Hey you guys! Today I was trying to figure out why Snoopy, the CMPD Patrol Helicopter, AKA my best friend, was out and about in my hood. Then I realized that you guys might not know about Snoopy! So here is a little introduction to Snoop and how we came to know and love and mutually respect one another. Also, there might be someone living in my house that will pop out any second and murder me. No big deal.
Whew! What a grand adventure we have been on, y’all! And it is already Ash Wednesday! So, Happy Ash Wednesday! And if you are not up to speed, scroll on down this page, as this is part three of a four part series devoted to my one and only time at Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Trust me, as soon as I get to Bitch Slap, you’re gonna wish you were up to speed. Speaking of, maybe we just start there? Nah, we will save him for last. Let’s start with the beads.
The third night of Mardi Gras was spent walking down Bourbon with two of my best friends, Melody and Kasey, while successfully avoiding being vomited on, being groped by drunk men, being propositioned by prostitutes, and avoiding the other half of our traveling party. We were successful, for the most part. Melody got a hankering for beads that night, and well, she collected them the good, old-fashioned way. There’s probably a video compilation on YouTube called: Drunk College Girls at Mardi Gras 2011, and Melody is for sure in the reel. Here was her haul from one night.
Kasey and I, on the other hand, realized you could also get beads by asking, Hey, can I have some of your beads? People are so drunk they are like, Hellz yeah you can, sweet thang! Take my beads! And then it rains beads! We didn’t tell Melody.
The three of us got separated for a short moment amid the sea of people. And trust me, it is a sea of people. So much in fact, that with each passing block a new wave joins in and it isn’t long before you realize that you are walking super fast, or maybe super slow, depending on the crowd and the amount of collective alcohol consumed. We connected rather quickly, to find that Melody had amassed even more beads, we didn’t ask. But Kasey and I did pose with the kick-ass horse cops.
This was right before we were looking for them because someone legit tried to steal my camera off of Melody’s neck. Like, we were walking and a dude came up, walking the other direction and grabbed the lens and tried to rip the camera off Melody’s neck. She instinctively grabbed it and shoved him and he kept walking. It happened in one swift second. It really just came in with the wave, then back out again. We should have known then to protect our valuable items better, but nah…
Once we were safely back at the hotel, we decided to throw some beads ourselves. The Crown Plaza had an excellent balcony and we had one section of it all to ourselves. The other part of our group got back, all a bit drunk, and we enjoyed Mardi Gras for the first time from on high.
This is where we decide that the next night, the last night of our trip, was going to be balls to the wall amazing! We were amped up to head back to the bead store and LOAD up, and then stay on our balcony the last night and really get into the throwing of beads, cause damn it was fun. Something about watching people act a total fool in exchange for plastic beads is just the bees knees. But trust, you don’t have to go to Mardi Gras to do it.
So the next day we woke up AMPED, y’all! We had breakfast, then hit the day hard. We split up again, this time the girls wanted to do some shopping and Melody, Kasey, and I had only one plan: Tattoos! Shit yeah! #OhToBeYoungAgain
We Googled: Best Tattoo Parlor in New Orleans and got no less than 45 hits. We settled on one called, Electric Ladyland, because, uhh, what a great name. Not only is it a Jimi Hendrix album title, but hello, we FELT, way deep down in our souls that we were in Electric. Lady. Land. Plus they were open noon to midnight so it fit our sched.
Now up until this point I only had one tattoo. An apple. On my thigh. That my best friend’s husband gave me in a tattered tattoo chair in their basement ten years before. So, I was a bit inexperienced. Melody and Kasey, though, they are tatted up and they have been together and I was excited to be part of the team. Up until I walked through the door at Electric Ladyland Tattoo.
