The very best of our city on display
I still half-believe that Alex and I only fell for each other because we rode roller coasters together on the day we met, but if it wasn’t that, then the magic happened when I read this sentence he’d written in his column in the student newspaper: “Now, you might say that I'm not much of a ‘club-goer.’ Indeed, you might say I'm not much of a ‘room-leaver.’”
Like the best lines do, it made me laugh with self-recognition. I, too, am not now, nor have I ever been, much of a club-goer or even a room-leaver. I hear people talk about FOMO, but I don’t have it. As I stated in last week’s column, I am really pretty delighted to stay home most days with my kids and my husband and watch horrible murder shows on Netflix in my ratty Mizzou sweatpants while drinking wine and baking bread.
My homebody attitude makes it hard to write much of a column, though, so this week, I turned to my friend Hollie Garrison to get her thoughts on the joyful chaos that was last Sunday’s Boycott Bowl. (My favorite meme said, “The city of New Orleans has created an alternate reality and is throwing a party in it.”)
Tell me about your Saints fandom.
I've watched (or at least listened) to pretty much every Saints game since I was old enough to hold my own head up. When I was a kid, my dad and I would post up in his vinyl recliner on Sunday afternoons in front of the Zenith, me in his lap, TV muted and WWL cranked on the boom box next to us. At one point we even had our own cheer for Jim Mora and Bobby Hebert, and we wore our paper bags around the living room until we realized they were traumatizing the cat. When I moved to Lafayette for college, I didn't have a TV but I listened to every game while I did laundry or churned out last-minute class projects. Now, even two years out, I still feel a dull emptiness every time I turn on the radio and it isn't Jim Henderson giving me the play-by-play. I'm not one of those superfans who can rattle off stats or positions, but my devotion runs deep.
How did you watch the other games this season?
Work has been pretty demanding lately, so I watched most of the games on my phone while doing meal prep for the week ahead. Until we got to the playoffs – then it was time to hit my favorite bar downtown to be amongst other anxious, overeager Who Dats.
Why did you go to Boycott Bowl even though you hate people as much as I do?
OK, I don't hate people, Eve. I just always feel so awkward, and so I hate having to interact one-on-one. But maybe the only thing I love more than costuming is getting lost in a crowd, and there was no way I was going to miss out on being a part of this one.
What were the crowds like?
If you took all the best things about Mardi Gras and tripled them, that was the vibe. I have never been in an ocean of humanity that dense, but I didn't see a single act of aggression; I didn't hear a single harsh word. Everyone was so genuinely happy to be there and to be together. There was so much hugging and dancing and high-fiving and sharing — beads and flags and glitter and beer and smiles. I can't describe it better than another Boycott Bowler, Anne Beck, did on her now-viral Facebook post: "This was just the family. It wasn’t tourists filling our city tonight. It was just us. The WHODAT Nation. And when we got home (early, because it’s a school night) we realized… we didn’t see a single police officer in all that crowd. And we didn’t need policing, because we were one united thought. No sour grapes here, Roger. You can take no credit for the best Super Bowl Sunday ever – it was ours alone." And she's right, it was the best Super Bowl Sunday ever.
What were your favorite things you saw?
The quick and easy answer is the costumes. I'm sure it's not news to anyone that the outfits and accessories were ON POINT. And no matter how long I live here, I never cease to be amazed by my neighbors' creativity and craftsmanship. But my absolute favorite thing about the day was the camaraderie – just how purely content and cordial everyone was. I saw a lot of national news coverage that described Sunday's festivities in some way as "angry" (like SBNATION's headline "Saints fans had a big, angry parade before the Super Bowl"). But nothing could be further from the truth. The reality was that it was an overwhelmingly positive vibe, and with that came the kind of intermingling of ages and races and classes that you usually only see in a utopian Pepsi commercial. There's really no way to describe the day without sounding saccharine, and I'm not usually one to get all in my feelings about things, but Sunday was truly something special.
What was your biggest takeaway from the day?
Biggest takeaway: I'm so proud, and lucky, to live here.
Amen, Hollie. I might not be much of a room-leaver, but even so, I will never stop being proud or feeling lucky to call this city home.