This morning, I cleared our fence of Mardi Gras beads and packed them neatly into a 12″ x 24″ x 12″ box to give away on craigslist or to recycle (whichever happens first). I shot a picture of the box of beads for the craigslist ad and thought:
Wow! This looks like a box of treasure!
And it is treasure, because we just experienced our very first Mardi Gras and it was nothing like what we imagined it might be. Instead it was amazing.
You see, when we planned to be in New Orleans for the winter, it had not occurred to us that we’d be here for Mardi Gras. When it did finally occur to us, I thought I probably “wouldn’t even go to Mardi Gras” because it’s “really not my scene.” HA! ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! I had no clue how ridiculous of a thing that was to say. There’s no living in Uptown in New Orleans and “not going” to Mardi Gras. That’s like saying “yeah, I know I’m living in Minnesota and it is January, but I don’t think I’m going to go to winter. It’s kind of cold and not really my scene.” You don’t get to “not go to winter” winter is happening. You don’t get to “not go to Mardi Gras.” Mardi Gras is happening.
Mardi Gras is a season, not just an event that happens on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter. You can choose to stay inside while the marching bands and drum lines a block away drown out any productive thought you might have in your head and replace it with do you hear the fun out there??
I mean, you can try…
Part I: The Parades
So you go to the parades. You get your handwarmers and a winter hat, or your tutu and your glowing stuff and you go to the parades.
I wasn’t planning on going to many parades. After all, I’ve been to parades before. I’ve even been in parades before. There’s something you need to understand about Mardi Gras parades. They’re actually fun. I’m sorry, parades in Pittsburgh and Denver, but you’re the reason I generally don’t go to parades. You’re at the wrong time of year when it’s too cold (Homecoming, Thanksgiving, Christmas), or you attract a lot of drunk people (St Patricks Day), and generally the only people participating in the parade are the people who are marching in the parade. Yes, firetrucks are cool. Yes, having candy launched at your face is kind of fun… when you’re five. But do you know what’s even more cool? Do you know what’s even more fun? This:
Part II: The Aftermath
There are a lot of beads strewn about the city right now. In fact, you’ll see a lot of this:
And a lot of this:
And an unfortunate amount of this:
But the city is sleepy right now. In theory, it’s because it is Ash Wednesday and lent has started. But in reality, it’s because today is the first day in the past two weeks that there isn’t a giant party going on. We’re all a little tired. Mike compared celebrating Mardi Gras here in New Orleans to the idea that if you don’t want your kids to smoke cigarettes, you make them smoke a whole pack all at once so they get sick and will never want to smoke. I have to agree with that assessment, almost. We’re pretty partied out. But the difference is, this whole thing was really, really fun.
A friend in Denver just IM’ed me:
hey, how are you? you disappeared into a Mardi Gras festival
My answer is:
You may have noticed that I didn’t mention boobs once in this whole post. Most people you’ll meet in life know that you don’t actually have to show your boobs to get anything. Fortunately for us, the people who missed that memo all like to hang out together on Bourbon Street. We didn’t go to Bourbon Street. We didn’t see — or offer — a single peek. But we did dance. We danced, we cheered, we shouted, we laughed, and we stayed up too late. School night, schmool night. It’s Mardi Gras!
As a final note, I’ll leave you with this photo I took as we walked up to our last parade yesterday, on Fat Tuesday, the official Mardi Gras: