Into the Madness: Mardi Gras 2011 begins

She Said:

‘When are you going to get the hell out of this God-forsaken shit-hole of a town?’

Getting sideways at Krewe of Cork

I bequeath to you an excerpt from a conversation had with my boss two weeks ago.  It’s like Groundhog Day each time we discuss my interest in a move to Houston so we can ‘grow the business.’  Those who know me just a little can imagine how much the whole ‘New Orleans is a shithole’ angle incentivizes me.  Kinda like telling a parent her kid is ugly. But there are times in life when you have to throw in the towel on an issue and agree to disagree. I like my job, so perhaps this is one such instance, one in which it is in my  best professional interest to politely decline rather than try and yet again defend NOLA culture  versus that of Houston.  (Yes, we truly have had this conversation and it went something like…’New Orleans has Jazz Fest and Mardi Gras and Houston has..?’)  I digress here, but seriously?

I’ve stewed on this comment for the past two weeks until I had that a-ha moment this morning while sipping my coffee and rehashing the events of the past 96 or so hours.  Thursday we were fortunate enough to be invited to a party for the Krewe of Cork on the top of the Jax Brewery.  It was absolutely perfect weather and the view over the entire Vieux Carre was surreal.  From up on the sixth floor it was the perfect representation of the calm before the NOLA Mardi Gras storm.  He Said and I thought long and hard about Vaughn’s to catch a little Kermit, but decided to be semi-responsible and work on my costume before getting a fairly early night. After all, Friday brings good fun.

Friday morning we strolled through the Quarter in search of breakfast and ran into a parade on the way back.  It’s 9:00 am and we find ourselves amidst the practice parade for the Irish Channel Saint Patrick’s Day group. Where the hell else are you going to find a parade at 9am?  Who else has ‘practice’ parades? We wandered through the green mob on our way home to prep for the big day ahead. And what an epic day it was.  I quickly adopted the mantra ‘do what you wanna’ which became my guidance for the day. So, thanks for that, Rebirth.  There were slight wardrobe malfunctions for both my husband and myself throughout the day: me with minimal undergarment issues, him with significantly elevated mishaps including discovering his pants on the ground multiple times, including on Bourbon Street. So at least we fit in. In retrospect he was wise to go with gym shorts under his costume, preventing us from adding Central Lockup to our laundry list of Friday experiences.

Is that a Salmanazar in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?

We marched and celebrated with Krewe of Cork as guests of the King: 11:00 am and Bloody Marys and Screwdrivers out front of the Court of Two Sisters , followed indoors by the biggest bottle of champagne I have ever laid eyes on plus an entire pirogue of bubbly as lunch was served.  In a day filled with ‘but wait, there’s more!’ moments, we were seated across the table from the owner of one of NOLA’s best wine shops who generously shared one great bottle after another with us.

Shortly after defending my position on not drinking too much early on in the day I somehow found myself fishing my Chanel sunglasses out of the toilet as it sucked them in mid-flush. I ‘m still not sure how that happened, but I had the reflexes of a mother whose child just jumped into the deep-end of the pool and, before the final suction, my hand along with the sunglasses were free.  Close call because I didn’t want to have to imagine the conversation in which I explained to He Said that the toilet stole my Christmas present.  It was at that moment I realized my plan to stay sober was in serious jeopardy.

And so, after four hours of ‘preparation,’ we’re off, down Royal Street and parading through the French Quarter, brass band in tow.  Wine Police to the rescue: at some point I remember my husband stopping and demanding that we go no further until we had more vino.  Oh yeah, that’s what we needed. So, a minor tantrum and a refill later, we are again on our way.  After several photo-ops, many beads thrown and a dance or two with the Queen of the Second Line, the parade revelry ends and we find ourselves at the Royal Sonesta for the after-party.  Seriously, another party?  Well, if you insist.  Four hours, a few bumps and bruises, several more glasses of wine, lots of dancing on the stage and it’s time to call it a night. Looking through those pictures this morning was hysterical;  thank God I can laugh at myself.  After my first but certainly not last experience with the parade day extravaganza, I can say for sure that from now on Thursday nights before Krewe of Cork will be for me akin to Christmas Eve for an 8 year old. A wine-loving 8 year old, that is.

Jennifer Jones, Queen of the Second Line

Saturday was our recovery day and somehow even then we found ourselves at an impromptu courtyard party followed by dinner with our neighbors.  Funny, we had plans for a quiet evening at home on tap.  Carpe diem, my friends!

Sunday was Barkus Brunch, perhaps the first annual for the He Said/She Said household.  Since we are close to the parade route we decided to capitalize on the opportunity to invite a few friends together for mimosa’s and bites.  Brunch turned into afternoon hang-out that transcended the parade itself. ‘it’s just dogs,’ one guest was overheard saying: ‘Screw it. Let’s have another drink.’ And so, before we knew it we found ourselves at 7pm when our guests finally departed having polished off seven bottles of champagne and a double-magnum of wine. I’d say that was a success!  Oh and the good news is that the King of the Krewe of Cork showed, clearly indicating we are welcome back to the parade festivities next year. Whew, I was mildly concerned.  Finish the evening off with a quick jaunt to catch a set of Cristina Perez at BMC and we have ourselves a weekend.

So I find myself sitting on the couch sipping coffee with the husband before work Monday morning reflecting on the weekend.   My ‘do what you wanna’ has now turned into ‘stayin’ alive’ as I try to survive through the workweek and into another late week/weekend throw-down as Mardi Gras arrives with a vengeance.  Am I over it? Hell no, I can’t wait for more.

Suddenly it hits me: I damn near shout to my dear husband… ‘NO. No sir, Mr. Boss.  I WILL NOT MOVE TO HOUSTON.

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3 responses to “Into the Madness: Mardi Gras 2011 begins

  1. Having spent three weeks in a row there on business, I can assure you that no one should voluntarily move to Houston.

  2. To quote a line from a favorite book, localized for this thought, “if I had a brother in prison and a brother in Houston, I’d break my brother out of Houston first…”

  3. BTW, speaking of sideways (clever wine-movie reference, I felt like I was looking at pictures from an old Batman TV show…now I want a drink.

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