Listen, no one told me that sometimes tattoo artists kind of, uhh, shake a little when they talk. Like the guy, whose name I have been trying to remember, but I just can’t, like was shaking. His whole body sort of hummed. The whole process took about thirty minutes, they were really not very busy for some reason, and I told him what I wanted, my son’s name on my foot, with a sort of different font. Not really a child’s writing, but also not like Gothic. He drew it up and I loved it immediately. But I could not stop wondering how it would turn out considering he shook so violently the whole time he was drawing that at one point I felt compelled to steady the table for him.
Melody was already in a chair getting music notes behind her ears, on her actual fucking head, when I sat down. Kasey had chickened out last minute, either because she hates me, or because she assessed the situation pretty quickly. Still not sure to this day, but Melody was pissed. I had mad respect for her though. I was just about to go join her when the gun started up and he attacked my foot. It was over before it felt like he finished and I was all set up. My son’s name looked exactly like he had drawn, exactly how I had envisioned. Dude asked if I liked it, as his whole upper body sort of seized up in the shakes. I smiled my reply, and he gave me a solid with metal fingers. Weird ass stuff man. Weird ass stuff Electric Ladyland. Weird ass stuff. Afterward we walked down to a little seafood joint with bars on the windows and I had the best Po’boy, fried okra, and collard greens ever. Then we made our way back to our hotel to watch some of the parade.
When we got back to the hotel we were met by MIL and the rag-tag team of weirdos who were all a little mad that we went and got tattoos without them. We explained that we told them that was the plan for that day and they should have come with us, rather than hitting up Walmart… again. The dust settled and we went to the rooftop lounge to watch the longest parade I have every witnessed. Long, y’all. Like somebody coulda warned a bitch long.
At some point, fueled by her lingering anger at Kasey for not partaking at the tattoo shop, Melody reached out in front of Kasey and grabbed some wicked-cool beads not just from Kasey, but also from, if I remember correctly, a small child. Or maybe an elderly woman. Either way, we were like, Mel, dude. And she stormed off angry, but still clutching her sweet-ass beads. This angered Kasey, who sort of left the group for a bit, we assume to drank some purple drank and have sex with an unknown man, but we can’t be sure. Ho hum.
As the sun went down, we decided to get ready for a night of bead throwing. We decided that we were just gonna wear pajamas. It wasn’t like we were leaving the hotel, and they were comfy and we had feathered boas, so it was a win-win.
Speaking of win-wins! That was the night we walked into the weirdos room and got to see Pasty-girl swing her tassels. Some of y’all have never stood three inches from a woman who has tassels hanging from her nipples as she spins them for your enjoyment, and it shows. THEN, as if the Mardi Gras Queen herself hadn’t bestowed enough wishes on us, Titty-Tina, who by then trusted us (on account of Melody’s bead collection) informed us that they were headed out to meet up with Bitch Slap and she was bringing him back to the hotel! Fucking score! We were finally gonna meet Bitch Slap! We were high on life, y’all. And homemade Purple Drank!
Like most fun, exciting nights of drinking with your best friends, in your pajamas, at a swanky-ass hotel in New Orleans in your twenties, shit went south quickly.
As soon as we stepped on the balcony, we attracted some freaks. Maybe it was that we had very little make-up on, or maybe it was the fact that Kasey was sort of exuding touch my boobs vibes, or maybe it was the feathered boas, but we had some man-boys on us like Bitch-Slap on a $5 lap dance at da club. At one point I was batting man-boys away while I was trying to text my lovely, trusting, adorable husband at home. Melody was drunk texting that guy in Arizona whose name I think was Dutch, but it could also be Sweden, and I looked over to see Kasey, her homemade Purple Drank on the ground, beads around her neck, and a little Latino man with his hands directly on her boobs. They were rubbing and grinding and like two good friends, Melody and I looked at each other, then ran inside to get away from that mess.
In the hallway off the balcony we were contemplating our next move, when we heard the roaring laughter of Titty-Tina and the entourage coming up the escalator. And there he was. Shining like the Cash Money sign on his neck, the man, the myth, the legend: Bitch Slap! Bitch Slap in da Houzzz I screamed at I ran toward him like we were old college drinking buds. He appreciated the love and Bitch Slap and I spent the better part of the next hour watching Kasey getting felt up by three generations of Latinos while we discussed his sweet ass 1973 El Camino that he promised to take me for a ride in.
