Thursday, February 14, 2013

More Mardi Gras: Wouldn't You Rather Be a Pirate?

Increasingly random recollections of Mardi Gras.

You KNOW he'd rather be a pirate!
– As I mentioned in the previous post, people put a lot of effort into their Mardi Gras costumes. There was a little bit of everything. But everyone I passed, no matter how fancy their duds, I thought the same thing, and a couple of times I said it aloud: "Admit it. You'd rather be a pirate."

This was especially true of the guy dressed as a daisy, or the cowboys.

Marching down Royal.
– Early in the going were were marching down Royal Street with our good ship, followed closely by your classic New Orleans jazz band playing a lively march. It was slow going and one of the band members asked me if we couldn't go faster, because this was a wedding party and the they had to get to their destination by a certain time. Certainly seemed like a bad idea – not the Mardi Gras wedding but the idea you'd schedule something that depended on your arrival at a specific time on this date. I explained I had absolutely no control over the Pirate Krewe, let alone the flow of traffic. So they stayed behind us. As it turned out, the wedding was directly across the street from the bar toward which we were heading, and the band was delivering the bride. So it's not like the wedding could start before they got there. We were witnesses to the whole ceremony, which took place on the porch. The "minister," who was dressed in something like a giant beach ball, was using a woefully underpowered microphone, so we didn't hear much even though we were less than 30 feet away. But judging from the reaction, "She said I do."

– A band of musicians was winding down the street, heading in the opposite direction we were traveling. They were all painted sort of green, like the patina on old copper, and barely legally dressed. The percussionist was wearing a vest and a small pouch on his genitals. As he passed I leaned over and said, "Arr matey! You've got yer eye patch in the wrong place."

Max takes a turn pulling the ship.
– A word about the ship. The Krewe of Pirates has built a small ship, maybe 10 or 12 feet long and four feet at the beam. They've actually built several, but they keep getting stolen, or at least they have disappeared with some regularity. (I smell frat boys!) It's built so that it can be taken apart and stored and put together again fairly easily. And it was light and maneuverable, easy to pull through the crowded streets, and we managed to never hit a car!

Fog or fire?
Tuesday morning it was out in front of the master of the fleet's house, loaded up. But they had one more thing to add. A couple of guys had a portable fog machine which they put in the bow. The idea was, it would look like the ship was coming through a bank of fog like when you first see the Black Pearl in "Pirates of the Caribbean. But when they installed it and turned it on, it looked less as if the ship were emerging from a fog bank and more as if the ship were on fire. So that idea got scrapped. I don't know if they were mollified when I pointed out that, no matter what the movies show, there is no fog in the Caribbean. The recipe for fog is warm moist air and cold dry air. The only fog I ever saw was on a particularly warm wet day when my car's air conditioning was running full tilt.

The Krewe of Pirates' ship is a wee small barky, but she's yarr. Pulling her through the crowded streets was easy enough. If people didn't move, you just kept going, shouting "Make a hole!" and "Pirate ship coming through!" If that didn't work, you shouted "No brakes! No steering!" It was true, and it  tended to work.

Beads and bubbles cascade down from a balcony.
But as the day went on, the streets got harder to traverse. Not because it was crowded. It was crowded all day! That was the fun of it. But as you may have heard, beads are the common currency of Mardi Gras. And it has nothing to do with tossing beads to girls who flash their boobs, although that still goes on too. But it's mostly just beads everywhere. Beads flying through the air. Beads cascading down from balconies and flying up to balconies from our cannon. And by late afternoon, the streets were coated in beads. It wasn't possible to take a step without crunching through beads. And since there had been a light sprinkle of rain, the roads were paved with wet beads. Treacherous underfoot, and doubly so when pulling a pirate ship.

– I made one huge tactical mistake Tuesday. I have two pair of pirate boots – I chose the sharp looking ones instead of the comfortable ones. Wrong wrong wrong. By the end of the day I was dragging, and my feet were throbbing. I mean absolutel agonoy. They have never hurt so much in my life, even when my foot got run over by a car. As we walked back towards the master of the fleet's house, I was falling behind and it really was painful. I also had to pee so bad I was almost cramping up. I knew I was in trouble when the pregnant pirate pushing her two-year-old in a stroller was pulling away from me. I made it, but just barely.

– Meanwhile, I had lost Tori and Max, or they had lost us. Tori's friend Marina, who she hadn't seen in about five years, was in town for Mardi Gras, so Tori and Max broke off late in the day to visit with her and the friend she was staying with. I was frantically sending her directions by text when she ran across Charles Duffy, the master of the fleet, who walked them back. (It was after all, his house.) Stopping at a couple of bars on the way, and constantly getting sidetracked by boobs. They got their eventually, and I was almost able to walk again.

Tori guides the ship while maintaining proper hydration.
What a day! Can't wait to do it again – in the right boots!

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