Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Importance of Being Unique

So last week we all blogged our call stories (and Christie wins the biggest laugh for taking her call on the john), but just writing the blog reminded me of all the things that happened when I first started thinking of writing. That moment when I REALLY realized that I had been raised in a different universe. Because you see, Louisiana just isn't normal. Heck, it isn't even close. In fact, I'm pretty sure "normal" is banned in Louisiana. It's Napoleanic law, remember?

Let me give you an example of something different: Last week at work, I was at a staff meeting with the other tech writers and we were talking about people who drink too much which segued into drive-thru liquor sales. One guy told the story of the beer in his hometown that had a drive-thru window so that you could pick up your brew without having to leave your car. Then they asked me if we had something like that in Louisiana. I said "Yeah, but in Louisiana, you can get the DRINKS in the drive-thru." And I swear, I'm not making it up. The one in my hometown of Sulphur was called the Frosty Factory back when I lived there, and it was a drive-thru for frozen drinks - alcoholic frozen drinks. So if you wanted a magarita, pina colado, or anything else made with alcohol and ice, you could get it at the Frosty Factory. There was a list of sixty different drinks hand painted on two sheets of plywood (that was the menu). Then you pulled forward and gave your order at the window.

Now, some might be wondering if there is an open container law in Lousiana. Well, of course there is. The whole state's not rednecks. But you see, they put LIDS on the drinks - and a strip of tape across the hole (well, they never actually manage to get it over the hole, really, but who's taking pictures). So the Frosty Factory is totally operating within the law...Louisiana style.

Or consider the fact that the drinking age when I was a teen was 18. It changed to 21 shortly after I started college, but I was "grandfathered" in. Apparently, the state didn't feel it was fair to allow me to drink for a year then take it away. Quite frankly, the state didn't want to change the law at all. I'm pretty sure alcohol sales accounts for a large portion of the sales tax revenue in the state, but the federal government was threatening to cut highway funding if they didn't comply, so they complied...as only Louisiana does. You see, even after the change in law, you could still get into a bar at 18. It was then up to the discretion of the bartender whether he wanted to see ID or not.

In my upcoming book, Louisiana law plays a big part in the plot, and I must admit, I caught some flak from readers. I was accused of using something untrue as a plot device (gasp). Horrors! Because that's never happened in fiction, right? And what had everyone up in arms? Was it the secondary character that's a ghost....oh, no, that's not the unrealistic part of the story apparently. The unrealistic part is my married heroine who is unable to get a divorce because she can't locate her disappearing husband to serve him. He's been gone for years.

But you see, in Louisiana, there are two ways to gain a divorce - serve someone or produce a body. Many have probably opted to make number 2 happen when number 1 proved to be a big pain in the rear, but they're probably not going to admit it, and the alligators don't talk.

Last year I read that several towns in Louisiana have banned baggy pants.

So what about your city/state/country - any interesting laws on the books?

Deadly DeLeon

28 comments:

Christie Craig said...

Jana,

LOL! Love the blog. And you are right, Louisiana is unique. And you take after your home state, Jana.

And since my state, Texas, borders Louisiana, I think some of the craziness leaks over.

In my book coming out in November, my editor questioned the fact that my heroine went out and bought a gun.

His inquiry, "But what about the waiting period?"

My reply, "It's Texas. We don't believe in waiting periods, because if you had to wait to get the gun, you might get over being mad enough to kill someone who probably deserves it."

His reply, "I'll have to be careful when I come to Texas."

My response, "You should."

Crime Scene Christie

terrio said...

I love these stories. I grew up in Ohio and didn't get to witness this kind of crazyness until I moved south. But living in Arkansas for seven years was very enlightening.

There was the "silly laws still on the books" things like you can't keep an alligator in your bathtub or walk your mule down mainstreet during the noon hour. Then there was the crazy stuff people would say and do.

I worked in radio and we had a call in trading show every morning. The entire thing was live and we never knew what the caller was going to say until we put them on the air. There was the lady selling Africans (Afghans but that's not how she said it), the guy who wanted to sell a sawed off shotgun (illegal even in AR), the guy who just wanted to curse out whoever it was that stole his underwear from the dryer at the laundromat and my favorite, the guy who had a bull for sale and his winning feature was that the bull was stump broke.

Being a yankee, I had to have that one explained to me. Then I really wished I'd stayed in the dark. *shiver*

Meljprincess said...

Virginia Beach - It is illegal to use profanity on Atlantic Avenue or the boardwalk. It is also unlawful to drive by the same place within 30 minutes on Atlantic Avenue.

Norfolk - Spitting on a sea gull is not tolerated. YES!

Mel K.

terrio said...

Mel - Do you live in Va Beach? I work in Norfolk. Small world! And I heard a few months ago that that swearing one down there isn't actually a law. But aren't those signs hysterical?

Virginia said...

There are several towns and counties that are going totally non-smokeing in the area where I live in KY. They are also not allowed to sell erotic books, mag., or movies in the county.

Keri Ford said...