At some point Melody snuck away to call Sweden and I decided to cut my talk with Bitch Slap short. He half-heartedly asked me if he should accompany me on my search for Melody and when I declined, he casually invited me to have sex with Titty-Tina and him later that night. Then he told me his room number and said to knock three times. And with a wink of his tattooed eye lid, he was gone. I looked at Kasey, who was sort of topless, but seemed to be enjoying herself, and I started for the hotel room.
I found Melody holed up in a hotel bathroom, trying to find a plug-in for her phone. I told her that we should just go take the phone to the room to charge and fill up our drinks. On the way up I explained my proposition and she quickly decided that we would wait until about 2 am, then run up to the door, knock three times, then quietly disappear, unlike the STD I was bound get if I took the lovely couple up on their offer. After we plugged her phone in and refilled, she asked if she could use my phone on the way down to call Sweden to tell him goodnight. Or something. Honestly, I’m not sure, but she ended up with my iPhone, which is intregal to the story.
Right off the elevator we ran into the group of Latinos man-boys, who were being rowdy and speaking Spanish very loudly. So Melody, being from Arizona, tried to say she knew what they were saying. This attracted them to us, and a man-boy came up to us with a smile and grabbed my boob. I wasn’t wearing a bra, because pajamas, so this utterly grossed me out. I had never had a stranger just touch me in that way, and I stopped dead in my tracks. In hindsight, I should have called it a night then. But instead I went out to check on Kasey, who was now with the rest of the crew living it up Mardi Gras style, having told the man-boys to take a hike.
By the time I went back inside Melody was sitting in a chair by the second balcony. The one the man-boys had made their way to. She got up when she saw me and suggested we try to go throw some beads, so we joined the group. I had already called Jerimiah to tell him about the boob grab and he was furious and I was a little grossed out and sad. Melody was sort of over the whole bead throwing, so we decided to call it a night. That’s when I figured I would call Jerimiah back and tell him goodnight. That is also when I realized I didn’t have my phone. That is also when I realized Melody had it on that chair, so we went over to the chair.
One of the man-boys was sitting in the chair. He looked either asleep or dead. In hindsight, I’d guess he was pretending so we didn’t bother him. We did a lap around the floor and when we came back he was gone and so was my phone. We ran up to call Jerimiah on Melody’s phone. He pinged my phone and said it was on the balcony of the hotel. So we went back. He was giving us directions to the man-boys balcony, so we went out. They were all standing there laughing when we walked out. I walked up to the oldest looking one and told him to give me my phone back. He pretended that he didn’t speak English, so I went downstairs to the hotel security.
By this time we had attracted attention and some of the man-boys dispersed. But the oldest one was still there when we came back with security and I told them my husband said it was around where we were. The security guard asked if they had a phone and suggested giving it back, least charges would be filed. They laughed and called us crazy girls. The security guard took me inside and explained there was really nothing they could do about it, so I didn’t have proof. So that was that.
Then Melody and I made sure Kasey was with the group, then we went upstairs and ordered the most expensive chicken wings I have ever had, and went to sleep. Bleh. Mardi Gras.
Mardi Gras literally translates to Fat Tuesday. Fat Tuesday is a day to indulge in all the things you intend to give up for Lent. It is called Fat Tuesday because on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday you are expected to indulge. Cakes, and breads, rich meats and sauces. Items that many will give up in preparation for Easter, which comes exactly six weeks later. Fat Tuesday is positioned right after Carnival and right before Lent. The purpose of Lent is to prepare for Easter through prayer, doing penance, repentance of sins, almsgiving, and self-denial. The purpose of Carnival, is to drink as many Hand Grenades as you can, while you drunk-hobble down Bourbon Street, your boobs hanging freely, and people pelt you with strings of 25 cent beads while you scream, “Shit yeah, Mardi Gras is awesome cock-suckers!” I think.
Listen, this is Part Deux, in what is shaping up to be a four part series, of my one and only trip to Mardi Gras back in February 2011 with my Mother-in-Law, two of my best friends, and a rag tag team of weirdos who had never left southeast Kansas. To get up to speed Imma need you to check this out first: https://missygoodnight.com/2019/03/01/corner-of-bourbon-and-canal/ I think it would be best so you are aware of all the, uhh, specifics before you jump right into this one. But, if you are so inclined to start here, well, then I like you. Go for it! Bonne chance!
Now where was I? Oh, yes. Do y’all remember when we were getting out of the car in a hurry at valet because we were being rushed and also because we needed to help MIL unload Peggy’s sweet-ass van, as all the occupants of that van were staring wide-eyed into the streets unable to move? Well then, do you remember that we were quite pleased with ourselves about the speed and accuracy with which we exited our car, with the exception of one thing: Purple nail polish? Yeah, okay.
So the first night, before we got sloshed on Bourbon with a mixture of Hand Grenades and Huge-Ass Beers, we tidied up a bit. Well, Melody and Kasey tidied up a bit. I slapped some more deodorant on and called it good. The girls in the other room took showers, did their hair, the whole nine yards, so we had some time to kill waiting for them. During that time Melody was debating whether or not to ask for the car just so she could get her purple nail polish. Kasey and I were trying to convince her that it was dumb, and just to forget about painting her nails. Then MIL pops in from the bathroom is all I have purple nail polish! Yay! Crisis averted. Melody used the nail polish, then we all left to get totally obliterated.
The next morning went like you would expect. It sucked. We were all hungover, there was no way we wanted to pay for room service to bring us all the best hangover foods, and we didn’t really have a plan for the day, save buying more beads (it became apparent that we were gonna NEED a lot of beads) and getting a tattoo. Yeah, that was a goal for the weekend. Le sigh. We were all a little tired when the weirdos next to us were knocking on the door at what felt like 6:00 am, but was probably closer to 8:00 am. I rolled over to see this:
What happened next was a situation that to this day is called, The Purple Nail Polish Incident and it has varied truths. But this is how I remember it.
Cranky MIL: Melody, where is my purple nail polish?
Cranky Melody: I don’t know, dude.
Cranky MIL: Well you had it last night.
Cranky Melody (elevated tone): I gave it back to you.
Cranky MIL: No you didn’t. That’s the problem. You should have given…
Cranky Melody: OMIGOD, yes I did!
Cranky MIL: Nope. I don’t have it.
Kasey (in a whisper): Dude, get her the purple nail polish.
Me (getting up to start to look for purple nail polish): Where did you have it last?
Cranky Melody: I don’t know when I HANDED IT TO HER!
Cranky MIL: You never HANDED anything to me.
Me (getting side-tracked because I am hungry): Whose bagel is this?
Kasey (standing up to help look): It’s left over from last night.
Cranky MIL: I wish I could paint my nails this morning…
Cranky Melody (throws blankets off her): ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?
Cranky MIL: You are supposed to return things you borrow…
Cranky Melody: I DID RETURN IT.
Me (biting on a day old bagel): Dude, just get up and look for it.
Cranky Melody: Why don’t we just go to Walmart again today and spend three hours there looking for purple nail polish and other shit we don’t need?!
Cranky MIL: We might have to since I don’t have purple nail polish anymore.
Me (feeling something in my mouth that is not bagel): Melody, get up.
Cranky MIL: It’s fine. I just wish I had my purple nail polish.
Cranky Melody (jumping out of the bed): OH MY GOD! Don’t say PURPLE NAIL POLISH ONE MORE DAMN TIME.
Then Melody walks over to dresser and grabs the purple nail polish as MIL walks out of the bathroom and she hands it to MIL.
Cranky MIL: Thank you.
Cranky Melody: YOU’RE WELCOME.
