My kids are all, each in his or her own way, the perfect archetypes of New Orleanians during Carnival.
Ruby is the marathoner. Her dad came into town late Wednesday night, and they hit Popeyes and then Nyx. She came home at 10:30 p.m., passed out with candy apple smeared across her face, woke up and went to school, and then made it out again for Chaos and Muses. She did all of the big Friday parades with her dad, skipped the Saturday day parades, and rallied for Endymion. Sunday morning, she said she was going to take a day off from parades, but then, fortified by beignets, reconsidered because Bacchus is her absolute favorite. By Monday, she was fighting a cold, but she chugged some chamomile tea with honey, did a shot of kids Sudafed, and pushed through Orpheus. On Mardi Gras, her dad dropped her off at my house around dusk, filthy, sunburned, sticky, and cranky with aching blistered feet. “Mardi Gras is the most amazing and painful day of the year,” she murmured as I rubbed her feet and made her some more tea.
“And you don’t even have a hangover to contend with,” I thought but did not say.
Elliot is the one who would go to Disney or France or Park City or anywhere Mardi Gras is not happening. He gamely went to a couple of parades and put some beads around his neck, but it’s clearly not his scene. My favorite day over the long weekend was probably Bacchus Sunday — when I made kale and white bean soup, watched old Robert Stack episodes of "Unsolved Mysteries" while folding laundry, and read a book about the Columbine High School shootings, so I completely identify with his perspective on this.
Even more so, though, I identify with Georgia’s parade M.O. It starts early in the day, when she thinks parades sound like a fabulous idea and she runs around the house screaming, “Throw me something, mister! Parades, yayyyyyy! I’m gonna catch cups! And stuffed animals! And beads! And doubloons! And more cups! Yayyyyy!” She maintains her enthusiasm as we pack up our ice chest and get in the car and drive in circles until we find a place to park. Her excitement dwindles, however, with each successive step toward the actual parade itself, and by the time we’re in the thick of the crowd, she is pleading to go home. I could not possibly be more in agreement with her progression — not just on parades but on almost every social event I’ve ever RSVP’d to.
I made Georgia stay through most of Rex — “your pediatrician is Rex, Georgia!” — but when I finally decided to give up on forcing us to have fun, we were both relieved to go home and change into our pajamas around 11 a.m.
With all said and done, I can safely declare that this was one of the best Carnival seasons I’ve had in a long time. I didn’t go to every single parade, nor did I skip them all — it was a pretty much perfect blend of seeing out-of-town friends and dancing and drinking and staying home and making soup and reading in the bathtub. The weather was ideal. The floats were gorgeous. The bands were amazing. The costumes were inspiring.
We all loved it. And we’re all glad it’s over.