By Annabel Servat
Scene: At Harry’s Corner Bar in the French Quarter; a brindle greyhound and her owner come in; both sit on barstools as the man orders. She has a white bib, natural ears, and an engaging smile in her golden brown eyes. She is draped over the stool, leaning on her elbows to get a better view.
I’m here with my poppa and a big group at the window table is talking about how polite the people of New Orleans are, how generous. From their pleasantly surprised reaction, you’d think they’d never seen a dog in a bar before. So, New Orleans, I want to thank you for being your gracious self. I guess it’s not everywhere that a humble dog can join her person to sit down and have a cold beer at the bar on a hot summer day.
When I was a puppy, my person–I can’t call him my master because it’s not that kind of a relationship–we’re companions. Anyway, he taught me manners, just like he taught his children to say “Ma’am,” “Sir,” and “thank you.” Since I can’t speak like that, he taught me to be polite in other ways. But here in the city everyone learns manners early, unless there’s something wrong with them.
As my siblings started to drive when they were teen-agers (they are years older than me), I got to go on longer walks with Poppa. Since I behave well, like a good girl, just like he taught me, I am welcomed pretty much everywhere. My people always told us that courtesy would open doors and was never out of place or style–and they were right.
Now I’m grown up, so I get to go to important places. Every morning we take a long walk to the meeting place where Poppa visits his friends. It’s called Harry’s Corner Bar and I get to sit right there with everyone. Oh, I don’t sit on the dirty floor–I sit on a barstool just like Poppa. If I didn’t have good manners, I bet they wouldn’t even let me in the door. (You notice you never see any cats in here.)
So, New Orleans, my City, I’m so proud to live here where even a dog can be respected and knows to be courteous. Only such a grande dame as yourself could influence so many people (that includes dogs, ‘cause we’re people too). No one wants to disappoint you, so we strive to be as gracious as you are, New Orleans.
Annabel Servat has taught composition and literature at SLU for twenty-five years. Prior to that she has taught most grades in middle and high school. She gardens, cooks, spins yarn for knitting, and cooks even more.