Me: You guys, this bagel broke my tooth.
Weirdos next door knock again.
Kasey (opens curtains): It’s going to be a good day!
Deep breathes. Yeah, so. I am sure that MIL and Melody have different versions, but you know, this is my blog. And, did we just skate by the fact that I broke my tooth on a bagel? In hindsight, it was more likely the 15 or so Blow Pops I crunched on the drive down, but that hard bagel took it over the edge. So there we all were. Four women. One with a broken tooth. One with purple toes nails, one without. And Kasey. The forever optimist. What happened next can only be explained by the desire to be a united front.
MIL explained to us that the other four weirdos had never been to the beach. Or maybe one had, I can’t exactly remember. The point is, while we all have been to several beaches, in different countries, and different regions, the ladies next door needed a win, so she asked what we thought about driving the hour and a half to Gulfport, Mississippi, all eight of us in Peggy’s sweet-ass van, to show the weirdos the ocean. We all looked at each other when she used the word ocean. Well, okay, she corrected. The Gulf Coast. Melody, Kasey, and I looked at each other. Their make-up still smudged from the night before, circles under our eyes, me holding my tooth, and we nodded in agreement. Let’s give them a thrill.
You know what they say, “Girl, your brown eyes sparkle like the Gulf Coast waters!” Just a reminder that this was less than a year after the BP oil spill off the Gulf Coast of Mexico. So there was literal oil to be unearthed on the beach. We know cause we found it. Only we didn’t scream OIL! and call the Clampetts. We sort of, uhh, ignored it. Then jumped in for a swim. Eek. The photo below was captured by a stranger on the random beach we stopped at in Gulfport.
Two hours later Kasey, Melody, and I sat in Peggy’s sweet-ass van with Pasty-girl (whose name I was recently reminded was April, but I can’t change it now) while the other ladies spent way too long in yet ANOTHER Walmart. At this point Melody and I were not speaking to each other because she had been texting some dude who lives in Arizona who she didn’t really know and I he was planning to come for a visit, and I was like BAD IDEA Hombre. And she was all, I know what I am doing. I mean she was 25, she obviously didn’t need me telling her how to live her life. So we had spent the ride to this random Walmart somewhere between Mississippi and Louisiana, in the way, way back of the van. Kasey was forced to sit between us, and the three of us sat silently as we listened to Titty Tina offer the body guard services of her ex-boyfriend who lived in NOLA, because he was not, quote, afraid to bitch slap anyone who deserved it. End quote. And that’s how we first learned of Bitch-Slap. And the stifled laughter between the three of us in the way, way back over what we collectively knew would be his name from now until eternity, is what mended the strained friendship.
While the “old girls” went into Walmart, Kasey, Melody, and I stayed in Peggy’s sweet-ass van with Pasty-girl. MIL had taken the keys, so we didn’t have air. Probably because, #PurpleNailPolish, and so we sat with the doors open, sweating in our slightly damp clothes, and listened to Pasty-girl recount all the men she’d slept with. One of her conquests ended up being a family member of mine, uhh, by marriage. And we all nodded our head in agreement, cause yeah, that made sense. It wasn’t MIL.
Back in NOLA things took an exciting turn. After the feud ended in the van, someone, ahem, Kasey, came up with a great idea. It was Tammie’s birthday, and she was ready to par-tay! So Kasey, presumably caught up in the excitement of being in the way, way back of Peggy’s sweet-ass van, decided that every time Tammie said, It’s my birthday! of which she said every 20 minutes or so, we were all to scream, Happy Birthday! So as you can imagine, hilarity ensued. Until the crying started at dinnertime.
We had decided to go out to dinner that night at a seafood place called Deanie’s Seafood. It was supposed to be the best seafood in the French Quarter and this was back when, well, we believed claims like that. So we all washed the oil off of us and decided to convene for the walk over to Deanie’s around 5:00 pm. At about 4:45, Tammie knocked on our door to inform us that Janie was crying.
