Six days a week, you can find them drinking coffee together on a long table in the middle of Teddy’s Diner having a spirited conversation.
There isn’t a specific thing that brought the group, which counts Judge Edward Dufresne, Councilman Shelley Tastet, Assessor Clyde “Rock” Gisclair and Dow emergency director Tab Troxler among its members, together in the first place.
All they know is that the talk of politics, rumors, sports, and most importantly, each other, keep them coming back.
“A lot of people come depending on what’s on the agenda, but most just keep coming back because if they miss a day they become the topic of conversation,” Kenny Gaubert said.
Teddy Gay, the owner of Teddy’s Diner, said most of the men show up “like clockwork” when he opens every morning at 6 a.m., even beating his waitresses to the restaurant.
Something else that happens like clockwork is the bickering and heckling that he overhears.
“They are all very well informed and 99 percent of the group are Republicans while the small minority are Democrats, so there is always a heated debate going on,” Gay said. “They all hang out together even though some of them can’t stand each other.”
Tastet said that health care has been a huge topic recently and that resident Democrat Joe Dufresne gives everyone a hard time.
“To him, the Democrats can do no wrong, so he is always fighting with us about health care and other things,” Tastet said.
For that reason, Joe is considered the loudest of the group. Known as the Dufresne without the dollar sign in front of his name, Joe has been meeting with most of the group for nearly 20 years.
There is a simple reason why.
“Do you hear these guys?” he said. “I get entertained and educated every morning.”
And some of that entertainment comes at the expense of others.
“Cars have been wrapped in plastic and bumpers are sometimes tied to a rail outside the diner,” Gay said. “I’ve thought about selling tickets for people to come watch them just for entertainment.”
That tied bumper usually belongs to Tastet.
“They are always doing it,” he said. “It’s just a bunch of jokesters.”
Members of the group are also chided when they leave early or come late, but when they do arrive, they are greeted with a chorus of welcomes.
At a recent gathering, talk of a parish town hall meeting dominated much of the conversation. But since the group consists of members from every walk of life, the talk sling shots from one topic to the other in rapid fire bursts.
“We always talk about local politics and there are a few guys who rib me and say they are going to run against me,” Tastet said. “But other than politics, what we discuss depends on the time of the year.
“When it’s hunting or fishing season, there are people who only talk about that. When it’s football season, that’s what we talk about.”
The talk also depends a lot on who is there. Anywhere from eight to 20 men show up each morning.
You can count on Clay Faucheux, Gary Cazenave, Jan Troxler, Craig Petit, Melvin Champagne, Lenny Ledoux, George Rome, Rene Champagne, Kevin Robicheaux and Tastet occupying that middle table every morning.
And since Ledoux is almost always there, the group gets their fair share of laughter.
“He is constantly making everyone laugh,” Tastet said. “Some of the things he does I know you can’t print, but he has us cracking up all morning.”
Though the group now meets at Teddy’s, they used to gather at Esperanza’s until it closed down. Gay is glad they made that decision.
“Because they are all in the know, I usually hear things a week before everybody else does,” he said.
Gay also said the set up resembles a talk show because of the parish “celebrities,” like Parish President V.J. St. Pierre, who stop by every once in a while.
“The other day Judge Lauren Lemmon came by and we always have some interesting guests,” he said. “This group is just so great because they come from all walks of life and they just have so much fun together.”