“Happy Carnival, Mon Chéri!”
Spoken by a fat man in a dress to my baby boy. And I fell in love with Mardi Gras all over again.
We lived on Webster Street near Clancy’s at Annunciation in Uptown New Orleans. We were within walking distance of quick lunches at Whole Foods and lazy strolls through Audubon Park and Zoo. We were in heaven.
After watching You’ve Got Mail recently, I tweeted that “I am frequently convinced I should live in New York. Then I see honeysuckle hanging over the bayou and relent.” My heart is rooted in the South, though it was born in the North.
It could have been the subtly serious way that this bearded man in heels leaned in and tenderly wished my baby a Happy Carnival in the most swamp-steeped Creole accent I had heard in months. He and his Jefferson City Buzzards were drunk, by all accounts, yet they knew to be gentle as they draped lengths of tradition around our necks.
We had no idea they were coming, loud music and marching clubs passing our shotgun were not entirely unusual, but they sealed the deal that day for us.
Our hearts are forever tied to the South. To Mobile, Alabama, and New Orleans, Louisiana, and Gulfport, Mississippi. I’ve birthed a Cajon Bebe, a Coast Rat, and a roux-soaked Bayou Babe.
My horizons were filled with corn fields in my youth. Theirs are cloaked in Spanish Moss.
Today is Fat Tuesday. I have a lot of catching up to do and stories to tell about the last couple of weeks, but today we indulge.
It’s too cold to take these babies out to the parades, so we’re watching the familiar streets of New Orleans on WDSU today. Mardi Gras isn’t Mardi Gras without Norm Robinson, Margaret Orr, and Blaine Kern. You can see what we see, live online.
King Cake may not grace your table today, but I defy you not to feel the Carnival Spirit.
Laissez les bon temps rouler, ya’ll!