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To his right, three burly contractors were amusing themselves by showing one another photographs on their cellphones. The only unattached woman in earshot was the bartender, Tara -- who, Badon noted grimly, was his cousin.
He bought her drinks anyway, and tried to look at the bright side. Nearly three months after Hurricane Katrina barreled into New Orleans, life has flowed back into the streets of this city -- but in certain areas, it is a life noticeably bereft of women. City officials guess that New Orleans now has a population ofduring the day and 75, at night, after the commuters have left. Sally Forman, Mayor C. The male-to-female ratio is most obvious in the French Quarter, where workers come to blow off steam in the evenings, but it crosses into other areas.
Professional men -- their wives and children settled elsewhere until the end of the school semester -- gather in threes and fours at local restaurants. On Friday afternoons, they leave by bus or car or airplane, staying outside the city just long enough to get a taste of family life. Sociologist Carl Bankston III said the skew toward a male population was probably temporary, but the faster it changed, the better for the city.
Neither of them are a stable basis for establishing a long-term community. Brad Giacona, his hair gelled and his beard shaved into a chin strap, gazed from behind the bar at the Big Easy Daiquiri. Plastic cups stood in rows beside him. It had been a quiet afternoon. In the days after the storm, husbands and wives were forced to separate. Mothers, typically, moved to cities where they had family and friends, and where children could enroll in school. Fathers stayed in New Orleans, salvaging businesses and sorting through the wreckage.
For Kenny Rubenstein, 38, whose family owns a downtown clothing store, it has meant coming home every night to a house so utterly quiet that he hears the sounds of floorboards. His wife and three children have been living in Dallas since shortly after the storm.
The other night, he heard a sound so loud that he got up to investigate: It was a squirrel, running across the roof. There are other oddities. Steve Timm, 49, whose wife evacuated to Colorado with their teenage son, recalls walking into a laundromat during the period after the storm and finding himself surrounded by men. The boy was taller, heavier. Sometimes the distance between New Orleans and anywhere else seemed unfathomable, said Nancy Timm. Over the phone, Steve would describe the panorama of destruction.
On the other end of the line, she would listen. McGehee School. January could bring a wave of decisions for families as the first post-Katrina semester ends. The singles scene, however, is likely to stay off-kilter for a long time.
From the corner of Bourbon Street and Orleans Avenue, where he is a doorman at the Tropical Isle, James Heffernan has made a study of the male-to-female ratio. Two weeks ago, he counted 6 to 1; since then it has become less pronounced. Still, during a five-minute period Friday night, 86 men walked by -- men wearing hats made out of balloons, men in windbreakers with cellphones clipped to their belts, men drinking out of green plastic cups shaped like space aliens, men in government-issue camouflage. The of women who walked by: It has proved a satisfying period for Renee Charpentier, a year-old with long, straight, honey-blond hair.
Charpentier said that after spending more than two months in Houma, she returned to New Orleans to find that the social life had been transformed, and not just by the abundance of single men. Suddenly, they want to talk for hours. Charpentier said she is going out with five men. All five are New Orleanians she knew before the storm; only afterward did the friendships turn the corner into romances. Before Hurricane Katrina, the city of about half a million people had the 10th-lowest male-to-female ratio of any large American city, with females for every males, according to the U.
A high incarceration rate and lower life expectancy extracted males from the population, said Bankston, the Tulane sociologist. Half of the households with children were headed by women. It Lonely New Orleans Louisiana single ladies, Bankston said, too early to guess whether the gender ratio will continue to be skewed, or how it will affect society here.
A young, majority-male population tends to result in a higher crime rate; at the same time, he said, a high rate of employment -- certainly the case in New Orleans now -- is associated with a lower crime rate.
Day and his companion, both Federal Emergency Management Agency inspectors, had slipped their badges inside their shirts in preparation for a night on the town, but now they looked around at a bar full of other men. No big deal, said Day, whose most recent long-term job was in Homer, Alaska.
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