Darlings, a moment, please, while an old man wipes a sentimental tear away. This is the weekend before Mardi Gras. As a young homo living in the French Quarter in New Orleans, that was a time that never failed to thrill me to my very core. Carnival is a celebration of debauchery, and Mardi Gras is its apex, nominally to get it all out of your system in time for Lent, to which I always said a hearty “whatever”. I adored the tons of boys pouring into town looking for sex, which I was only too happy to provide; getting loaded with friends at all hours for hours; the parades; hell, I even looked forward to the nasty little king cakes.
I actually moved to New Orleans because of Carnival. I had been lucky enough to go to several while in college in Austin, driving 10 hours to New Orleans, careening through the weekend and then dragging my sorry ass home. After I left Austin, I briefly wound up in Seattle, but one day suddenly realized I could live in New Orleans and have Mardi Gras come to me instead of the other way around. Coincidentally, that was the same day Reagen was elected the first time and NOLA seemed like a good place to go hide. I was there in time for the next Carnival. I seem to remember costuming as a flamingo.
I spent one Mardi Gras lying on my back athwart the threshold of my bathroom tripping like a million screaming monkeys. My friends alternated between stepping daintily over me to use the facilities and trying to talk me into going outside. I steadfastly refused, announcing that I was perfectly comfortable. And I was. I had spent the whole weekend running around to bars with my dick hanging out. I needed the rest. After another Mardi Gras, I was discussing what a gorgeous day it had been with my dear friend Magda who finally had to point out it had, in fact, rained non-stop and that I had simply been too loaded to notice.
The year I was working as a room service waiter, I amused myself all morning doing acid and then had to go to work for the 3:00 shift still tripping. Oh, that was a year to cherish, let me tell you.
Of course, drugs and sex are not all Carnival has to offer. There’s also parades and beads, both of which are dear to me. I vividly recall the image of a float bearing down on me one night on St. Charles Avenue, its glaring lights illuminating a fountain of beads erupting from it. They were cheap and gaudy and I would fight you to the ground for them. Do not get between me and them pearls, bitch. We had bags of them by the time we left town, everyone does.
After we moved to San Francisco I went back once for Mardi Gras. It was terribly amusing, of course, but not the same, poignantly enough. Still, this time of the year, every year, I remember it all longingly. And to that young poofter hanging out in a jam packed bar tonight, high as the proverbial kite, feeling up some humpy guy from out of town, and simultaneously wondering what he’s going to wear on Tuesday, I say Here’s to ya honey. You go girl.