Dear America,

I suppose we should introduce ourselves: We're South Louisiana.

We have arrived on your doorstep on short notice and we apologize for
that, but we never were much for waiting around for invitations. We're
not
much on formalities like that.

And we might be staying around your town for a while, enrolling in
your
schools and looking for jobs, so we wanted to tell you a few things
about
us. We know you didn't ask for this and neither did we, so we're just
going to have to make the best of it.

First of all, we thank you. For your money, your water, your food,
your
prayers, your boats and buses and the men and women of your National
Guards, fire departments, hospitals and everyone else who has come to
our rescue.

We're a fiercely proud and independent people, and we don't cotton much
to
outside interference, but we're not ashamed to accept help when we
need
it.

And right now, we need it.

Just don't get carried away. For instance, once we get around to
fishing
again, don't try to tell us what kind of lures work best in your
waters.

We're not going to listen. We're stubborn that way.

You probably already know that we talk funny and listen to strange
music
and eat things you'd probably hire an exterminator to get out of your
yard.

We dance even if there's no radio. We drink at funerals. We talk too
much
and laugh too loud and live too large and, frankly, we're suspicious
of
others who don't.

But we'll try not to judge you while we're in your town.

Everybody loves their home, we know that. But we love South Louisiana
with
a ferocity that borders on the pathological. Sometimes we bury our dead
in
LSU sweatshirts.

Often we don't make sense. You may wonder why, for instance - if we
could
only carry one small bag of belongings with us on our journey to your
state - why in God's name did we bring a pair of shrimp boots?

We can't really explain that. It is what it is.

You've probably heard that many of us stayed behind. As bad as it is,
many
of us cannot fathom a life outside of our border, out in that place we
call Elsewhere.

The only way you could understand that is if you have been there, and
so
many of you have. So you realize that when you strip away all the
craziness and bars and parades and music and architecture and all that
hooey, really, the best thing about where we come from is us.

We are what made this place a national treasure. We're good people.
And
don't be afraid to ask us how to pronounce our names. It happens all
the
time.

When you meet us now and you look into our eyes, you will see the
saddest
story ever told. Our hearts are broken into a thousand pieces.

But don't pity us. We're gonna make it. We're resilient. After all,
we've
been rooting for the Saints for 35 years. That's got to count for
something.

OK, maybe something else you should know is that we make jokes at
inappropriate times.

But what the hell.

And one more thing: In our part of the country, we're used to having
visitors. It's our way of life.

So when all this is over and we move back home, we will repay to you
the
hospitality and generosity of spirit you offer to us in this season of
our
despair.

That is our promise. That is our faith.