Happy birthday to my best and oldest (in a good way) friend, Nick. We’ve been pals since we met at our high school’s 1962 auditions for Macbeth, an auspicious beginning. Here we are almost 30 years later in pre-Katrina New Orleans. Nick had been teaching in nearby Jackson, Mississippi, and I’d always wanted to visit NOLA, so we met up there. (Actually we met up at lunchtime in a popular little restaurant run by some local newcomer named Emeril, who sat us at the bar that overlooked the kitchen; he put plates in front of us and kept giving us little tastings of things he was cooking for others. Why the special treatment? I suspect because our luncheon companion was a woman, well, in his good graces at the time.) We had a great long weekend, visiting the Irish Channel, the Garden District, the French Quarter, of course, and every single Tennessee Williams reference point I could think of. We even went to a gospel concert at Tulane and out for soul food afterwards with some local friends of friends. Through many years, many trips, our friendship endures and strengthens. And, on this, my favorite of days, Nick becomes two years older than I am...at least until my own birthday three months from now.