Sunday, July 22, 2012

Laissez les Bons Temps!

When I announced my eleventh hour decision to attend Tales of the Cocktail this week, I was met with a lot of questions. Besides the usual "What is that?" "Where are you staying?" and "So do you have to drink all day?" the one that puts the "frequent" in the AQ is "How do you prepare for a cocktail convention in New Orleans in July? What does that do to a body?"

It's been three years since I've been there (after I swore I'd make a point of visiting every six months or so. My circumstances kept changing, what can I say?). While I like to believe my overall Amanda-ness is pretty much in tact, I am also a changed person in many ways. On a physical level, I have lost nearly forty pounds since then, and my eating and drinking habits are more regimented. I will not be attending as many seminars. I will know more people (many of whom I met at Tales last time and have continued to be great friends and supporters.) I will have a clearer agenda instead of attempting to smoosh everything into a drunken, steamy package within a short amount of time. I may not be wiser, but I am at least older and a little more practical.

In 2009, New Orleans was not only hot, but it was experiencing a bonafide heatwave.

To imagine what the air feels like, remove the plastic coating off a large piece of dry cleaning (If you don't have this, a really big trash bag will do.) Turn on your shower using the hottest water setting and close the bathroom door for a few minutes. Now fully clothed, put the dry cleaning plastic over your head and stand in the bathroom (which, if you live in New York City, should absorb all this steamy air nicely since it has the approximate square footage of a gym locker.) For added authenticity, turn on a hair dryer full blast and blow that into the bag too, aiming slightly away from but at the same time close to your face.

An added bonus, especially if you're as heavy as I was back then, and sorry to be so explicit, but these conditions are prone to a distressing degree of chafing.

Now, have you ever been drunk during the daytime on a steamy summer's day, when you start to feel loopy and slightly undead, all thoughts moving as though trapped in a block of jello? You will feel this way for the duration. Last time I don't think I was completely sober again until around Thanksgiving. It may not be so extreme this time, but still.

Oh, and the cuisine is not exactly known for its gossamer delicacy or lack of sodium. You will gain an average of five water weight pounds a day. Tip: pack clothes made from stretchy material or billowy cotton and wide shoes.

Sounds like fun, right?

But it is. It's wonderful. Hundreds of bartenders, brand representatives, journalists, chefs, promoters and drinks enthusiasts from around the world are all in this with you, united in one of the greatest cities in the world that just happens to be a tad warm. Because they want to be. We are celebrating a remarkable industry with a theatrical past and exciting, delicious future. These are (mostly) people who produce smiles for a living, and (mostly) make each other smile in their downtime. This has been a huge year for me, how could I not be a part of this?

I'm arriving a bit late, but at least I will be there for a good portion of the shenanigans to come. Hopefully with some time to experience more of the city and hang out with local friends. Yeah, there will be some level of good for my body that will leave a bit undone (I actually have to eat more in the days leading up so my body doesn't go into total shock.) But it will be well worth it. To quote INXS, "I've missed the people; I've missed the fun." Can't wait to see you all on Thursday in New Orleans!

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