How's Bayou? Getting things straight, gay or in flagrante
Sometimes the light bulb just doesn't go on.
More than a decade ago, a young woman employee at Madewood came to me and announced with gravity, "My husband won't let me work here with the new guy."
Mark, who was helping out on weekends, was an outdoor type, sporting multi-color woolen socks with high-top leather tie-up shoes, even in the heat of summer. With his trim red beard, you could have mistaken him for the Brawny paper-towel guy.
"Why?" I asked.
"When I told him Mark was always in the office with me, he said that was it. I have to give you my resignation."
"But what about Andrew?" I asked, referring to the current manager who lived in the cottage behind the house. "You work with him, and he's a man, too."
"He's OK because he never comes up here; he just calls from his house and tells us what to do."
At that time, I was spending five days a week at Dixie Art, then located in the Julia Street building that now houses the Louisiana Children's Museum, and I was shocked to learn that the manager apparently never showed his face while I was away.
"Tell your husband he doesn't have anything to worry about. I can promise you that Mark isn't interested in you."
"How do you know that?" she demanded.
"Let's just say that Mark isn't interested in any woman," I stressed, thinking my message would be clear.
"I don't believe that."
I went to find Mark and tell him that she was still insisting she wasn't safe around him.
"All right," he replied, "Let me have a go at it."
He strode briskly into the ballroom where the woman was waiting and repeated my claim that he wasn't interested in her or any other woman.
"I don't believe you.'
"For Christ sake, woman, I'm gay!" I heard him shout at her.
Her resignation was swift, and she had left the property before Mark could call his boyfriend and relate with glee the absurd conversation.
But there was more to come. How could I tolerate a manager who never showed his face? With a great show of compassion, I told him he had to go.
And as I gave him a hug to show that there were no hard feelings, I heard the frames of his glasses, suspended around his neck, go crack.
So Mark ended up as manager-in-training, and we had the good fortune to have our friend Ron Jones, former managing director of Claridge's Hotel in London, and his wife, Eve, on hand to train him.
We also had to replace the dearly-departed other woman, and hired a voluptuous cousin of another staff member. Soon on, Mark was looking for her one evening, as she was nowhere to be found, and he desperately needed help in the kitchen.
He noticed the police car in the yard, but that would have to wait. As he searched the house, he heard a muffled noise in our bedroom, the door being open -- and there, on the bed, was the new hire with a deputy leaning over her.
It was a beautiful four-poster bed, sporting elaborately-carved mahogany pineapples, an international symbol of hospitality that offered silent, ironic commentary on the activities in progress.
Hovering somewhere between shock and laughter, Mark cupped his hands over his mouth and ran for Ron, who charged in and imperiously -- after all, he was accustomed to hosting luncheons for Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth -- demanded that the deputy leave immediately and suggested that the lady would need to button up and freshen up to serve dinner, after which she should leave the grounds and never return.
The deputy mumbled something about not charging the employee with any crime, at which point everyone dissolved into laughter and rushed to the comparative safety of the kitchen, where we chuckle to this day whenever we carve a pineapple.
Sometimes, you can be too hospitable.
How's Bayou? the secrets of remaining sane while running an upscale B&B on Bayou Lafourche, is written weekly by Keith Marshall, a former Rhodes Scholar and graduate of Yale and Oxford universities who now juggles his time between Dixie Art Supplies in New Orleans and Madewood Plantation House in Napoleonville.
How’s Bayou? the secrets of remaining sane while running an upscale B&B on Bayou Lafourche, is written weekly for NolaVie by Keith Marshall, a former Rhodes Scholar and graduate of Yale and Oxford universities who now runs Madewood Plantation House in Napoleonville.