The Last Walgreen’s Special

Friday offered an unexpected opportunity for a day-cation in the French Quarter.  During a break from a Continuing Legal Education seminar held at a Hyatt Hotel, I skipped out for lunch and pretended I was a tourist.  Well, not really a tourist.  A tourist would not have known what a Walgreen’s Special at Antoine’s is!  Much to my surprise, the waiter didn’t know either.  Suddenly, I felt like a relic.  When I was married to Frank B. Williams, if we forgot to order the Baked Alaska in advance, we would order Walgreen’s Specials which were meringue shells filled with ice cream smothered in chocolate sauce and sprinkled with slivered toasted almonds.  Of course, that was years ago.  But on this glorious sunny Spring Friday while sitting at the Hermes Bar, after I had polished off a small plate of souffle potatoes and a large plate of oysters Rockefeller, I asked for a Walgreen’s Special and the waiter responded with a look of total confusion.  When did Antoine’s stop serving that off-the-menu dessert?  I felt like an era had just passed, a door closed, a chapter ended.  The individual Baked Alaska dessert that replaced it was some comfort but not the same.  Still, Frank’s picture as a young boy in his frilly page uniform and tights was on the wall where it seems it has always been.  The dining room was full of memories.  And the festive atmosphere of the French Quarter was intoxicating.  I skipped a seminar course that would have presumably instructed me on how to behave myself in a deposition.  I strolled down Royal Street and bought a hat.  I overtipped the street musicians.  And I remembered how much fun it used to be to eat Walgreen’s Specials at Antoine’s with FBW.

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