Tuesday, December 31, 2019

the last book I ever read (The Yellow House: A Memoir by Sarah M. Broom, excerpt eight)

from National Book Award winner The Yellow House: A Memoir by Sarah M. Broom:

By evening, all of us who had traveled to the French Quarter for work from elsewhere wore the day’s labor on our bodies. We could place each other instantly by our uniforms: Napoleon House workers wore all black with white lettering on the breast pocket; women in black dresses with white aprons and scalloped hats were cleaning women at one of the hotels. If you wore a grass-green outfit, the ugliest of them all, you worked at the Monteleone Hotel. Black-and-white-checkered pants like those Michael wore with clog shoes meant you belonged to the kitchen of any one of the restaurants. My uniform was khaki pants, a burgundy cap, and a matching polo shirt with a CC’s emblem.

The malicious New Orleans heat could seem to crawl inside, affecting your brain so that walking felt like fighting air. New Orleans humidity is a mood. To say to someone “It’s humid today” is to comment on the mind-set. The air worsened the closer you came to the Mississippi River and wet you entirely so that by day’s end my hair was zapped of all its sheen and my clothes stuck to the body in all the wrong places. I needed a bathtub by the time I made it to work, so imagine how I looked at the end of the day, for travel home.

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