From my living room window, I see Republicans in boxer shorts sipping chicory coffee out of “Go-Bush” mugs as they relax on vinyl Lay-Z-Boy recliners propped on a grassy piece of land running up the street. It’s a week before Mardi Gras in New Orleans and the Endymion Parade is ready to begin. At the corner from my home, parade riders gather to drink massive amounts of alcohol, count their throws and board the gigantic three-story floats. It’s carnival, traffic is closed, everyone is hostage and no one sleeps until Mardi Gras is over. Ever.
It’s also “Man Week” in my ‘hood. Strong coffee in hand, I peek through window blinds. These man creatures have decided to cast their spouses aside and live outdoors for a week. Freezing rain, no problem. Nothing is more important than claiming their sacred spot of neutral ground. Each male passionately rips off pieces of yellow caution tape creating an 8×12 square location where they will bravely house essentials for their arriving families. It’s a hunter and gatherer thingie. Ice chest, beer, Jack Daniels, Tequila mix, Salvation Army tattered sofa, barbecue pit, more beer, cigarettes, industrial-sized bags of potato chips, cheap French onion dip and again, more beer. Sacred items.
Parade time. Wives and children of man-campers arrive. They come with blankets, pillows and devices for keeping children from disappearing. It’s gonna be a long-ass night. Floats, the size of buildings, begin rolling, laden with dozens of costumed riders. A 110’ long crawfish float that only the imagination could create begins winding its sequined red tail down the street. Sleep and dreams are a thing of the past as I remember my real estate agent telling me “it’s great living on the parade route. Cast your worries to the wind, flash your flesh!” I tell myself to laugh, don’t cry as I watch the parade and realize I haven’t been out of the house in a week.
The giant crawfish float slowly stops in front of my house. The parade route is clogged; everything comes to a sudden halt. Unexpectedly, someone is setting up a barbecue pit inside the float. Another rider pours fluid on the grill, and then a roaring fire erupts following the last matchstick. Oh shit. The float is steps from my house. Is this scene going to appear in my obituary? People are running from their homes, hoses in hand trying to stop the crawfish float inferno. Those Republicans in boxer shorts will become heroes of the day. Beer cans in hand; they rush to the burning crawfish, throw their family blankets on the fire; take a sip more of beer while the fire slowly dissipates. You think a fire engine might come? When you live in a town with corrupt politics, that ain’t gonna fly. It’s Mardi Gras! Throw caution to the wind! People burning? No biggie! It’s a hunka-hunka burning love happenin’ here.
I’m in sensory overload watching the red crawfish turn jet black; people are running like roaches holding bottles of glue and attaching body parts here and there on the giant paper-mache cremated crawfish. The riders are gluing parts and pieces back on the float. It’s a long uneven body, a lop-sided pair of claws, torn bug eyes, a body beginning to look like a seared scorpion. I’m watching a frenzy of humans piecing together this dead fish mounted on a tractor. Looks like the gluey Mardi Gras trinkets will survive also. The melted plastic beads will morph into eclectic pieces. Creative baubles and imaginative objects are going to do just fine as throws. Those that are really artistic can use the melted beads as future lamp shades. There you go…something wonderful will erupt from this disaster. A Mardi Gras tip – dress for comfort, not for style, in case you have to do a 5K without warning due to fire. You never know when a giant crawfish will burn in front of your home, so always bring water as a parade-goer. It’s a survival tip, just like knowing that there ain’t no place to pee on Mardi Gras day.
The motor from the tractor trailer underneath the crawfish float suddenly begins to spout. No more are the fiber-optic lights. Large rubber wheels set in motion, the riders puts their masks on; straighten the beads on their necks and toss the melted trinkets to the crowds. Parade time! The crowds will scream “Throw Me Something, Mister!” even if the crawfish is charred.