Laissez les bon temps rouler!
(Let the good times roll!)
I’m originally from a small town in Oklahoma, so I didn’t grow up with Mardi Gras. In fact, all I knew about it was what I had seen on television. That, of course, meant Bourbon Street and all its debauchery. The Sin City of the South.
I had wanted to visit New Orleans, though, ever since I read Interview With the Vampire. I fell in love with the town from Anne Rice’s description, and her own passion for the Crescent City. So, when I had my first chance to go, I jumped on it. It just so happened it was during Mardi Gras, and one of the biggest parades, Endymion.
That was twenty years ago, and I remember it like it was yesterday. Well, maybe not yesterday, but definitely not like its been twenty years. I can feel the warm sun on my face. Smell the scent that is so New Orleans, a little of earth and a little of trash. (It was Mardi Gras). We walked the Quarter that day, and I was amazed. I was astounded that so many people could fit into one street.
I think this small-town girl’s eyes were open wide all-day long. (It was Mardi Gras.) Everything you see on television is true. But, I loved every minute of it. In my life, I had never experienced anything quite like that.
And then, the sun went down, and the parade started. I stood there, neon green alien cup in one hand, the other hand raised to catch whatever they were throwin’. The floats were breathtaking, all lit up like the Vegas strip, with celebrities on them and everything. Ian Ziering, from Beverly Hills 90210 just happened to be on one float and I think I swooned just a little. Maybe it was Ian, maybe it was whatever was in the alien drink, I don’t know. (It was Mardi Gras.)
At the end, neck heavy with beads, I’m sure my grin was as bright as the lights on the floats. The memory still makes me smile.
Twenty years later, I’m living right in the heart of Cajun Country and I still love Mardi Gras. There’s something about it that you won’t find anywhere else. It’s the joi de vivre, the excitement of the catch, the anticipation. I’ve ridden in parades, and I actually rented an apartment for years because it was near the parade route. Have I been back to New Orleans? Many, many times. Have I been back for the parades? No. I much prefer the laid-back atmosphere of Lafayette.
Fat Tuesday is coming up, so that means it’s once again, time to laissez les bon temps rouler!