I was really looking forward to this Mardi Gras, in part because we skipped the last one, and because it was my baby girl’s first, and because it’s also the first for my septuagenarian parents, and most of all because I’ve come to learn that all celebrations have an aspect of transcendence, and that’s good for the soul. No celebration so completely transforms your sense of reality as Mardi Gras.
Our planning was intensive. Costumery, comestibles, cocktails… We were well prepared for a day of masking and madness. We’d made up our minds to seek out the fantastic and surreal Society of St. Anne. Dad even painted his nails for the first time in 75 years of life.
So I was mighty disappointed when Persephone came down with a cold the night before. (Actually we don’t know if it’s a cold or what. She’s still got a fever today and will be visiting the doctor this afternoon.) It was going to be challenging enough juggling an infant (and my parents) in the chaos of the masquerade, but there was absolutely no way I was dragging a sick baby into that mess. Too stressful for me, though I suspect it might have cured her. Mardi Gras has miraculous powers.
So we resigned ourselves to staying home. But that didn’t mean we couldn’t have some fun. We could still have a few drinks and a few laughs. And we wouldn’t have to worry about where to pee. Dad and I had a little Amaretto in our coffee. We tuned into WWOZ and started rocking the carnival tunes.
We were saddened to hear Antoinette K-Doe had passed away. But like her friend said, “If she had to die, Mardi Gras day was the appropriate time.”
Now then. We had these costumes ready to go. So we dressed up and took some family portraits.
By this time it was early afternoon. Then I remembered that, even with some recent changes, the Zulu parade route still ends pretty close to our house. In fact we could hear the brassy blare of marching band horns wafting over from Orleans and Broad. So I poured myself a cup of my patented carnival cocktail (Vita Water and whiskey) and we walked over there, Cronus and Rhea and I, while Demeter stayed home with Persephone.
And thus we ended up catching a good middle section of Zulu, ten or twenty floats, and my parents got a little flavor of the fever that infects this city’s psyche so insidiously and gloriously. The krewe members and marching bands were pretty weary at that point, having been on the hoof for a good four hours already, but everyone was in high spirits and it was a barrel of fun. The weather was just about as good as it gets, sunny but not hot, with cooling breezes.
I got a nice sunburn — but only on my right shoulder.
And so we had a festive Mardi Gras after all. It wasn’t the day I’d envisioned, but then it never is.