Once I was dropped off at the Colton school, I got excited, even though I was lugging a few bags of stuff with me. Two and a half of those bags would end up in the hands of parade spectators, but until then, I had to deal with it all. A guard at the St Claude Avenue entrance tried to send several of us laden with throws and soft drinks and the like around to the back of the school, where the true krewe members' entrance was, but when he saw everybody unloading, he sighed and took pity on us. I walked in through an auditorium of which half the seats had been removed so that people could dance if they so chose at the after-party. I had to find my sub-krewe mates.
I was so, so happy I'd brought the camera. The true pageant of Krewe du Vieux unfolded right before my table, each wild, inspired, insane costume resplendent in the daylight, even more so than at night or during an after-party. The last KdV Doo I'd been to was when Irma Thomas was the parade queen and the night's entertainment at a just-closed cavernous Krauss department store on Canal Street. I bowed my head in memory of my long-gone yet much treasured Soul Queen of New Orleans go-cup from that year, then ran off to say hello to Adrastos and Dr. A, who were the first at their sub-krewe's table. Shecky grumbled a little at being the first arrival, but I figured everybody else would be there soon enough, as it was not even 4 PM. It gave me time to throw on even more makeup than I usually wear, then hang out some more and watch all the rude, crude, and socially unacceptably-clad masses pass by whilst noshing on some junk food and sipping some watery beer from the keg.
The headache I had had the day before brought with it a sore throat that had continued on into the following day, and I still carried it with me as I said hello to fellow Seeds of Declinees Michael Homan and his lovely, bewigged, large-bosomed and -derriere'd wife Therese. I eyed the beer belts on the gold-clad superhero folk of the Krewe of PAN and wished I'd brought something like that with me instead of the Cold-Eeze tablets that ended up being stuck in the fanny pack tucked into the large foam butt I was wearing that I'd covered in a fabric embellished with dollar bills of all denominations. Must tuck that beer belt idea away for next year...
Parade time rolled around. I lugged my stuff one more time, out the back door and down towards Franklin Avenue, mildly concerned that NOLA Slate and her promised shopping cart o' throws was nowhere in sight. Fellow Seed Mark Folse mentioned simply leaving the stuff in front of one of the Creole cottages lining the street if she was a no-show, which had me inwardly horrified. I had taped together strands of beads to make it easier to separate 'em and throw them, dammit! I had kumquats, for God's sake. I was not leaving a bag of over 500 bite-size citrus fruits on the curb, thanks. I didn't have to worry too much about it as Slate showed up...with a cart filled to the brim with stuff already. Oops. I hung my strands of beads on the pegs lining the sides of the cart, stuffed the kumquats underneath, tucked my funny money into my shoulder bag of special gifts in case I ran into folks I knew along the parade route, and we shoved off behind our float of Fannie Mae giving head to the Monopolized Clarence Darrow.
Highlights of the forced march through the Marigny and the Quarter:
- The people, ohhhh, the people. Saw some familiar ones along the sidelines, including my son's babysitters, some housemates of mine, a few more fellow bloggers, and a former housemate I hadn't seen in nearly eight years. Re-entering the Marigny entailed walking into one serious cloud of pot, something I hadn't experienced since Phish came to JazzFest. The tallboy Bud Sarah Lewis passed to me in mid-parade helped me walk through the valley of wacky tobacky just fine.
- I love this man's wig. 'Nuff said there.
- I was mightily sustained by the bottomless shopping cart of throws Slate and her Brother-Can-You-Spare-$700-Billion bum-clad hubby pushed down the street (nine dozen pompoms, folks. Tip of a freakin' Carnival iceberg) and by her flask of rum which helped my throat and my aching feet move along a little more with each sip.
- Homan sidled over to me at one point when there was a halt in the movement of the parade and asked, "Isn't this great?" Hell yes, it was.
- Slate discovered the joy of kumquat-giving near the end of the parade, when we'd reached the bottom of the cart and were left with the citrus. She'd give me updates on reactions to her gifts...and, more specifically, to where she'd put the gifts: "You've got to put 'em in their cleavage, honey," was her first bit of advice, which my tree man pal and kumquat supplier Justin was already merrily doing. "Talk to him about it," I said, directing her to the man himself. After an experimental bout of cleavage-stuffing, there was this report: "The older ladies who got 'em in their shirts were just so, so happy!" Off again...then back..."The old men who got them in their shirts gave me the sweetest smiles."
- Oh...that foam butt covered with money fabric I mentioned I had on? It's amazing how many ass-men (not this sort of assman) there are out there..and one of them was apparently a krewe member who frankly admitted to me near the end of the parade that he was afraid I was shaking it so much I'd break it. I told him it was foam and he laughed, then looked a little sad.
- Getting back to Colton and, despite my aching feet, dancing at least one dance with the brass band up on that stage had me set for the rest of the night. Aaaa-men.
- I am never walking that far in any sort of heels again, even if they're Aerosoles. Ain't gonna happen. I also need to start doing some endurance training for that kind of hike.
- I hope this doesn't start some sort of ugly "tradition" of my getting sick each Krewe du Vieux parade. I used to regularly get sick on my birthday. This was strikingly similar. And I would NOT wish the raging cold I had for the next few days afterwards on anybody.
- My husband and son missed the parade. Again. For the second year in a row. Third time's the charm.
- It's so nice dodging mule poo, and the mules themselves...I am convinced those beasts set the furious pace for the parade, causing my family to miss it and causing me to rush to get out of the nose of the mule towing the float behind ours.
Oh, and religious school the next morning? Couldn't teach it. Sick as a dog....
....but happy as a clam about Krewe du Vieux.