Preparing for Carnival
Every so often I have these moments of what can only be described as hubris: Yes, I’ll bake cute gingerbread favors for all the kids in Ruby’s class less than two weeks after giving birth. Yes, I’ll go shopping during the height of Christmas season with an exhausted, cranky baby and Ruby on a sugar-high. And last year: Yes, I’ll go to Muses with Ruby and Georgia by myself.
The next morning, my childless co-workers straggled into the office looking hungover and tired, mumbling about the need for coffee, cheese and Advil. And I, despite having consumed only half a beer the night before (Ruby spilled the other half), can guarantee that I felt worse than all of them. My legs ached. My arms ached. My back ached worst of all.
Carnival season is an endurance test for every New Orleanian, but for parents it involves a lot less drinking, dancing and partying, and a lot more lifting, hauling and planning (the amount of puke is about the same in both cases, though for different reasons).
Injuries are sustained all around, too. My Carnival bag that I bring to all parades includes Band-Aids, hand sanitizer and an ice pack (bonus: the ice pack keeps the beers and Capri Suns cool). Ruby, just last season alone, was hit in the head with a bunch of heavy beads, cut her finger on the edge of a broken plastic trumpet, got poked in the eye with a spear and skinned her elbow scrabbling for a frisbee (she got it). And I, in addition to the general aches and pains associated with lugging approximately 75 pounds of my offspring around, have been kicked in the head by kids on ladders, hit in the face by beads intended for Ruby on my shoulders and had a candy apple stuck in my hair (see also: Ruby on my shoulders). The youngest member of the family, Georgia, got off injury-free last year, but the oldest member, my father, slipped on a pair of Mardi Gras beads while leaving the Banks Street Bar and bashed up his cheek and shoulder.
All of us rallied, though. Ruby takes it all in stride, as long as she has cool throws to show at the end of it. I am used to the Carnival casualties, having been poked in the eye with a spear a time or two myself as a kid – I think my worst injury was getting smashed in the face by a trombone during Endymion when I was 9. And my dad said his face hurts less than his legs did from “dancing with every pretty girl in the joint” at some French Quarter dive.
We all take it easy in the days after Carnival, soothing ourselves with bad TV; Advil and Tylenol in alternating doses as warranted; strong coffee; hot baths; and, for my dad at least, good brandy. But a little soreness isn’t going to keep any of us away from St. Charles Avenue for any future parades. We all love Carnival far too much – even if that love hurts.
Excerpted from Eve Crawford Peyton’s blog, Joie d’Eve, which appears each Friday on MyNewOrleans.com.