How My Friend Lynne Is Just Like Rosa Parks Except In Her Case It’s Not So Much About The Right To Ride In The Front Of The Bus and More About The Right To Wear Bermuda Shorts In Commander’s Palace Restaurant.

OK, I pretty much just wrote this whole post in the title.

Anyway, so you know I went to New Orleans with my friends Lynne and Cary, right? We had a wonderfully lazy, relaxed time and it did all three of us a world of good. Here’s what our (belated) Mother’s Day Getaway looked like: On Wednesday, after we checked into our hotel (and it’s a good one at a good rate, so SCORE!), we had a wonderfully elaborate brunch at The Court of Two Sisters restaurant, then wandered around the Quarter a little bit, went back to the hotel and napped/read a book, then met in Lynne’s room and watched some of “Grey Gardens” on HBO (which is so very well done, btw), walked right across the street to our favorite restaurant, Bayona, and had an absolutely perfect dinner. Afterwards we went back to Lynne’s room to lounge around for a while and talk (her room is extra-spacious and has a couch and a little courtyard, so it’s our gathering place), then off to bed. Ahhhh… Can’t you almost feel our collective mother-brows unfurrowing?

Thursday morning after our complimentary breakfast (I’m telling you, this hotel is a find!), the talk turned to our most pressing subject of the day, which is where we were going to eat lunch and dinner. Now at this point I feel compelled to modestly admit to all of you that I am kind of AWESOME when it comes to planning trips. Seriously, some company should hire me for an obscene amount of money and harness my mad trip-planning skillz.  I would be such a valuable asset, except for the fact that I’m more than a little disorganized and my mad skillz might better be described an unhealthy obsession with all things Google. I can flat Google, ya’ll. It’s like my ministry. Anyway, though Lynne and Cary are both quite well-traveled and savvy in their own right, they do have the good sense to bow to my obvious superiority in this area and ask for my input re: the day’s dining plan. Either that, or they know it’s almost impossible to get a bad meal in New Orleans so they’d just as soon humor me. At any rate, we decided to hop the St. Charles streetcar and head up to the Garden District to have lunch at Commander’s Palace, a venerable old New Orleans favorite. In the interest of full disclosure, I will also add that part of the appeal of this particular choice rested in the fact that this lovely restaurant, which specializes in a world-famous version of Creole bread pudding, also has the added attraction (at lunch time only) of offering a few signature martinis for only 25 CENTS. No kidding.

Now look, I’ll be honest here: I am not a big drinker or anything–I have a tendency to get sleepy way before I get rowdy– but I DO occasionally enjoy a glass of wine or a nice girly martini. And by ‘girly’ I mean one that has all manner of exotic-flavored stuff added to it to make it a color that does not occur in nature and would cause a true martini purist like, say, James Bond, to turn up his nose in disgust. Yeah, that kind. I do stop short of a cute little paper umbrella in it, but that’s only because I’m usually too shy to ask for one. No, I don’t get drunk and no, I don’t hang out in bars (though this would be such a better story if it ended in a drunken brawl with cops and reporters, wouldn’t it?!) but hey, I’m not gonna pretend that liquor never passes my lips. All that to say? I was kinda happy at the thought of a 25 cent martini, because I’m not just socially responsible, I’m also cheap.

Cary and I languorously got dressed in our sundresses and capris and wandered down to Lynne’s little courtyard. She joined us, wearing some beige cotton shorts, a cute little summery top and some weird, African Masai/Swiss sandals that I’ve been giving her a hard time about. Apparently they are some fancy-schmancy specially designed walking shoes that cost a ridiculous amount of money and are supposed to do all kinds of miraculous things for your body. Here, read about them yourself, then come back here and TELL ME those are not the butt-ugliest shoes you have ever seen! They also have a tendency to make a person tip over a little, since they appear to have rockers of some sort on the bottom. Lynne doesn’t care, she just shrugs and tells me I’ll be laughing out of the other side of my pie-hole when I see how fabulously toned and gorgeous her legs become.

As we got ready to walk to the streetcar stop, Lynne casually asked Cary and I if we thought she’d be OK in shorts, and we both assured her that she would. New Orleans is a tourist town for crying out loud, not to mention it is seriously hot and muggy outside. None of us had ever been to Commander’s Palace before, but we’d all walked past it plenty of times and it didn’t seem any fancier than any of the other brunch places.  Here’s a picture:

Fine, right? So the three of us hopped on the St. Charles streetcar and headed uptown towards the Garden District, happily ready to enjoy a sumptuous lunch and a discount martini…

Until we saw the brass-plated sign on the door that said, “No Shorts.

