Showing Your Wits

People will tell you that the reason we usually have Mardi Gras in February —the coldest, most miserable month of the year in New Orleans— has to do with the church calendar and the stage of the moon or something like that.

Don’t believe it.

It’s for one reason only. So we won’t get naked.

Not that I personally would get naked. But the fact is, New Orleans is known for nakedness. The rest of the world expects  to see us naked, or at least showing our bosom.

But if we do that in February, we are going to pay for it in frostbite or pneumonia or some other misery.

That’s the whole point. The church ain’t stupid.

But this year, the ladies of Nyx got the bright idea to throw a parade in July. In New Orleans.

Now, Hades on a hot day got nothing on New Orleans in July. If we could sell sweat by the bucket, we would all be billionaires.

This is precisely why we don’t have no Fourth of July parades like they do in the rest of the country. Up North, while they are rooting and tooting down the street (but not throwing beads, by the way) we are inside lurking around our air conditioners. Or at the multiplex theatre, slinking from one movie to the next, all day long. That’s how we celebrate in summer.

But the Nyx ladies wanted to bring thousands of people outside into the streets. All sweating. All wearing not much. There would have been plenty of skin for the world to see, and since New Orleans ain’t known for physical fitness, a lot of sights the world would never unsee. Mayor Cantrell saved us all.

The Nyx colors are hot pink and black, which would have also described the crowd out there — hot pink, and also hot black, and a bunch of hot tans in between. And I ain’t talking hot as in sexy.

The float riders were supposed to throw glittered sand shovels, which would probably have been good for digging in potholes, since we got no beaches to speak of. They should have said they would throw snowballs. Maybe the mayor would have approved of THAT.

A bunch of us are talking about it Sunday afternoon at my mother-in-law Ms. Larda’s. She got one of them big inflatable water slides secondhand — and what with that and a couple of plastic pools and the lawn sprinkler and some squirt guns, the grandkids create their own water park in her back yard. We grownups are all lounging out there in our bathing suits, letting the kids squirt water on us. Maybe we are sights that couldn’t be unseen ourselves, but we are wet and cool and happy.

I myself got on a two-piece bathing suit that I had to borrow from my daughter Gumdrop, because I forgot mine. I can tell by the way my gentleman friend Lust looks at me that he likes it, but I’m not sure— the top don’t fit right, and there are other parts of me that are seeing the sun for the first time since I was a teenager.

My sister-in-law Gloriosa asks me to take her baby Flambeau down the slide, and Gloriosa will catch her at the bottom. Well, Flambeau loves it. She clings to me like a little monkey and shrieks all the way down.

We land in a big splash and I lose my balance and slip underwater —it is only about 18 inches deep— but Gloriosa quick scoops up the baby. When I come up, I realize something is missing—my bathing suit top.  Flambeau is still clutching it while Gloriosa carries her across the yard to get a towel, oblivious.

Nobody else is oblivious. I see eyes round as doorknobs and beer missing mouths all over that yard. Ms. Larda throws me a pool noodle for a modesty shield and I sprint for the house.

When I slink back outside, decent again, everybody acts normal, like they didn’t just see a half-naked woman with a pool noodle flailing from under her armpits streak across the yard.

Who needs a parade?


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