Bye bye Bowie

When I was 20 years old, I lived in New Orleans and waited tables at a place in the French Quarter called the Café du Monde. Nearly every tourist who passed through the city stopped there, to sample French doughnuts called beignets covered in powdered sugar, and café au lait mixed with chicory. I worked the shift between midnight and eight in the morning, mostly waiting on drunks, but so avoiding the busloads of sightseers who trooped in during the day and early evening.

          One night a startlingly beautiful man arrived with what was clearly his retinue of three or four other people. They all ordered coffee but eschewed the beignets. The beautiful man — who earlier that night had played a concert in Baton Rouge — was in one of his more conservative periods, his hair straight and parted on the side, dressed in a brown jacket, a plaid shirt and a woven necktie. I realize that this is dating me, but this was back before he got his teeth fixed. The crooked choppers were the only imperfection in an otherwise flawless appearance, and sort of served as a reminder that he was an actual human being and hadn’t arrived from Olympus.

          Now I am really dating myself: in those days, the total charge for all of their coffees was $2.98. After I served them, one of the group gave me $3.00 and told me to keep the change. I never blamed David Bowie for getting my tip stiffed from me. The boor was a member of his entourage; the man who sold the earth couldn’t have been bothered to handle the money.


7 thoughts on “Bye bye Bowie

  1. Andrew Paxman - January 14, 2016

    Nice vignette, David. Perhaps DB wasn’t familiar with the money, having recently fallen to Earth.

  2. pat hirschl - January 15, 2016

    touching story, beautifully told.

  3. Peter Schmidt - January 22, 2016

    Nice story! And just to offer up a Mexico City connection… enjoy these pictures of David Bowie in Mexico City.

  4. David Lida - January 22, 2016

    Many thanks for that, Mr. Schmidt. It’s only occasionally that I post something here that has nothing to do with Mexico City; Bowie’s death inspired me. Thanks to you, readers who were expecting a connection have now got one.

  5. C.M. Mayo - February 4, 2016

    Thanks, David. There was something sparklingly strange and charming about David Bowie. To me it’s all encapsulated in his “Starman in the Sky”– which I actually never listened to, I don’t think, until after his passing. It is on YouTube at this link:

  6. Diane Chavez - February 5, 2016

    This post was amazing. I loved the language you used and the scene you captured here is marvelous.

  7. Mark McDonald - February 26, 2016

    Gracias, Peter Schmidt, for your photos of Mr. Bowie in Mexico City. Today, 26 February, a few appear in The Guardian.

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