Honestly, it's kind of sad that I'm getting too old to remember certain things. It seems like only yesterday that I turned 21. But, actually, that was almost a decade ago. And today I'm not sure if it was seven or eight years ago that I experienced the poopshow that is Mardi Gras. The more I think about it, the more it had to be 2002, my first year in grad school. I wouldn't bet any money on that, though.
I didn't think about Mardi Gras today because of it being Fat Tuesday or anything, though; I started to think about my time in New Orleans when a King Cake (that's one above) appeared in the newsroom today, seemingly out of midair.
I can still remember being in the Big Easy, visiting one of my college friends - who at the time was at Tulane Medical - and him giving a bunch of us pieces of King Cake and talking about how there was a baby inside. I mean, I know I was drunk as crap at the time, but I thought this was the most random thing in the world, and certainly did not believe him.
But, gosh darn it, Dan Arnold was not lying, and, I think, my friend Jacqui ended up being the one who got the baby. Yep, I can remember who got the baby, but not what year this all happened.
I get the whole Christmas connection, but doesn't it seem odd as anything that we eat cakes with plastic babies in them to celebrate the beginning of Lent? And isn't it even more odd that these are popular during Mardi Gras, when the people eating them are bombed and really can't concentrate on whether they're about to choke on a plastic baby that happened to be inside their piece of delicious cake? This all makes sense. Totally. Why wouldn't a plastic baby be inside cake? I'm totally stupid for even asking the question.
I don't really remember much about my time at Mardi Gras. I know I drank a ton. I know I ate more oysters in one sitting than I have at any other time in my life, and I eat a lot of oysters. I know I enjoyed many a shrimp po' boy. I know I visited Cafe du Monde for beignets a couple times. Did I mention that I drank a lot? I also searched in vain for the Ignatius J. Reilly statue; I desperately wanted my picture taken next to the statue of my favorite literary character. I even collected beads at the ridiculous amounts of parades. And saw boobs at them. I remember feeling like the days were one long parade. I don't like parades. They make me bored. It takes me longer to get bored when boobs are involved, but I still got bored.
My friends Brandon and Shiloh Kinne are actually heading to New Orleans later this week, just in time to experience the remnants of Mardi Gras, which means loads of litter and streets with rivers of vomit, pee, poo and discarded hurricanes. I could only think of a few recommendations for them. The biggest one was to eat tons of oysters. Brandon and Shiloh won't have any problem doing that.
Anyway, that's all I really got for now about Mardi Gras. I don't think I'll ever go again. Oh, sure, I'd enjoy a trip back to the Big Easy, but Mardi Gras is something to do once. It's a drunken, disgusting and altogether forgettable experience. It's something everyone should do once, but not twice, unless you enjoy a week-long hangover and vague recollections of forcing cab drivers to pull over so you can pee and vomit on ATMs. Or unless you want to eat cakes with babies in them.
Even though New Orleans has a well-deserved reputation for wonderful music, sadly the first thing I always think about when the subject comes up is how Soul Asylum frontman Dave Pirner relocated to the Big Easy to record his only solo album, as of now, with local musicians. Here's a performance of a song from that record, which came out around the time I went to Mardi Gras (depending on what year I attended). I wish I could remember such things.