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Travel story.

Someday, I’d love to tell the whole story of my New Orleans trip. A sample of the goodness:

As we strolled away from two tiny houses that housed the Maple Leaf bookstore and its signed fourth-printings of John Kennedy Toole’s Pulitzer-Prize winning novel, A Confederacy of Dunces, Father Samway launched into a story about Mrs. Toole, who had so famously imposed upon Walker Percy to read the manuscript written by her son. “Mrs. Toole used to have these signing parties.” (This was after Toole’s suicide, and Samway told another, less amusing story about that…) “She would wear her best pink chiffon, and she would always have a piano, and she would sing. She was an elocutionist. So she was having one of these parties at Maple Leaf, and Walker was sitting out in the courtyard, and at one point she stopped and said, ‘Dr. Percy, you’re not listening.’ Then she addressed everyone there. ‘As you know, Dr. Percy was instrumental in the discovery of my son, the genius’ – she always referred to him that way, as if ‘the genius’ was the last part of his name. So then she said, ‘I will now sing Dr. Percy’s favorite song.’ Walker was amazed. He turned to me and said, ‘I can’t wait to find out what my favorite song is.’ And do you know what she sang? Zip-a-dee-doo-dah.”

How utterly perfect. The man who wrote The Moviegoer, who laid a stethoscope on the sagging chest of the South and sought to untangle the symptoms of its systemic race troubles (and the the patient’s attendant compensations), now being linked up with the theme song from a Disney movie, the one Disney movie that, thanks to its racial hamhandedness, has never been released on DVD. We really don’t get to write our own epitaphs.

And speaking of epitaphs: when, the next morning, after Lauds in the St. Joseph’s Abbey church and a stroll into the recesses of the Abbey cemetery, we found ourselves standing before Percy’s leaf-strewn grave under a clean blue sky – well, how could we not follow Potter’s inspired suggestion that we sing Dr. Percy’s favorite song? ‘Round and ’round we marched, the three of us, jazz-hands waving, voices ringing: “Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay/ My oh my, what a wonderful day…” All the way through, and then down on one knee for the final note, like a short-staffed barbershop quartet. Silly, sure, but not, I think, unfitting. We were paying homage to a satirist, the man who gave us Father Kev Kevin at the Love Clinic, reading Commonweal as he sat at his console of vaginal indicators. Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, indeed.


  1. Dorian Speed says


    It is on DVD, actually, but only with Korean subtitles.

    Long story.

  2. Matthew Lickona says


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