We all walked over to find a distraught Janie. She was upset because everyone else was so fancy, and she wasn’t. She had only packed, I want to say, two pink shirts and some jeans. Sigh. MIL quickly offered up some of her clothes, an offer Janie sort of smirked at, while Melody, Kasey, and I tried to get her to just try one of MIL shirts, they were nice. Then I offered one of mine. Then so on. The girls showed her that they were all wearing jeans, but she said their shirts were fancy too. I explained that my fancy shirt was the same one that I jumped into the Gulf with. Didn’t matter. Then we offered to go look for a fancy shirt for her, but she declined. The crying eventually stopped so we all just shrugged and walked to Deanie’s. I dunno.
Listen. Dinner was a mess, y’all. I ordered shrimp, but it had all the tentacles and what not on it, so MIL had to peel them for me because I can’t with that shit. Then Janie asked her to accompany her to the bathroom at some point. If I was the Mommy of Kasey, Mel, and me, then MIL was the Mommy of the weirdos (and sometimes us) and it was starting to weigh on her. But at least every time Tammie said, It’s my birthday! We all screamed in unison, Happy Birthday! At least.
After dinner we had reservations for a walking Haunted History Tour, which was ABSOFUCKINGLUTELY the BEST part of the trip! If y’all have the opportunity to do a walking history tour in NOLA, do it! At one point Melody, Kasey, and I had to separate from the weirdos and go to the back of the tour because we were so engrossed in the history and the stories that we wanted to listen, not drink and scream Happy Birthday! We were shunned. Let’s just say that. But yeah, worth it.
Birthday girl was a little drunk after the tour, so we tried to sober her up with a trip to Cafe Du Monde.
At this point the stories diverge. We decided that we wanted to go a chill bar and listen to some of that New Orleans Jazz we heard so much about, and well, the crew was having none of that, so we went our separate ways. I can’t tell you what they did, but I think it had to do with dancing on bars (sans MIL and Janie) and karaoke, and probably shots. But Kasey, Melody, and I went for a walk along the river, then settled into a cool little jazz spot that had outdoor seating. We had the pleasure of enjoying a muffuletta while we listened to a cool, little jazz quartet for an hour or so, before we headed back to the hotel. I have no pics from that time because, well, that is how chill and relaxing and nice it was. The calm, if you will, before the storm.
If you are still reading this, bless your heart. (That is what people say to patronize others here in the south.) You are a trooper. Really, you are. But this seems like a good break spot. We have covered quite a bit of ground today, and I left quite a bit out. For your pleasure. Thanks for traveling down memory lane with me. Two parts left. And I promise they won’t be worth it. As a parting gift I have included some more pics of Day Two.
I’ve been to Mardi Gras in New Orleans. I should really stop there. Save myself from the inevitable torment that comes every single time I recount the story. I get tense, and anxious. I can’t sleep. My body gets achy, like the flu is about to take over. Or maybe it’s just the ghost of Marie Laveau II, who still rightly frightens me. That’s what it is. I am afraid that if I delve into the past, and recount the events that transpired on those four sleepless nights at the end of February in 2011, the ghost of Marie Laveau II will come back into my life, spitting and shrieking, assuring me all the bad things will happen again. But here I am, acting against my better judgment, just like my time spent on the corner of Bourbon Street and Canal many moons ago. This story is so varied, so full of life, so mysterious and wonderful and dreadful and wrong, I would be a disservice to attempt to tell it all at once, so I won’t. I will tell the tale of my time at Mardi Gras in parts, and if you feel like hopping down this dangerous, but ultimately delightfully stinky rabbit hole, then read on. But it’s certainly at your own risk.