Lynne visibly blanched and could have cheerfully killed Cary and I on the spot. Lucky for me, my cell phone rang right at that very moment and I stepped out of the line of fire to talk to Madi until the coast was clear. Lynne was ready to turn around and leave but Cary stepped up to the maitre’d, boldly pointed out Lynne’s fashion faux pas before he had a chance to and asked if this was going to be a problem. The nice gentleman regretfully informed us that yes, it was– and even though they were perfectly lovely and appropriate shorts, unfortunately Commander’s Palace had a very strict dress code. Undeterred, Cary told him that perhaps while we were waiting for our table, we could step outside and see if we could find a nearby shop and BUY her a skirt. The poor man looked flustered and by the time Lynne helpfully offered to take a white table cloth and turn it into a sarong, we could tell he was weakening. Finally he surreptitiously looked around and quietly told us that we could wait in the courtyard until a table was available and he would have a waiter come seat us. We lavished our thanks on him, and Lynne slunk through the kitchen into the courtyard where she collapsed into an iron chair and announced that she was absolutely mortified. At first Cary and I were laughing too hard to pay much attention to her, but as we settled down and began sipping our tall frosty glasses of fresh-squeezed limeade with hibiscus syrup (HEAVEN!), it became painfully apparent that Lynne was obviously scarred for life by the experience and was not going to shut up about it any time soon. It didn’t help matters much that it started sprinkling while we were sitting in the courtyard, not to mention we kept getting joined by various young 20-something local swells all decked out like they were going to the dang Kentucky Derby or something, which further fueled Lynne’s ire.

After about 15 minutes of Lynne’s kvetching and plotting (“Maybe we could just eat in the kitchen, they had some tables in there…”), coupled with soothing assurances from Cary and I (“The maitre’d said it was fine, anyway NO ONE CARES!!!”) she finally sighed loudly and declared in a Joan of Arc fashion, “Never mind, I am willing to make a complete fool out of myself just so you two can eat at Commander’s Palace and have a stupid martini for a quarter!” Because she’s a great friend like that. To which Cary and I promptly replied, “Great! Now shut up about it!” Because we’re great friends like that, too.

By the way, this would be a good time to mention another small detail concerning Lynne’s outfit. She was carrying a chicken purse.

Seriously. A purse shaped like a chicken. See, even though she and her doctor husband and their three charming children live in a elegant old neighborhood around Vanderbilt University which is decidedly ‘residential only’, she raises chickens. Her backyard is large and leafy and she got it into her head that if Martha Stewart can raise chickens in the Hamptons, why couldn’t she, so she had a beautiful little structure built which I like to call the Chicken Palace. It has an antique Dutch door and a chandelier for crying out loud, what else are you gonna call it? She has about five exotic-looking, apparently blissfully happy hens which lay a prodigious amount of organic eggs– healthy-looking light brown ones and even pale green ones. So people always give Lynne a lot of chicken-related items as gifts and one of them was a chicken purse, that is made of some kind of rubber with bright red handles that at a casual glance looks disconcertingly like a real bird. And she actually carries it. Everywhere. Check it out:

(Are you starting to see why I just love Lynne?)

So add the chicken purse to your visual image of Lynne’s outfit including those bizarre rocking chair/Masai warrior sandals and you’ll have an idea of just what we were up against trying to fast-talk our way into Commander’s Palace! Anyway, at long last a nattily-dressed little waiter with a pronounced French accent arrived to escort us to the dining room. As Lynne stood up, Cary and I offered to sandwich her between us and walk reeeeeealllyclose, like in a Marx Brothers movie, but she declined. There was a brief moment when the waiter spied the forbidden shorts and not only looked askance but appeared to be on the verge of fainting, but his waiter training and innate European manners kicked in and he just swallowed hard, quickly averted his eyes, then weakly fluttered his hand in our general direction and said, “This way, ladies.” Lynne started to hunch her shoulders and scurry, but I leaned in close and stage-whispered, “Lynne Shaw, you are the pride of McMinnville, Tennessee so straighten up and act like it–walk proud, honey!” Honestly, she would have punched me in the face if she wasn’t already on the verge of getting thrown out.

We walked through the elegant dining room like a sheepish little chicken purse parade, and were finally seated at a beautiful table right in the middle of the action. The waiter presented Lynne’s linen napkin to her with a flourish and she promptly opened it to its full capacity and tried her best to cover every square inch of her lap all the way down to her knees. Cary and I were still laughing our heads off, and by the time our glorious food and those highly anticipated 25 cent martinis arrived, even Lynne was seeing the humor in the situation. When Mary our waitress brought the check, she spotted Lynne’s purse and was completely entranced with it. “I have never seen anything like that in my life,” she exclaimed with a pronounced Brooklyn accent. “Yeah, well, it gets better,” Lynne said. “I’m also wearing shorts!” Mary peeked under the table to verify that Lynne was telling the truth and was absolutely flabbergasted. She looked at us in wonder and said, “They actually let her in? They haven’t let anyone in the dining room with shorts on in twenty five years!” I immediately tried to cover by saying, “Well, they are really nice linen ones,” but Lynne piped up and said, “No, they’re not– they’re just tacky ol’ hiking shorts!” At that point Cary and I began applauding and clapping Lynne on the back and Mary just kept shaking her head and saying, “Seriously, I’ve seen them come in here and actually escort people out if they managed to sneak by the front desk! How in the world did you do it?” When we told her that the nice man had obviously taken pity on us and made an exception, Mary laughed and said, “I can’t believe he did that, I can’t wait to give him a hard time about it…” Before she even finished the sentence all three of us yelled in unison, “NOT UNTIL WE LEAVE!!!”

