King Cakes are on the shelves!!! This can only mean one thing: Mardi Gras is coming! In about a week, the first parade, Krewe de Vieux, kicks off this season of grimy hands clawing through orange messes of boiled crawfish, magnificent twinkling floats coming down St. Charles, no time for naps between parades, hoodies covered in beads covered in beer covered in cheesy float-thrown medallions. Today is warm and gray, Eeyore-ish, and I am filled with anticipation for the onslaught of Mardi Gras. The Mardislaught, if you will.
Some things overlooked by out-of-towners which are crucial to the understanding of this glorious holiday:
1. It's been years since I've seen boobs at Mardi Gras. This is a kid-friendly holiday, folks. You really have to go down to Bourbon to seek out the breasts, and if you're going down there, you're really missing out on the tradition of Mardi Gras-- of kids perched on ladders along the parade route stealing all the good throws, of mammoth-proportion open-door parties in old St Charles Mansions, of hundred-member marching bands blasting out hip hop harmonies on brass, of kegs lined up along the streetcar line with Krewe-engraved cups galore, of all things free for the taking. Mardi Gras is more about partying with the community than partying with the communi-titties, if you catch my (concealed mid)drift.
2. Nothing happens on Fat Tuesday night. Actually, not true. At midnight on Mardi Gras night, the OPP comes out (prisoners), all chained up, to clean the streets. And they do a good job of it, too. Whatever trash you see Fat Tuesday night is wiped away, etch-a-sketch-style, by morning, like magic. So don't plan to come for Mardi Gras and have a blow out the night before Ash Wednesday. Stay in and repent, sinners, for what you've done.
3. You can't drive anywhere. The streets are closed off. The streetcars don't run. It's wonderful. You have to walk off all of that purple, green, and yellow sparkly frosting that coated your arteries when you downed three pieces of three layered cinnamon cake on the street. And then you can wash down your walk with an Abita Mardi Gras Bock when you get where you're going.
4. Dogs don't eat babies. Inside a king cake hides a mini little plastic baby. The person who gets the baby has to throw a party for everyone else eating the cake (you probably already knew that part). Last year, Kate bought a beautifully braided, gleaming king cake from Antoine's, all stuffed to its seams with raspberry cream cheese, and we made the mistake of going to a parade and leaving the piece of culinary art on the counter. When we got home, the dog had so thoroughly devoured it, the cardboard box was even down his gullet. Icing shimmered at the corners of Quincy's panting mouth, and all was gone...all but the tiny little baby, smack dab in the middle of the kitchen floor.
So I lie in wait with my greedy dog. I feel it today in the grayness and breeze: it's gonna be a good Mardi Gras. It always is.