Today is the last day of Mardi Gras this year, the official day of the name, Fat Tuesday. I normally stay as far away from the festivities as possible (which have gone on for weeks now), but since I moved again and this time one block from the Quarter, it's hard to avoid. Even though it happens every year (and I've lived here long enough to see 5), Mardi Gras is something you almost forget about until it comes around again. You forget what it's like to be a local during the end all be all tourist time of year for this area.
This is also the first year that I recall where I actually went out and attempted to get things done like grocery shopping and errands. Every street I needed to be on was blocked off. But I learned to navigate well enough.
As a local, you start out in the season looking forward to seeing marching bands and floats. But then you realize that people camp out over night just to get a good spot to set up ladders for their children to catch beads and toys from the floats. You're not ready to spend a whole day in preparation for one parade or even two in a row, not equipped with beer coolers, umbrellas or lawn chairs. Every time I saw a parade, it was only in passing, on my way to other things.
People always bring up the irony of Mardi Gras, how we fight over worthless plastic baubles that end up in some box in the attic or thrown out the next week. How our entire lives are upheaved whether we attend the parades or not by people in search of such things. One passerby I over heard said they should just call it Mardi Tits. Of course, this was earlier today, the day everyone dresses up in the most outrageous costumes, some of which include full frontal nudity for women and rear nudity for men.
And this is true, the irony of the season. But I actually appreciate that we are willing to attach meaning to items whose long term purpose is forgotten. So often we cling to objects and attach meaning to them when it isn't called for, when it makes us consumerism addicts and refuses to let us just have cut loose fun time. While I am an avid churchgoer at a church in the Quarter whose members live here and usually go on prayer walks in the Quarter (which means they pray silently to themselves as they walk over the area, not to be mistaken with the people who come in one time a year to shove their beliefs down your throat while you're in line for beer on Bourbon Street) during Mardi Gras, I see nothing wrong with going out and watching all the mayhem. I do not show my tits, but I do tend to pick tighter fitting shirts when go into the Quarter for Mardi Gras. I do not wear beads at all, even when they're thrown to me. I do not drink the piss beer that is offered by the gallon. I just go to see everyone else and have a good laugh. That to me, is what Mardi Gras means.