So that, dear readers, is the story of how my friend Lynne broke the shorts barrier at Commander’s Palace restaurant. Yes, she bravely faced down hoity-toity maitre d’s, disapproving waiters and shocked diners just so each and every one of us could exercise our God-given right to wear whatsoever we wish in our quest for a good meal and a cheap martini. Yea, even our inappropriately-clad children’s children shall rise up and call her blessed.


25 Responses

  1. gracelynn

    OMG Tori! I am literally rolling on the floor laughing at this story and I needed that so much today. This sounds so much like something that would happen to me, Wanda and Chrstine. That chicken purse is just…too cool! LOL I have got to show that to my mom. She and dad raise chickens here and EVERYONE gives mom chicken items as gifts. LOL I will say, to my knowledge, she has never gotten a purse though. Just a whole lot of chicken statues! And you are right…those shoes definitely need serious help!

    As far as the drinks go, hey, I don’t drink myself but I don’t judge others either. So you are fine by me. I have a friend that has a drink occasionally and she and I were roomies for 4 years of college so believe me, I’m fine with it.

    Looking forward to this weekend! ;) Hope to see ya there.

  2. tammy961

    Tori, I am laughing so hard I can hardly type. I think your dear friend Lynne may have set a whole new precedent for dining along the entire gulfcoast. I can see it happening….That would be like us going out to Pens. Beach for lunch and them saying no shorts or even better what about the always tasteful Swimming suit top with a cover up on –OH and flip flops—always the dress of the tourists on the beach…

    Seriously tho, it does remind me of a vacation my kids took to Orlanda a few years back and were headed to the HolyLand experience…When they got to this OUTDOOR entertainment park the sign read: NO SHORTS!!! In Florida?? In the SUMMER?? are you kidding me??
    I have heard since TBN has taken over that has changed. Thank Goodness!! I just can’t imagine anyplace down here saying NO shorts for any daytime activity..a formal night time dining experience is totally different…
    Sounds like a terrific time was had by all.
    See ya this weekend at FF…travel safely…


  3. nashbabe

    A good chuckle, with perfect timing as it has been a less than lovely day. Sounds like Lynne has been taking Mary Jane Butters to heart with her chicken palace…funny, I thought the chicken thing was only happening over here in Hispantioch. ;-) Actually, a while back some people had a couple GOATS grazing on their front lawn over here…right next to folks with a deer hanging from their tree limb…no kidding! Thanks for the reminder about “Grey Gardens”, too. We have a serious hoarder on the other side of the family and I need to see that (when it comes out on DVD, I don’t have HBO–I know, how gauche of me!). ;-)

  4. grfdave

    AWESOME!!! Haven’t laughed this hard in a while and I needed this. Don’t EVER stop writing.


  5. auburn60

    I’m gonna buy a pair of those shoes and wear them this weekend and see if you notice. :) Or if you say anything. Especially when I tip over and fall on Russ’s table.

    So, enough about shorts and martinis and chickens. Where’s the food porn?

  6. justThelma

    Welcome back, Tori!

    Your friend Lynne sounds like a real hoot. Glad to hear you all had a fun, relaxing time away. The shoes certainly aren’t my cup of tea in the style department, but for walking, with those rounded bottoms, they look like they’d do half the work for you … hmmm, come to think of it, maybe if I got a pair I’d walk more?

    My husband is an old-fashioned door-to-door milkman, and you wouldn’t BELIEVE the cow-nucopia of gifts his customers give him … cow creamer and sugar bowl, cow salt and pepper shaker, cow coffee mugs, cow cheese knives, and the list goes on and on. No one’s ever given him a cow purse though. I suppose that’s a good thing.

  7. tori

    gracelynn– Can’t wait for FF either! See you there!

    tammy– Aw shoot, I bet they wore shorts in the REAL Holy Land back in the day, don’t you?See you soon!

    nashbabe– Sorry you had a less than lovely day… Check out Grey Gardens for real, I bet you will enjoy it!

    grfdave– Thanks, sweetie. Don’t ever stop reading!

    auburn– Oh, I’d notice. Especially when you tipped over. See you soon TOO!

    justThelma– “Hoot” is the operative word, that’s for sure. That is funny, I never made the cow/milkman connection, but now that you mention it I can see how it would definitely lend itself to all manner of obnoxious gift items!