I honestly don’t remember how it started. I’m not sure if my friends, Melody and Kasey, suggested we go, or if my mother-in-law decided she would go and invite us along. Someone decided they would go to Mardi Gras that year, and invited the other. My MIL took the reins, being the only person in the group who had ever been to NOLA before. She cashed in some of her hotel points and got us a pimp view at the Crown Plaza Hotel on the corner of Bourbon and Canal Streets. Right in the heart of the French Quarter, a stone’s throw away from Old Man River, and smack dab in the middle of the Carnival action. I think her friend Peggy was supposed to come along, then couldn’t last minute, but my MIL had already secured Peggy’s PIMP minivan, so she decided to invite a few other ladies she knew from her home town. So my MIL (I won’t use her real name to protect the guilty), Janie, Tammie, Pasty-girl, and Titty Tina (I’m using aliases here for a couple of the girls for two reasons. 1. I don’t remember Pasty-girl’s name but she legit wore pasties on her nips one night, and 2. Nah, it’s really just number 1) all hopped in the van in Southeast Kansas and headed south. Mind you, none of these women had ever been to NOLA, and two of the five had never been outside Southeast Kansas (unless you count Joplin, MO and anywhere in Oklahoma, and I don’t.)
Kasey and Melody and I set out from my house in Branson, Missouri on the morning of February 24th. I guess someone watched my kid, cause yeah, I was the only one who had a kid-kid at the time. A toddler, and I would suppose that my husband took the time off work to stay home with him. What a saint that man is. We left on a Thursday, cause why not? We loaded up my VW Passat, which meant I was the only one who could drive, since I was the only one who could drive a manual. Really smart on my part. (I guess maybe I had the safest car of the lot. Eek!) I should take a minute to inform you all that I was 29 years old. So on the FAR, FAR end of the proper age to be going to Mardi Gras. Kasey was closest in age to me at a whopping 26, and Mel was, well, Mel was giving us the gift of her youth at 24. Which left me as the Mommy, Kasey as the annoying big sister, and Melody as the spoiled baby, as it were. Which is why when the first fight happened, somewhere in Arkansas, over whether or not Kasey should have included Dave Matthews Band on the mix cd, I jumped into “Mom” mode and never really recovered. Which made me, well, uncool, and also a bit out of sorts for the rest of the trip. More on that later.
My MIL left a bit before we did from Kansas, and the plan was to meet up somewhere near Memphis several hours later. Remember, she had a van full of women who had barely ventured outside of Kansas, with her being the only exception. She was in the military for many moons and is a worldly-traveler. Which is why it took so long to valet park the cars at the hotel. She had to explain over and over again that it was totally safe, that we would get Peggy’s PIMP van back, and that they needed to be “fast”, like storming the beaches of Normandy fast, and they should have money in hand to tip all the people helping us. They were confounded. It was painful to watch. But, whoa now, I am getting ahead of myself.
We ended up meeting on some sketch-ass back road along the Arkansas/Tennessee line. If you haven’t spent a lot of time on the Arkansas/Tennessee line, you should thank your lucky stars. It’s scary. This is where we were first introduced to the rag-tag team that came with MIL. We pulled into a gas station to see them all crawling out of Peggy’s van. As Melody, Kasey, and I approached the van, one of the doors slid open and a loud and robust woman said, “Y’all gonna show your titties?!” You guessed it, that was Tina. Then we met Tammie, who I already kinda, sorta knew, and then that one girl, then Janie, who looked like all of our grandmas, explained she had never been outside of Columbus, Kansas. Awesome! This is sort of where the regret started to set in.
After a quick stop we were back on the road. We decided to follow Peggy’s Sweet-ass van, since MIL knew where she was going. However, it wasn’t too long before MIL seemed to not know where she was going and Snoop Dogg (we programed my GPS to sound like Snoop Dogg) was all, “Hey Cuz, you missed your turn back there, ya dig?” And I was frantically calling MIL to tell her what Snoop had said. Meanwhile, the chatter in the van was so loud she couldn’t really hear me, and we kept on going that way. In the end it only added thirty minutes or so, but that was a LONG-ASS thirty minutes or so, Cuz.
