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How's Bayou? Taaka & Toilet Tattoos

We called it The Frat Trifecta, The Triple Crown Royal. We'd signed Madewood up for three fraternity parties in two weeks. Were we crazy, or just willing to do anything to pay the bills?

Madewood had hosted the largest group six times before, so we knew what to expect: Late hours, massive cleanup the following day, lost purses and cell phones, a stash or two of booze in the bushes. We added a third Assumption Parish deputy this year after an excited brother careened into a china cabinet last year.

That was just after someone's date, when found in the holly hedge on the front lawn with her escort and told that it was dangerous so near the bayou -- she might accidentally sit down on a snake -- calmly replied, "That's exactly what I came out here to do."

The second fraternity's members and guests were perfect ladies and gentlemen during their afternoon soirée several years ago. With the men in tuxedos and dates in formal dresses, it was as if Spring Fiesta had returned to the grounds of Madewood. The men spent the afternoon bowing to their dates, which probably doesn't happen a lot on campus.

The third group was the new jewel in the crown. They planned a sit-down dinner and dance in the ballroom, to end before the clock struck 10. An early night for us, time to rest before the second group arrived the next afternoon.

'The Bold Look,'  bayou style

'The Bold Look,' bayou style

We didn't even have to break a sweat as we trotted to the finish lines of the first two events. More like dressage.

The final, 150-person event demands that we perform like seasoned jockeys. From 8:30 to 1 a.m., we're constantly on our feet, from the buffet in the mansion, through two thriving bars on the grounds, to the wrap-up of the band outside the Charlet House -- who'd played at Auburn the night before. This was the plucky seven-year-itch time for the band, who've played for the event every year at Madewood. They were really into it, part of the family.

When a fraternity brother, clutching his fourth or fifth drink in hand, slings his free arm around your shoulder and stares pointedly into your eyes, you know something's up.

The band had reached a crescendo, and the patio was crowded with dancers, all very much into the sound.

"You the owner of this place?" An obvious question to the only person conservatively dressed and clearly eligible for AARP membership.

"OK. So, you see, my thing is, when I'm dancing, I like to whip off my shirt. You think that would be OK?"

While I appreciated his earnest request for approval in advance of the spectacle, I voiced concern that others might be emboldened to remove their shirts as well. And what about blouses? That wouldn't be so good.

"No, just me. I can promise you. It's special."

Anxious to have the embracing arm removed and the eyes diverted, I broke down and nodded approval.

"But let's just pretend this conversation never took place," I added under my breath.

In the past, dates have decorated immense plastic mugs holding vast amounts of liquid. The refrain throughout the evening was, "Just fill it with Crown and a splash of Coke." Observant though we are, no one had noticed the absence of mugs this year.

I asked a lithe lady in a glittery, napkin-sized shift about this. Mugs? -- her stare of disbelief seemed to imply -- that's so 2012.

But policies have repercussions: No refillable mugs meant we'd torn through almost all 800 plastic cups we had in stock. And tastes seemed to be expanding. We were almost out of vodka as well.

Half an hour later, at 11:30, I stood in one of just two open checkout lines at the Thibodaux Walmart, 20 people in front of me, an equal number behind.

For at least 15 minutes, I stared into the cart in front of me, intrigued with its contents, which included a large Toilet Tattoo -- "The only way to crown your throne," the seat-sized package proclaimed in elegant script.

So much for The Bold Look of Kohler. What we need on the bayou is more humor on our lids.

As the new proud owners of the Tattoo were checking out, the husband suddenly exclaimed to the hapless cashier, "Hey, I didn't want the extended two-year warranty." (On something other than the Tattoo, I assumed.) "You have to take off the three dollars you charged me for that."

"I'll have to call a supervisor," she relied.

That was it. "I'll give you the three dollars," I cried.


In a sea of flip-flops, bee-bops and halter tops, I was the only person in coat and tie. With 180 plastic cups. Three large packs of disposable "cutlery quality" forks. Four gallons of vodka. In comparison, a large Toilet Tattoo and an undefined, well-insured something-or-other seemed like a normal purchase.

All eyes were on me. My donation was declined, no supervisor called, and the couple scurried out the door. Catastrophe averted.

"Sell a lot of those Toilet Tattoos?" I casually asked the cashier as I placed my stash on the counter.

"Not too many. People around here just stick decals of alligators or crawfish on the lids," she replied.

Suddenly, sitting on a snake on Madewood's lawn didn't seem odd at all.

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.

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.