My Mardi Gras Celebration (SunWE, 03/02/14, Mardi Gras)

Filed in Gather Writing Essential by on March 5, 2014 0 Comments

Challenge: In honour of Mardi Gras write a story (fiction or non-fiction), or a poem about one or more of the following: New Orleans, Masks, Beads, Costumes, Parades

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I finally decided to attend Mardi Gras in New Orleans and there were three things that influenced me to make that decision.

My first wife was a secretary in the State Department and had spent several years in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and had told me some fabulous tales about the Carnival they have in that country.

I was stationed in North Carolina and one of the Marines who worked for me was retiring. He made a point of telling me that I should come down to visit him for Mardi Gras. “We live about fifty miles from New Orleans and you won’t be able to get a room anywhere near the city. You can stay with us and I’ll take you in to watch the parades.”

Over the years I’ve seen so many pictures of young girls showing… um, showing things I enjoy seeing.

I planned it — overplanned it? — weeks ahead. I called Troy to let him know I was coming and he said the family was waiting to see me again. Even though I had been his OIC (Officer in Charge), we had been friends and our families had had many happy picnics and parties together.

It was a long trip and, when I studied the map, I realized I might have a problem. There were a lot of dirt roads in that area that had names — most didn’t — and many paved roads that had no names. It was about ten that night I realized I had no idea where I was, where Troy lived, and how I could find him without calling for help. Phew! Yes, men hate calling for help, but I pulled into a closed gas station, used the pay phone (this was in the days before cell phones), and called Troy’s number.

A male voice answered and I identified myself and asked for Troy.

“Oh, he and Aunt June are at the Mardi Gras parade.”

“When will they be home?”

There was a pause and then, “Well, the police chase everyone out at midnight so it’ll probably be about one before they’ll get here.”

“That’s great, I’m looking forward to seeing them.” Then I had to admit the dumb part. “Look, I’ve been driving around for a couple hours trying to find their house. I have the address, but none of the streets in this area are marked. Can you help me?”

He asked me what address I had, I told him, and there was silence from the phone. A long silence and I started to wonder if the line had gone dead when he said, “Where are you calling from?”

“I don’t know.” There, I’d said it. “I’m at a small Shell gas station on a dirt road just west of Whitlow Court.”

More silence and I started to wonder about the intelligence level of the guy on the other end of the phone. “A pay phone in a Shell gas station?”

Well, I had just said that so I admitted, “Yes.”

“Is there an old, dirty, gray house across the street from that gas station?”

I looked and saw such a house. “Yes.”

Several seconds of silence and then the front door of the house opened. “Did the door just open in that house?”

Oh, no, it couldn’t be. “Yes.”

“You see someone standing in the doorway waving?”

“Uh, yes.”

“Why don’t you drive on over here?” and the phone went dead!

JACKPOT! As I hung up the receiver there was a jingling sound from the phone and I reached in to find several dimes and nickels in the coin return. I should probably mention that it was the highlight of my trip.

I drove across the street, parked in a driveway that was mostly mud, and walked up to the front door where George was waiting for me. As he ushered me into the house he asked, “What you doing here now?”

“Troy invited me to come down for Mardi Gras. He said he’d take me in to see all the parades.”

I’m sure you’ve already figured out what was wrong with what I did so I’ll just close it out by recapping the next few hours.

Troy and June got home about one thirty and we had a nice reunion. It was only then that Troy pointed out that Mardi Gras (the day) was the end of the Mardi Gras carnival, not the beginning!

I spent three days with the family and had a ball the whole time. Then I packed up and drove back to California. Ever after that, I was able to say:

Oh, yeah, I went to New Orleans for Mardi Gras one year. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

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