  8. auburn60

    Just to be ADD and head off in a completely different direction–I have seen Grey Gardens twice now and watched the original on-line and thought it was dead on. ” It’s an ahhtistic smaash!!! “

  9. Phyllis R

    Ok, I just laughed so hard I “snorted” Diet Coke through my nose!!!!!!

  10. marlei

    thank you so much tori for giving me great stuff to taunt and tease tori and cary if the situation ever avails itself. fabulous!

  11. marlei

    oops – i meant lynne and cary of course!

  12. LindaB

    I’m gonna start saving quarters in case I ever get to New Orleans!!!

    Great story, fantastic friends! When you can look back on a trip with your friends and laugh your head off, life is good!!

  13. rachelbaker

    Seriously – how could someone pay that much money for shoes that ugly!? I don’t care what they do to your legs!

    By the way Tori you are wrong (I know this is a very rare occurance). Your story could not have been more entertaining even if it ended in a drunken brawl with cops and reporters.

    Glad you had a good time. We missed you.

  14. jonny

    Seriously missed you! Good to have you back, for a few days anyway = )

  15. Phyllis S


    Would you believe that I was laughing so hard and hanging my head, just reading the headline. Living a short distance from New Orleans, I knew where this was going, just had no idea how! This could make headlines in the Advocate (local NOLA paper)…We know that NO ONE gets into Commanders Palace with shorts on, that is with the exception of the ladies from Tennesse..Way to go girls…

    BTW, did you take pictures? I know you ALWAYS have a camera handy…

    Linda B., you know you have a place to stay, come on down, just stop and pick up Betty, Beth and Momma Lloyd.

  16. MostlySunny

    I’m dyin’ laughing here! This is what makes going out with the girls so much fun. Husbands (at least mine) would have left at the first “No.” You guys will be laughing about this forever! When you three are in the nursing home – and Lynne will have the best room – you will say to each other one day in the game room over a game of Dominoes, “Remember that time in New Orleans when Lynne wore shorts and…” You’ll have the whole place bustin’ up!

    Sandals – NO!

    Chicken purse – very chic! And, come to think of it, no one probably noticed the shorts at all (except for Mary the waitress) because they were checking out the Chicken purse! And dying to find out where to get one!

    tammy961 – We went to the Holy Land Experience two years ago. I had on shorts and so did everyone else (except for the high priest in the tabernacle!)

    Now I’m wondering…hmmmm…when a place has a dress code for men, they will provide either a tie and/or sport jacket for those who are not dressed “properly.” Where are the skirts/slacks for the ladies? I think the table-cloth-as-a-sarong was a great idea! Just as long as it matched the chicken purse!

  17. nashbabe

    how about men in a sarong? ;-)


    Well, welcome back! Sure did miss ya!

    Tammy961 – Thanx for the heads-up re Holy Land Experience! Planning to go next month, nice to know I can’t wear shorts! Who would’ve guessed that?

    And I agree w/ Auburn60 – where’s all those pics of the great food, that never seems to show up on your hips?(I guess we credit zumba, huh?)

    And, I gotta get tickets to some of these FFs, since that’s where I can meet everyone! Maybe I need to put off the trip to FL, and wait until the next cruise!

    Glad to have you back, Tori, and good to hear from everyone else, too. I don’t realize how much ya’ll are a part of my life until I do not hear from someone! Tori, surely ya got more pics than that!?! I feel a little cheated! Did you think you were on vacation, or what?
    Love Johnnie

  19. tammy961

    DELIVEREDJEPARKER63–Since TBN has taken over the HE you can wear shorts..

    MostlySunny– My kids were there in April/May 2006–and no shorts allowed then..It HAS changed so take your prettiest shorts and have a great day…

  20. juliedilworth

    I got tickled this morning – I saw the chicken purse in a catalog. Appropriately, the catalog is called “What on earth”?

  21. kwr221

    OMG, I sure hope I didn’t pee on myself, I’ve been laughing so hard!

    Not only are the shoes ugly, they’re EXPENSIVE! Holy cow!

  22. kidpyramid

    Thank you for bringing some levity into my life!
    When my triplets were born prematurely we were at a great hospital but the food stunk. Also there were no fast food or inexpensive restaurants near by. One restaurant was located across the street. It didn’t look like much from the outside. SO one day my husband, tired and dressed very shabbily, walked into the restaurant (Pacific Dining Car) to find a maitre d’ in a tuxedo. He took stock of his attire and asked if it was alright for him to dine there as he was. The maitre d’ handed him a menu and said, “If you can afford it.”
    I figure if you’re wearing more than a swimsuit, have on shoes and can afford to eat there then what is the problem, really?

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