I am standing on St. Charles Avenue dressed as Darth Vader in a tutu.
I got to explain.
For Mardi Gras, the Gunches always dress alike. We started this years ago, because it made it easier to keep track of the kids.
Unfortunately my two sisters-in-law, Gloriosa and Larva, have got addicted — to tutus. They say we can be anything, as long as it includes tutus. But the kids now have their own ideas — Star Wars costumes.
My mother-in-law, Ms. Larda, comes up with a compromise. After years of taking kids and grandkids and great grandkids to movies for their birthdays, she has become a expert on Star Wars. She happens to know that Tatooine is Luke Skywalker’s home planet. My grandson Go-Cup draws a picture of it, and misspells it “Tutu-ine.” This gives her a brilliant idea.
We always rent a portable toilet, but this year we put a sign on it that says “The Planet Tutu-ine. ” We dress it in the World’s Biggest Tutu, which she creates with a whole lot of nylon net. We load The Planet Tutu-ine in the bed of Larva’s pick-up, and park it just off the parade route — Gloriosa has a friend who lets us use his driveway. And we all wear various Star Wars costumes with various tutus.
Me and my sister-in-laws are also wearing Apple watches which we got for Christmas from our significant others. We chipped in and got one for Ms. Larda, too, and she is wearing it, but she ain’t excited about it.
We decided she needed one because she ain’t getting any younger, and she could take a fall, and this watch got a special feature: if you press a button on the side for more than three seconds, it calls 911.
But the main thing it does, it keeps track of your exercise and your heart rate and how many calories you burn up. If you do something right, it pings, and when you look at it, there’s a message congratulating you. I think it’s kind of fun, but Ms. Larda says she ain’t letting no watch tell her what to do.
Anyway, The Rex parade comes, and me and Larva and Gloriosa are right there with the kids, yelling and chasing floats, and our watches ping like crazy.
Ms. Larda sits on a lawn chair with a wookie blanket over her legs and tries to look feeble, so the float riders feel sorry for her. Her watch don’t ping once, but she gets a lot of long beads.
After 80 floats or so, she waddles off to The Planet Tutu-ine. And her watch gets its revenge.
Because all of a sudden, two police cars escorting the parade let loose with their sirens, and the police yell that they got to turn right on the street where we are standing, so everybody rushes and clears a path. They whiz through, and screech to a stop at our potty.
Three men and a lady cop swarm out and yank at the potty door, which is locked. Ms. Larda sings out, “One second, please.”
The man says “Please step out of the… thing?” Ms. Larda steps out, sees the police, squawks and throws up her hands.
The first man asks if she called 911, and she says no, and pulls out her cell phone and holds it up. Then the lady officer talks into her own cell phone, and says, “The operator says she is STILL calling it.” Everybody looks at each other. The lady officer sticks her head inside the portable and pulls it back in a hurry.
Then I see the problem. Ms. Larda has an extra-long strand of beads looped over her arm. It is also wrapped around her watch. It is pressing the 911 button.
So I explain, and apologize, and Ms. Larda insists on giving the police all her long beads for their trouble. Rex beads, too.
And then, for the first time in its life, Ms. Larda’ s phone pings.
It tells her that her heart rate went up.
I guess it feels pretty smug about that.