Recently, I assumed the pre-Carnival position: standing in a purple-green-and-gold line.
I no longer ride in Thoth, but the siren’s call hasn’t shushed. Epiphany means both king cakes are a food group and “throw me something, mister!” is a conversation starter. With or without a parading membership, it was time to check out the latest and greatest in Mardi Gras throws.
So I stood in a beaded bottleneck, watching as locals with greater parading bona fides picked up or placed orders for the season, waiting to check out with yet another addition for our porch. (Hold on, house floats aren’t really a thing anymore? Pardon our bedazzle!)
This Mardi Gras emporium expected a parade of insiders. “What krewe do you ride with?” was the reveler-by-reveler checkout greeting.
After a price check longer than Rex’s annual Zulu pause at Washington Ave., the woman ahead of me finally got to answer the question.
“Oh, I’m not in a krewe, but my husband is in Rex.” So that explains the shopping cart of tastefully produced garland!
She quickly got her high-society discount and carefully detailed the locations of her garland gifts. She was sending Mardi Gras to California.
While I waited for the sorting out of the shipment—trying to look my most meeting-of-the-courts presentable—I panned over to the other line, the one I started in before jumping to the newly opened, and just as slow checkout. After a series of route diversions (can anyone go to the warehouse for this order?), the man who had been in front of me finally made it to the end of the checkout parade.
He was fielding a different set of questions, though. Carrying just a couple items, the man produced a folded piece of paper.
“I need to pick up my layaway order.”
Rex shipments at register one, layaway pickups register two. Different worlds rubbing shoulders.
In many ways, this is our tandem float.
Mardi Gras is for everyone, to be sure. Rich and poor, pedigreed and just starting out, the perpetuaters of a social order and those who poke fun at the structures.
And it’s this Everyman quality that should force us to examine more closely the rest of the year, our Ash Wednesdays to January 5ths.
Whether we notice or not, we live together.
So the begged question: How do we live together better?
A Mardi Gras for all year, starting at a checkout line and processing, we hope, to somewhere new.