3 very tense human interactions in Grand Isle, Louisiana (June 3 and 4, during the Covid pandemic and the George Flloyd protests).
- A Karen in the Wild
On the beach across from the Cajun Holiday Motel where we always stay when fishing Grand Isle, my daughter Cleo and I experienced a Karen in the wild. We’d bought takeout dinner and carried it across the street to a path that led to a sand dune where we’d sit and stare at the ocean as we ate. Grand Isle has many open paths to the ocean, but some of them remain private, though the private paths lack labels, and look just as open. As we two walked up the path, a white lady on her 2nd floor balcony, phone in one hand and glass of wine in the other, sloshed her drink shooing us away. I laughed and kept walking. “This is private property!” she yelled meanly. “Turn around! Go!” I laughed harder, for her to hear. “I am serious!” she yelled louder and got off the phone before adding, “I will call the police!”
“Call the police on me and my child for wanting to eat dinner while looking at the ocean. That should go well.” I should have turned and left, but I have consistently terrible reactions to being bullied or treated unfairly. I walked on toward the ocean, my god-given right.
“Turn around and leave, NOW!” she screamed down at me. “I’m calling the police!”
“Yeesh, maybe don’t have another class of wine, Karen,” I said loudly, still walking. I popped that quip off for Cleo, who loves the Karen jokes. But when I turned, Cleo stood far behind me at the path’s start. I beckoned her to join me but she refused. I hopped onto the next door neighbor’s grass: “Here, now I’m not on your property now, Karen. Leave us alone.” I beckoned Cleo again. She shook her head no.
“I know the neighbor. We have an agreement! I will call the police on his behalf! Do not go any further!” Too cliche to be true, she continued her threats and I laid into her a little on my way to the beach. This was stupid of me because what if her husband was a cop? Also, it was gross of me to flash out in front of Cleo. The husband finally did come out onto the balcony above, a guy even scrawnier than me. He shouted at me a little but I could tell it was out of loyalty to his wife and that otherwise his heart wasn’t really in it. When he too mentioned the police, I gave him the finger. “Take Karen inside,” I prescribed, still waking.
Glancing back at Cleo again, now about 30 feet behind me, I gave up and walked back to her, and we went and ate dinner in our room.
The next day I explained to her that what she had seen was a bunch of entitled white people arguing with each other over something they all felt entitled to, her dad included. “Even when you are right,” I said, “that is no way to act.”
2. Your Fucking Ass
My first sunrise fishing felt like a nightmare. I pulled my tiny aluminum boat past the massive #LegalHookers boat with its giant Trump 2020 flag, and rode the smooth, beautiful water out to the floating oyster cages that clean the water, and attract bait that attracts predator fish. I’d been told the cages boasted big trout, but for a half hour I fed them live shrimp (.25cents apiece! Like pumping quarters into a slot machine) without putting any fish in the boat. Soon, three white guys pulled up in an expensive boat and anchored about 50 feet away. I could have cast my bait onto their boat if I’d tried especially hard. Over the next two hours I watched them catch at least two dozen nice fish, as I worked my ass off to catch just three. How could it be so different just 50 feet away?! It was agonizing; like a nightmare where everything is set up for success and yet you still fail. I marked their spot in my mind — a 100-foot wide circle in the middle of the floating oyster cages — and vowed to come back tomorrow first thing.
The next sunrise, those same three guys and I arrived at the big circle simultaneously. I deferred, and anchored in a far “corner” of the circle, about 40 feet away from them, giving them a good 90% of the radius to fish. I would only cast in my small corner, and pointedly leave the rest to them. Still, soon, the youngest of the three men called out to me, “You’re a little close to us. Do you think you could move? Sorry about that.” At least he was polite with his entitlement.
I nodded to him, apologized, and without starting my engine moved my entitlement another 10 or 15 feet away, at least as far away as they had been yesterday when they pulled up on me. The men seemed satisfied, now with 95% of their spot to themselves — until I started catching fish. I hadn’t seen them catch one yet, by the time I’d caught two big, beautiful speckled trout. From the corner of my eye I noticed the two older men start casting their hooks nearer and nearer to my boat, clearly trying to unnerve me, or make me complain. Finally, when I caught my third trout, the oldest white man shouted, “You’re right in my fishing lane! You need to move!”
“I am pretty far away, and I am just casting into this one little area,” the entitled white man in my boat responded. “I thought I was being polite.”
“Move your fucking ass!” the old man shouted at me across the calm, pretty water. His red face gave a big huff as he cast extra-hard, so that the lure landed almost on my bow. “If I can cast into your boat, you are too fucking close! I will fucking come over there if you don’t MOVE!”
Still inwardly embarrassed about my entitled row with Karen last night and so no longer feeling particular entitled, I grabbed my anchor line and pulled myself forward another 10 feet, then sat down with my back to them and threw my shrimp in the opposite direction. Suddenly, I hear dangling treble hooks sail low over my shoulder, and a lure lands on the rope at my feet. He could have jerked the lure back and taken my eyes out, or hooked my lip fish-like. “OK! WAIT! WAIT! DON’T HOOK ME!” I shouted over my shoulder. My hands quaked a bit as I unhooked his lure and tossed it back into the water. I heard him curse me as I started my engine and moved another 20 feet away, where they couldn’t possibly be bothered.
I expected a repeat of yesterday, with me sitting still and silent, losing bait while watching them murder the trout. But my new spot turned out to be even better than theirs. Over two hours, they watched me catch twice as many big, fat trout as the three of them caught in their precious spot, combined.
File that too under: A bunch of entitled white people arguing with each other.
3. It’s Him
All day I’d felt like a bit of a chump for running off to Grand Isle and not staying in New Orleans to help protest the murder of George Flloyd at the hands of police. I thought of this yet again when, at about midnight, a Black couple in their 30s stepped to me on the dock behind the hotel, where I was tying up my bait bucket full of finger mullet. “Have you been here all night?” the man asked me.
“No! That’s him!” the woman interrupted, pointing at me.
“That’s him?!” the man shouted, glaring at me.
“Whoah, whoah, I am not him,” I assured them. “I am here from out of town, and spent the day fishing, and am tying my bait bucket up and I am going back to my hotel room with my daughter.”
“This lady was just raped in this cabin right here!” he told me.
This already did not make sense to me. This lady? And what if they suddenly decide I am the guy, while I’m out here on the dock alone with them at night?
“Yeah, this lady came out this cabin just now,” he continued, giving me the strange impression he didn’t know the victim, “and she had nothing but semen running down her leg!” He repeated this detail several times as we spoke about the confusing incident, from which I attempted to distance myself. They didn’t seem…genuinely upset. Or something. Something felt off about their emotional tone as they asked which room I stayed in, and was I sure I wasn’t the rapist, and other questions that only heightened my subtle fear. Finally the guy said, “My truck battery died. Any way you could give me a jump?”
Wanting to be there for my fellow man, especially two Black people in this day and age, I agreed to help. I hopped in my Honda Pilot. As I backed toward his truck though, I noticed a giant, empty bottle of vodka on its hood. Taking this final red flag to heart, I rolled down my window, “Let me real quick go and check on my daughter first?”
He nodded, and I took off, forever.
Or I thought: The next morning I was surprised to find the same couple sitting at a picnic bench beneath my room, waiting to speak with police. The Spanish-speaking hotel manager rolled her eyes and whispered to me, “I don’t think anything really happened. But the police are going to want to talk to you too, since they have your car on camera, coming and going from that back cabin last night.”
After speaking to the couple though, the officer left with no further questions for anyone else.
Not sure what to file that under.