor and found my car. Yes, I remembered the incorrect floor. This is me on an adventure, folks.
I went straight home and took no notice that I spent more time in search of my car than at the actual event. I know what I will do differently next year -- park near the Riverwalk!