You can't wear white at your second wedding here in arkansas. Somewhere (Kentucky?) it's illegeal to trip a horse that's racing on the track.

Also, we have those drive-thru liquor stores, too! Both kinds. There's several of the buy the bottle through the window in town, but there's a place about 30 minutes from me where you can get mixed drinks.

And Christie, we don't have waiting times either.

Sandy said...

In Blythe, California it is illegal
to wear cowboy boots unless you have at least one cow.

In Wyoming where I lived for a year you can get ANY drink to go at the drive up window of just about any bar, they don't even bother putting a lid on the mixed drink. Matter of fact, I think the only reason they don't want you to drink and drive is you might hit a bump and spill the whole thing.

Suzan Harden said...

Sometimes it's not the laws themselves, but what people 'think' is the law that's hysterical. I've been counted down in contests for having Texas constables in a novel. (Because you know constables DON'T EXIST in the U.S.)

That story's become such a running joke in the Texas RWA chapters that I'm now having other people repeat the story to me.

Tori Lennox said...

I never realized just how much like Arkansas that Louisiana was its own little world. *g*

Tori Lennox said...

I don't know if it's still on the books but several years ago I cracked up when I learned it was illegal to drive more than 2000 sheep down Hollywood Boulevard. I'd like to see someone try driving 1999! LOL!

Sandra08081998 said...

Cute blog.
I live in the South and my mother lives on the coast of South Carolina. It's not a law, but there is a retirement community where golf carts cannot be driven between 3:00 and 5:00 (during mail delivery) because the mailman's truck was getting hit too often by retirees on golf carts celebrating happy hour early!

Shel said...

While pre-law I did a paper on crazy laws still on the books. There's a town in Illinois with an actual ordinace that bans monsters from entering City limits...

Estella said...

Great post.
Cannot think of any crazy laws where I live

Sean and Anna said...

Here are just a few of the crazy Arizona laws:

Any misdemeanor committed while wearing a red mask is considered a felony.

Donkeys cannot sleep in bathtubs.

It is illegal to manufacture imitation cocaine.

When being attacked by a criminal or burglar, you may only protect yourself with the same weapon that the other person posseses.

It is unlawful to refuse a person a glass of water.

I've lived in AZ for most of my life but I have always wanted to live in the south. We just did the road trip across the country to visit my in laws and that just confirmed my idea. I am more southern by nature- I like the laid back atmosphere. So crazy laws or no, I am retiring( in 20 years) to the south.

Jana DeLeon said...

LOL Christie!!!! At an old job a co-worker of mine based out of the northeast, asked about George Bush - dubya. The presidential election was coming up and he wanted to know what Bush had done for Texas. My reply "we can drive faster and carry guns."

I figured that covered it all, but darn if he didn't want to know about economics. Jeez.

Jana DeLeon said...

LOL terrio!!!! I love the radio stories. What a hoot!

Jana DeLeon said...

Mel - spitting on a seagull? Oh now, that's priceless!

Jana DeLeon said...

virginia - yes, we have several towns in my area that are non-smoking also - at least inside public places. I think places like hotels, etc. still have designated smoking areas. My company has a smoking porch. I don't smoke, but I stand while other people do - anything to get a break right?

Jana DeLeon said...

OMG keri - no white on your second wedding????? what do you wear to the third or fourth? And tripping a horse....I guess someone had to do it or there wouldn't be a law, right? Way scary.

Jana DeLeon said...

Sandy - I wish we had the cowboy boot rule here in Dallas. All those shit-kickers would have to change wardrobes...or get a cow. That is too funny!

Jana DeLeon said...

Suzan - don't even get me started on contest comments. I've had some doozies in my day. Like "check your facts. I'm pretty sure you can get fingerprints off of a wet surface." Now, we're talking as in the opening scene of RUMBLE ON THE BAYOU. Where the wet surface in question is a backpack hanging out of a stoned alligators mouth floating in a swimming pool. Uh, someone call Michael Baden. Ha.

Jana DeLeon said...

tori - based on what I've read on the blog today, I think you might be right. Arkansas does sound a bit like Louisiana!

Jana DeLeon said...

Sandra - having worked in senior housing for five years, I sorta get that one. :)

Jana DeLeon said...

shel - hmmmmmmmm, but then you'd have to define monster. I figure murderers, rapists and child molestors fit that bill nicely. But I guess they were talking about Dracula?????

Jana DeLeon said...

estella - Then you must not be breaking any of them. :)

Jana DeLeon said...

Sean/anna - Wow! That's some great ones. And I guess me and my donkey won't be moving to your neck of the woods. LOL

Gemma Halliday said...

Too freakin funny! K, my fav weird Cali law: in L.A. toads may not be licked. Seriously, it's on the books.

Jenyfer Matthews said...

Jana,
You and I must be about the same age because I grew up in Louisiana and was also "grandfathered" in on the drinking age law - phew! LSU wouldn't have been the same otherwise :)

And I really miss the drive-thru daiquiri shops!!! I took my husband to one once and he was absolutely stumped by having too many choices!