A Pixie at Krewe du Vieux

ARTHUR NEAD ILLUSTRATION

Early in the parade I had made a good catch .

We were near Marigny Street watching Krewe du Vieux pass by.

Because the irreverent krewe marches on the weekend before the
big-floated parades begin, it’s a harbinger of the season. Its marchers
and its crowd tend to be more bohemian than what might be seen in the more
conservative precincts of Uptown. There is a funkiness to the parade that just
seems to capture the spirit.

My catch was a huge ring made from a hunk of white translucent plastic.

When a button was pressed, it flashed incessantly. There I was, with the parade
barely started, and I was already blinking. As the march continued I grew a
little weary. We had walked a good distance to the spot and I had been standing
for a while. During a lull in the parade I noticed that across the street there
was a row of shotgun houses, each one with a set of stoops suitable for sitting.

I momentarily left my group, crossed the street and found an unoccupied spot.

I hadn’t been sitting long when a 20ish girl approached the stoops.

She was dressed with dyed shoes, a green leotard, green sequined
wings, a puffy wig and a painted face. In another era she
would’ve been thought of as a flower child, but what
separated her from the past was her iPhone. She plopped
on the stoop next to me and explained that she wanted
to text friends about Mardi Gras. Her texting was intense
until she noticed my blinking ring, which made her wideeyed.
“Hey, mister,” she said while reaching for her backpack,
“I’ll trade you a Coke for that ring.” I thought for a
moment but decided to decline, though I’m not sure why.

Maybe it was because I really didn’t want a Coke but it was
probably because the ring was the first catch of the season
and it blinked. Why compromise a fast start? She nodded
and said she understood and returned to her texting.

A few moments later she turned to me again and said,
“Hey, would you like some King Cake vodka?” Social
norms would usually suggest turning down vodka from
a perfect stranger sitting on a stoop, especially one
dressed like Tinkerbell, but this time I just couldn’t
say no. “Sure,” I answered. From her backpack she
pulled out a sort of plastic squeeze bag filled with
vodka. With the bling on my hand still blinking,
I took a squirt. To my surprise it was good, really
good, tasting very much like the classic cinnamon
King Cakes. I asked her where she got it while hoping
she wouldn’t say she made it in her bathtub. I was
relieved when she said Dorignac’s. (I would later learn,
that the store had indeed begun offering a line of King
Cake vodka last year.)

I thanked her. She went back to texting. I got up
to look at the parade. By this time the Krewe du
Vieux had passed and the Krewe Delusion was on
its way. I saw my group across the street and figured
it was time to join them. There was one bit of business
though. I went back to the girl who was still
working her iPhone and handed her the ring. She
was thrilled. I didn’t get a can of Coke in return, but
I certainly felt that the ring was on a more deserving
hand.

I looked back and she was texting again but now
one of her hands was blinking. I wondered what
she was writing. Maybe she was telling them that the
nights are different in New Orleans at Mardi Gras.

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