Sunday, August 25, 2013

Ghostly Encounter or Too Much Booze?

     I am currently enjoying a rather quiet day with my little Monkey.  J is currently doing his 4 hour watch, and that leaves just us girls.  I'm enjoying the leisurely silence after a busy few weeks.  J and I got back from our Anniversary trip to NOLA Saturday night, and hit the ground running.  I start school again tomorrow, so we've been trying to get everything done in preparation for that.  Then yesterday I threw together a little lunch to celebrate J's 25th birthday.  (I told him he's getting old.)  It went rather well, I think, and J seemed to be enjoying himself, so what else could I ask for?  Today I worked on cleaning up what little bit of mess there was left from yesterday's gathering, and attempting to avoid eating the remains of J's birthday cake.  That was going well, but then I got super excited when I saw we have Root beer and Vanilla Ice Cream.  Do you know what this means?  Root Beer Floats!!!  Oh, yeah, I'm earning that run tonight.

     Yesterday while talking with a few of my friends I got on the subject of our trip, and I mentioned the Ghost Tour we did, and of course I brought up my ghostly encounter.  Maybe "ghostly encounter" is the wrong wording, let's call it my "possible paranormal encounter".  So let me relate what happened.

     First, let me begin by recommending the Haunted History Tours to anyone who goes to New Orleans!  They're awesome.  It's not the kind where things jump out or scare you, but you hear a lot of interesting history and ghost lore about the city.  That night our guide, Wendy, brought us to several different haunted areas, including a haunted bar and encouraged us to take pictures, pointing out various locations that have captured images of the paranormal in the past, but I wasn't having much luck with my camera.  At the bar, I ordered a VooDoo daiquiri, as recommended by our tour guide.  Now, I don't drink, so a quarter of the drink is all I had to ingest in order to feel slightly buzzed before we headed off the the most haunted building in New Orleans, the LaLaurie Mansion.  I'm going to gloss over the gruesome details, but if you want the full story, check it out here.

    The tour group gathered on the streets outside the old LaLaurie mansion, and we listened carefully to our guide's tale about the place.  Madame LaLaurie was a well-to-do woman in the time of slaves.  She had been married twice before, and both of those husbands had died of "mysterious causes".  She was married again to her third husband, a surgeon who loved anything to do with organs and bodily functions.  Madame LaLaurie was known to give lavish parties, with no expenses spared.  She'd serve the most expensive hors d'oeuvres of the time.  She'd even go so far as to disappear for a while during these parties, and return in a brand new lavish gown, which ruffled a few feathers, but people still attended these gatherings for the free booze and food.

     One night there was a small fire in the kitchen during one of these parties, and the party-goers panicked, but Madame LaLaurie (who had done her disappearing act) returned to her guests in time to calm the fears and suggest they move the party to the streets.  All the guests obeyed, and the band set up in the streets to play as the firemen entered the home to put out the small kitchen fire.  What they found was the cook chained to the stove.  She had started the fire on purpose, and she begged the firemen to ignore her and "save the ones upstairs".  Under the pretense of searching for embers, the firemen raided the rest of the house, looking for these "others".  When they found a barred door hidden in one of the upstairs room, they were ill-prepared for what was inside.   Madame LaLaurie had slaves chained to operating tables and walls, all having undergone some form of experiment that cost most of them their lives.  Evidently, she had been using the noise from these parties to hide the screams, and she had to change into a new dress before returning to her guests to hide the blood on the first gown.  As the firemen began to remove the bodies of the poor slaves who hadn't survived, the people in the streets saw the grutesque bodies and a wave of shock, anger, and fear swept over the crowd.  Once they rallied themselves, they began to talk of attacking the house to bring Madame LaLaurie to justice, but just as they began to organize, the gates swung open, and a carriage flew out onto the street in a mad dash.  Madame LaLaurie escaped, and she was never seen again.

     As the tour guide was relaying this story, I was taking pictures of the building and sipping my daiquiri, but when she began to tell, in exquisite detail, the types of horrors in the room, I began to feel dizzy and light headed.  A wave of nausea hit me, like I was going to be sick.  I remember thinking, "Dear God, don't let me throw up in front of all these people."  I felt the world go black, starting in the corners of my eyes and working it's way to the middle to cover all my vision.  I knew I was walking, but I didn't feel anything until my knee hit the road, and I felt the curb rise up to meet my rump.  I was seated, but I neither heard nor saw any of it.  When the blackness swam away again, J was crouched over me, looking concerned.  He grabbed the drink from my hand, threw it away, and began to fan me.  I felt sick, weak, and dizzy.  I blamed the alcohol, because I never drink.  J put his arm around me and helped me to my feet.  I had to lean on him for the rest of the tour.  That night I barely slept.  The street car rumbled outside our hotel window.  I was miserably hot.  I couldn't get comfortable.  In the middle of the night I heard a woman scream, but I didn't dare open my eyes to look in fear of what I'd see.

    The next morning I felt foolish and tired for letting a ghost story scare me so, and I still said it was the booze that made me feel so faint, but later that afternoon I googled the story to fill in the parts I had missed during my black out.  I was still laughing at my own silliness, until an article made me freeze.  Apparently 100s of people over the years have fainted during the retelling of the horrors in the LaLaurie mansion.  It's the only spot in the tour that is required to be shown, so the guides always gather the groups in the same spot outside where the party guest had stood, and they say that the people who faint are actually reliving the shock, fear, and anger the party goers felt at seeing the atrocities that came out of the house that night.  Imagine how you would feel, if during a party one of your host's servants was wheeled past you on a stretcher, with both her arms and both her legs cut off.  Was that what I had felt the night before?

     So I'll leave it to you to decide.  Did I encounter the residual feeling of shock that had been imprinted on the streets outside the LaLaurie mansion that night so long ago, or was a quarter of a daiquiri really too much for me to take?

    Now, for those of you who still have an appetite after a story like that, what's wrong with you?  Just kidding.  Here you go:

Teriyaki Glazed Chicken from The Best of Country Cooking
 Teriyaki Glazed Chicken
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into strips
3 TBS vegetable oil, divided
4 medium carrots, julienned
1 medium onion, julienned
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
Hot cooked rice
Sesame seeds, toasted, optional
Sliced green onions, optional

In a large skillet or wok, stir-fry chicken in 2 TBS oil for 6-8 minutes, or until juices run clear.  Remove chicken and set aside.  In the same skillet, stir-fry carrots in remaining oil for 2 minutes.  Add onion; stir-fry about 2-4 minutes longer or until vegetables are tender.  Combine soy sauce and brown sugar; add to skillet.  Bring to boil.  Return chicken to skillet.  Boil for 5 minutes or until sauce is slightly thickened.  Serve over rice.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onions.



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