“I have an Igor’s story for you.”
This was from a longtime reader named David Locklear, who had asked to interview me for his upcoming podcast. Naturally I agreed — I do like to go on about myself. And anytime someone tells me they have an Igor’s story, I feel obligated to pull up a chair.
Locklear had done his research, and found out that I worked for many years at that 24-hour bar, lounge, game room, laundromat and grill, a bastion on St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans for decades.
He had been there before, he said, on a trip to the city. He and his friends were exploring some of the Garden District graveyards after midnight, those raised crypts forming what New Orleanians call the Cities of the Dead. Just before dawn they got caught in a ferocious Louisiana downpour and ran for the streetcar line, where Locklear says they saw the lights of Igor’s beckon from across the thoroughfare. A laundromat where we can dry our clothes! he remembers thinking. He and his friends, he said, felt like it had been placed there just for them, a New Orleans miracle. And they hung out for hours, he remembered, making friends with the bartender while their clothes dried.
“What year was this?” I asked.
“That was probably me,” I said. “I worked from 2 a.m. until 10 a.m. most nights from 1995-2000.”
“Nah,” he said. “This guy had kinda long hair and a goatee or something.”
“Yeah,” I said. “That sounds like me.”
In 1998 I was 28 years old. I met the woman who would become my wife that year, in that very bar; it would be two years before we started having kids and moved to Greensboro. I was beefier then, perhaps 25 pounds heavier than I am now — I drank a lot, and ate most of my meals in great restaurants. Plus, I worked the graveyard shift at a dive bar; I had to be big enough, at least, to push people out the door or wrap them up and carry them out. And everyone had a goatee in 1998.
Locklear still wasn’t quite convinced. But there was a photograph of the bartender, he said, taken that morning on a film camera, and that a print of it existed somewhere in his records. He said he would take a look.
He got back to me later that day in an email:
“Holy fucking nostalgia, Batman! I found the picture, and it’s definitely you. What a trip….”
And there I was, smirking at myself from across the bar, an Igor’s story that took nearly 25 years to tell.