Masking Like a Baby Cake
Even if you don’t understand it
LORI OSIECKI ILLUSTRATION
Last Mardi Gras, nobody ever heard of a Baby Cake.
This year, that’s what everybody is going to dress like.
That is how we think in New Orleans: If it don’t make sense, it’ll make a good Mardi Gras costume.
When my sister-in-law Larva heard they were changing the New Orleans baseball team’s name to Baby Cakes, she was confused – like everybody else. Then she realized that by “baby cakes,” they meant King Cakes, and she got very upset. She said it’s sacrilegious, because the King Cake baby represents the baby Jesus.
“Which goes to show I wasted my money sending you to Catholic school,” her mother Ms. Larda told her. “The King Cake baby got nothing to do with baby Jesus. It got to do with old man Entringer getting a good deal on a shipment of plastic babies.”
Ms. Larda ought to know. She used to work at McKenzie’s, which Mr. Entringer owned. (McKenzie’s, if you ain’t from here, was the chain of pastry shops where you used to get your birthday cakes and your King Cakes and your doughnuts and your buttermilk drops. They are mostly gone now. I blame Weight Watchers.)
So “baby cake” ain’t sacrilegious. But, like I said, it don’t make sense.
Anyway, the new mascot is this bald cartoon baby with a crown and baseball bat. He is exploding out of a purple, green and gold King Cake.
Now, my other sister-in-law, Gloriosa, always pushes for the family to dress alike at Mardi Gras. Which is nice, except the costume always got to be something that Gloriosa looks sexy in. This rules out, say, moss-covered gorillas or Donald Trump.
Her idea of the Baby Cakes costume includes a tutu and a tiara. Gloriosa loves to flounce around in a tutu and a tiara. The tutu would be purple, green and gold, and represent the King Cake. And she could show off her legs in matching tights. And carry a little child’s bat.
It sounds adorable, but it don’t go over with the men in the family. They put all their feet down. No tutu. No tights. No tiara.
They want a manly King Cake baby. And to be fair, the Baby Cake mascot does look like a tough little baby. And he’s as bald as the mayor. Gloriosa don’t see no reason to carry it that far. She ain’t going to shave her head.
Then she comes up with a brilliant idea. Make fun of the name. Let the Gunch ladies be Baby Cakes, and the men be Baby Snakes. She goes online and finds some fake boa constrictors for them to wrap around themselves. This boa constrictor is made of a hollow plastic tube and you can even carry a flask inside it. With it they can wear camo shirts and pants in snakey colors and carry baby pacifiers. Ms. Larda will embroider everybody’s shirts: “Baby Cakes” or “Baby Snakes.” They will probably win a prize.
My brothers-in-law Lurch and Leech were so proud of these costumes, they wore them to the streetcar parade Phunny Phorty Phellows on Jan. 6. They even carried their flasks. And that’s when they discovered the fatal flaw. Because of the way the snake wrapped around them, they couldn’t drink and then do what a man’s got to do. The pressure got so bad, they had to leave early.
This is serious. They had to figure out how to rearrange the snakes. Finally, they do – but Gloriosa don’t approve. Because the snake’s head comes out from between their legs, and they’ll use the mouth to ... “No!” says Gloriosa. “We are going to be on St. Charles Avenue. We can’t have no snake coming out your crotch on St. Charles Avenue. Too many kids.”
So they compromise. The Baby Snakes and Cakes will walk together down the first half of St. Charles, with the Snakes wearing their costumes the way God intended. Then, after the costume judging, the Snakes will find a bathroom, rearrange their costumes and go to the French Quarter. The Cakes will stay on St. Charles to watch the parade.
If I had to predict, I would say the Snakes will enter a less family friendly contest in the Quarter – and win. And the Cakes will lose to another Baby Cake, probably a bald guy who looks like the mayor. But I’m just guessing.
This I do know: Mr. Entringer is rolling over in his grave.