my jaundiced eye

the absurdities of life

Category: mardi gras season

MJE mardi gras

MG 2015 pic  2:19:15

There is one exception to MJE’s ‘hate the holidays’ rule and that is Mardi Gras, well not the actual day but its spirit of irreverence and disdain for the mind numbing conventions of everyday life

As in the past, our three ring Mardi Gras circus, Apricot, Seymour and of course Decibelle, arrived on Thursday night before MG and we rocked the parade routes nonstop until Sunday dinner time. Their parents, our son (SOB) and his long suffering wife (LSW) were both sick, SOB with a ticklish cough (“persistent and extremely debilitating, possibly life-threatening”) and LSW down for the count with a full blown cold. (“Thanks for coming!” bring the measles next time) Of course she got barely a mention as the drama of the ticklish cough was duking it out with Decibelle’s fortissimo for everyone’s attention.

The OB&C and I had already assembled the parade essentials: boatloads of iced beer, wine, bloody marys and margaritas, go cups, and unhealthy snacks and sweets. Prioritizing whose needs are foremost is key to success at Mardi Gras (and life) and obviously MJE’s are #1. But being mindful of the under-aged amongst us who require non-ethyl alcohol-related hydration I did squeeze in one bottle of water for the young folk to share. And of course we had Big Bertha, our rickety relic of a wooden parade ladder with child seat atop. If we showed up in California with that death trap we’d have child protective services on us faster than you can click a pic with your cell phone and tweet #childendangerment.

Transporting all of this stuff involves black op worthy maneuvers: pre-dawn reconnoitering of the the parade route, locating and commandeering a suitable site, unloading gear, securing it with yards of heavy chain and returning to base camp hoping that any of it will still be there when you return. Generally Mardi Gras manners prevail, at least in the 1 percenter viewing venues we favor. Ladders and assorted paraphernalia are left unattended for hours and remain largely unmolested (although one year the OB&C had his crappy little conference freebie cooler lifted from in front of the port-o-let while he was briefly indisposed, and he has never forgotten it). People give beads and other junk they’ve caught to little kids nearby (gee thanks, our bead midden at home is only eight feet high and we’re hoping it gets huge enough to land a spot on the mardi gras episode of “Hoarders”). Locals know it is bad form to show up when the parade starts and stand in front of people who have been wasting hours waiting there and that if two people catch the same pair of beads you call on your better angel and let go first. However, politely maneuvering through the impenetrable maze of plus sized people, chairs, ladders, ice chests, bead bags, wagons etc. that line the parade route makes patrolling the back alleys of Falluja look like a cake walk.

Best of all, Mardi Gras gives everyone full license to pretend for a time to be who they are not. The OB&C and I believe in taking full advantage of that opportunity and consider masking to be a sacred part of Mardi Gras tradition. The SOB et al (Apricot was the exception, keep an eye on that dark horse) on the other hand, apparently have no desire to be anything but what they are and dressed up like a yuppie family from Atlanta.

twelfth night, the lord of misrule and the art of the “get up”

twelfth night 3

Twelfth night, January 6, is traditionally when the guilt and anxiety-provoking season celebrating the birth of the lord of peace ends and the freewheeling, rowdy, drunken reign of the lord of misrule begins, culminating in the bacchanalia of mardi gras. But then, dontcha know the very next day, Ash Wednesday the old wet blanket’s back and we all have to feel really guilty about how much fun we’ve been having without him around and repent, hard time. And lent is even longer than the xmas season, or at least it used to be, until walmart decided it starts the day after the 4th of July.

Once again we can thank those fab pagans for another christian custom. They celebrated 12th night (or thereabouts) too except they called it Saturnalia, which is what I would have named my first child if I’d known then what I know now. And in various cultures through the ages it has been ruled by the aforementioned LOM, or in France “le prince des sots” (of which I am particularly fond) or the Abbot of Unreason in Scotland (boring). Whatever the moniker, come twelfth night she (okay, maybe he) reigned over the Feast of Fools (which is what I am calling the cassoulet I am making for dinner, for it is truly a fool’s errand, longer and more intense than a 12 step program but with a really good meal at the end). During the rule of the LOM, the proper nature of things are turned on their heads, or kicked in their asses, depending on your point of view. Peasants rule the kings, slaves their masters, etc. and during this period the LOM has the power to command anyone to do anything her fickle mind comes up with.

My fickle mind came up with a bash to celebrate the season and commanded all the guests to create a “get up” for the evening. A “get up” is familiar to anyone from New Orleans. It is not a costume, it is an improvised fanciful sartorial creation. However, most of my dinner guests hail from lands far far away from New Orleans and trying to explain what it meant was nigh on to impossible, like asking Helen Keller to sing an aria from La Traviata. So just as Annie Sullivan, Helen’s teacher, had to start somewhere, I began with goodwill. No not that kind. The goodwill store. So we made a journey over to the land where dreams are born.

There are not words to describe the vast sea of possibilities. Every one funnier than the one before. The other patrons, seeing us sobbing in hysterics underneath the mens’ pants rack probably just took us for employees having a little setback on our road to recovery. In the end we walked out with, among other things, one choir robe, three sets of “drapery sheers”, some furry stuff, a lab coat, a tiny necktie, a pair of men’s white slip-on shoes with a huge gold logo, a couple of appropriately gaudy polyester shirts and a pair of silky maroon double knit leisure pants.

And so the LOM has decreed: Let the “get up” games begin.