If a gentleman of a certain age has a few pops before embarking on a journey up to and across the world’s longest bridge — well, I don’t need to draw you a picture.
When Mandeville Mayor Donald Villere, 63, headed home from New Orleans, he was probably crossing his legs by about mile marker 3 on the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway. By the time he reached the last crossover, he was obliged to have his driver pull in while he answered nature’s call.
For decency’s sake he used the car’s open door as a screen, but could not escape the eagle eye of a cop, who refused a request to cut him some slack. Villere explained that he is up for re-election in a couple of months, but this was by-the-book law enforcement and he was handed a ticket. Causeway manager Carlton Dufrechou was unmoved when Villere called him later that night and early the next morning in an apparent attempt to get it fixed.
The Causeway, at 24 miles, is not, in fact, quite the longest bridge in the world, although the few that are longer span some terra firma. Thus the Causeway has always been billed as the “world’s longest bridge over water.”
Since Villere’s stab at a cover-up may appear more reprehensible than his original offense, it is obvious what we must call this affair. It is “longest bridge over water-gate.”
The original offense was certainly a venial one, for it was largely involuntary. Villere, who was coming from a “social event,” according to press reports, has what he terms “bladder and prostate issues.” As any similarly afflicted geezer will attest, such issues will always make a long stretch of highway sans restrooms — or even the occasional bush — a daunting prospect. The alternative route around the lake might offer more opportunities for a private (or at least a discreet) whiz, but the road to Mandeville is a long one if you go that way.
This is not to palliate public urination, but it is an offense often committed out of pure necessity. Almost every time it will go undetected, because the smart perp will keep an eye out for the cops before reaching for the zipper. Villere, however, was caught red-handed, so he was either too out of it to notice the cop at the crossover, or desperation got the better of him.
He probably just couldn’t hang on another minute, because the presence of the fuzz can scarcely have escaped the attention of Villere’s driver who was subsequently cleared in a sobriety test. If Villere got a tip-off, however, he ignored it.
He was slightly out of it at that. He admitted having been on the sauce and was described in the police report as unsteady on his feet.
Even this undignified scene represented an improvement in the Causeway comportment of Mandeville mayors. Villere’s immediate predecessor, Eddie Price, was evidently plastered when he drove his official SUV through a toll booth barrier in the middle of the night and proceeded south before being greeted by cops at the first crossover. That, of course, is the last one heading north, so this crossover must have some mysterious attraction for misbehaving Mandeville mayors.
It seems unlikely that emergency micturition could become much of a campaign issue, but Villere, as the ticket was being written, asked for a “little help,” according to the police report, because “he was running for re-election.” This did not mean he was looking to pull rank, he later claimed, because he did not reveal to which office he was seeking re-election until the cop asked.
Perhaps it was indeed out of modesty that Villere omitted to identify himself as Mayor of Mandeville, but that virtue is rare among politicians. More likely, Villere figured a Causeway cop could hardly fail to recognize so august a personage as himself.
Dufrechou certainly knew who he was talking to when Villere called to dilate on those prostate and bladder issues. Dufrechou says Villere just asked for help, and did not come right out and ask for the ticket to be torn up, but he hardly needed to spell it out.
Villere should have just accepted the ticket. Now his attempts to fix it have come to light, he’ll get no relief throughout the campaign.
James Gill’s email address is email@example.com.