Our next stop was at a Walmart right outside of NOLA. By this time we were in Creeper Louisiana and everyone we met asked if we were headed down to “M’gra”, I think. I didn’t understand a lot of what was said to me. Everyone seemed drunk and there was so much Mardi Gras merchandise that we lost all our senses. We loaded up gobs and gobs of 25 cent beads, and noise-makers, ribbon, t-shirts, masks, and King Cake. We left Walmart thinking we were prepared for all that was coming.
Below is a pic of the whole crew, minus me, the photographer, at the Walmart gas station somewhere along Lake Pontchartrain after a supercalifragilistically-long trip to a Walmart, where maybe some of the ladies saw Black people for the first time, I can’t be sure.
It wasn’t long before we were pulling up to the Crown Plaza on the corner of Bourbon and Canal. It was late, probably 10 pm or so, and we were dog-ass tired, but seeing the lights of the French Quarter and having eaten fifteen or so Blow Pops on the way, gave us a jolt of excitement that carried us through the next half hour or so of the “check-in” process. First there was the valet parking. If you have been to NOLA, to the French Quarter to be exact, and have stayed in a hotel you probably know that there is zero parking. You valet your car, then they take it to some undisclosed location and bring it to you whenever you call for it. This is the case for many big cities with limited parking, and you would know that if you had, say, every been to one of those big cities. My car was cool. We knew what to do. We hopped out to a barrage of people yelling orders, slipping tips into palms, drunk people barfing on the corner, men fighting, and cars honking. We took on thing at a time. We knew we had to get our bags to the bellhop, then hand over the keys, then get to our room, then we would be able to take it all in.
The occupants of Peggy’s Sweet-ass van, however, were totally numb to everything. They stood, wide-eyed, mouths agape, on the street taking it all in at that exact moment, as MIL unloaded the ENTIRE van and yelled at them to get their asses over there and help because we were holding up the valet line and people were pissed. Whew. Melody, Kasey, and I got our shit unloaded, our car sent away, our tips distributed, and quickly found ourselves inside this beautiful hotel with everything we needed except one bottle of purple nail polish that Mel had accidentally left in the back seat. No big deal. Right? Right.
After we all reconvened, they all had their eyes filled with enough sin, and MIL checked us in, we headed upstairs to our rooms. One of the first things I recall was standing outside our rooms (two doubles next door to each other) and we realized for the first time that we had to share our room with one of the occupants of Peggy’s Sweet-ass van. Our inclination, was to pick MIL, if we had the pick, because duh. But as we were waiting at our door for our keys, Janie walked over to us like she as rooming with us. Now, listen. Janie is a sweet woman. Totes someone who knows a lot, she’s smart, and kind. But I can’t beat around the bush here. She was way outta her league, and honestly she would have been appalled by some of the shit that we talked about. So we all stood politely and smiled at her, waiting for MIL to sort it out. Of which she did by yelling, “Janie, get your ass over here” and pointing to the room with the other girls. Whew. Crisis averted. So that left MIL, Kasey, Melody, and me in one room. And Janie, Tammie, Titty-Tina, and Pasty-Girl in the other.
Let me pause here and explain something. This all happened eight years ago. We are far enough removed from the events that transpired to look back with rose-colored glasses and laugh. But at the time, some of this felt very serious and very wrong and very scary and very amusing and very fun and very fucked up. But again, I am choosing rose-colored glasses and I hope the other ladies are too.
As I said before, this story has to be told in sections. So I think this is a great place to stop. We went out and explored that evening, as late as it was. Melody had her ear licked by a stranger, we drank HUGE ASS beers. We saw a couple having sex. We saw several people vomit. We met our first Voodoo Priestess. We walked with the crowd, as one does at Mardi Gras, as one big wave headed deeper and deeper into the French Quarter. And for all the grossness we encountered that night. For all the laughs we had. For all the beer we drank. It only went down from there. Even after we found out that Titty-Tina had an ex named Bitch Slap who was in town and was coming to find us. But that is best saved for another time.
Enjoy some pics from the first night of Mardi Gras in February, 2011.