15. Mardi Gras, i.e. Carnival
It’s a wonderful thing! Locals genuinely love it. Here’s how you can, too
16. Strangers will speak to you
Do not be alarmed or recoil in horror -- they’re not obsessed with you, that’s just part of life down here. You’ll probably learn a lot about their sex life, literature preferences, prosthetic limbs, prison terms, and so on, and you’ll part as friends.
17. The term WHO DAT! is a statement
Hence the lack of a question mark. If somebody shouts WHO DAT! in your direction, there are only two acceptable responses: “WHO DAT!” and “Yeah you rite!!!” The NFL tried to claim a trademark on “WHO DAT!” not long ago. New Orleans was not pleased. The NFL didn’t win.
18. We genuinely love to dance
Grannies dance. Kids dance. Dentists and plumbers and tax attorneys dance. Even the local police dance
. When you go to see a show in NOLA, feel free to move and not just stand there like a terrified corpse.
19. The people who live here are, you know... people
We have normal lives, jobs, children, mortgages, professional ambitions, etc. Our home just happens to be slightly (or drastically) more fun and bizarre than yours.
20. There is a New Orleans accent... it’s just not what you think it is
Not all New Orleanians have a thick accent, and some natives might not have much of one at all. But the real New Orleans accent has been so mangled and misrepresented in various media (we’re looking your way, Kevin Costner in J.F.K.
), people are often unprepared for the weird, wonderful, Brooklyn-by-the-way-of-the-Mississippi-Delta way many of us actually speak. This is called the “yat” accent, as in “Where y’at?” which is a common greeting here. It sounds like this
21. New Orleans is NOT the South
NOLA may be located geographically
in the southern part of the United States... but It’s essentially a banana republic within the rest of Louisiana. Or, as one local chef once put it, “a northern annexation of Haiti.”
22. This town smells
Depending on where you are (or “where y’at,” rather) and what time of year it is, New Orleans might smell like horse manure, cigarettes, urine, dead fish, marijuana, vomit, diesel fumes, fried chicken, Confederate jasmine, old wood, coffee, Angel’s Trumpet flowers, mown grass, mossy trees, and sweet olive.