In Which the Author Goes to New Orleans, Meets Up With Old Friends, Gets Attacked by Flying Toilet Brushes, Drinks Vodka That Smells Like Cake, Watches Movies, Eats Food, and Generally Has a Good Time.
The journey began on February 12th, where I woke up fuck early in the morning and caught a bus to San Francisco, which allowed me to catch a direct flight to New Orleans. A thing you may or may not know about me: I don’t travel well for a variety of reasons, and I get insanely anxious about most major trips before I go on them, to the point that I almost always end up feeling trapped and inevitably want to back out completely and just hide in my apartment instead of, you know, going on vacation. There is absolutely no logical reason for any of this, and my dear sister was very patient with me for the weeks before I left. I feel like that should be publicly said. She’s kind of a saint.
The flight to New Orleans was relatively smooth, save for the thirty minute delay before we took off when the computer “wasn’t working properly,” always something you want to hear before you go up tens of thousands of feet in the air. But make it, we did, and soon I was in Louisiana, the . . . Pelican State? Maybe? Google “Louisiana State Nicknames” and you get six different options. Some other alternatives include Creole State, Child of the Mississippi, and Sportsman’s Paradise. Honestly, that last one just seems sad.
I was the last of our party to arrive in New Orleans. You see, this trip wasn’t just about Mardi Gras. First and foremost, it was a mini Clarion West reunion, but when one of your friends lives ringside to one of the biggest parties in the country, well. Two birds, one stone, you know how it goes.
Bryan and James, swell guys that they are, picked me up at the airport. We then joined the others for a parade, well, three parades, actually. Here’s the interesting thing about Mardi Gras: all I really knew about it was what TV had told me: everyone drinks a lot and women flash their ta-tas for beads. Much to what I’m sure will be the disappointment of my coworkers, this was not exactly my experience with Mardi Gras, partially because we didn’t spend much of it on Bourbon Street, partially because I’m a reserved sort of person, and partially because why bother flashing anything when you can get smacked in the face with beads for doing nothing at all?
See, Mardi Gras is apparently chock full of parades, and the crews on the parades throw all manner of items to the crowds: beads, cups, shoes, rubber duckies, stuffed animals, Valentines Day spears, etc. Here is my Mardi Gras loot:
And here’s what was leftover on the ground after a full day and night of parades:
See? You can flash your boobs if you really want, ladies, or you can just, like, pick up stuff. (Honestly, no one really flashes anything in the part of town where we were at. It’s more of a family oriented place, I guess, although let’s be clear here: there was still, like, ALL the drinking going on.)
The parades were a lot of fun, although surprisingly kind of exhausting, particularly on Saturday when we left the house at seven in the morning and didn’t get back until around midnight. They also ended up being quite painful because there’s something else you may or may not know about me: despite my best intentions as a child, I am a miserable athlete and have fairly poor hand-eye coordination. My immediate family members can all relate various stories of watching me take soccer balls, basketballs, and softballs to the face, head, and neck. Now I have new stories of athletic failure: I managed to take a bag of beads (pictured above) to the shoulder, various strands of beads to the head, a very heavy metal shoe ornament to the foot, and an honest to god Valentine’s Day toilet brush to the face. And if you happen to own one of those plastic, lightweight toilet brushes, then get that bullshit out of your mind because this was like a heavy duty rod that made an audible SMACK as it slammed into my nose and tried its best to break my glasses. (It only succeeded in loosening in them, though, ha! Foiled again, toilet brush!)
Despite any possible concussions, I had a pretty awesome time. It’s fun to get free stuff, even if you’re catching it with your face. It’s also fun when you have awesome buddies who give you their cool catches because they know you have a weird rubber ducky collection and yet still like you for some reason. I am now the proud owner of a large sparkly blue duck and a smaller duck with no eyes. It is the best.
Some pics hanging out at the parade:
Detective James snuck into nearly all of my parade pictures. You can’t trust that one. He’s sneaky. And, yes, I did buy myself a silly, giant, green squid hat. Look, everyone needs one, okay? You don’t know when that thing could come in handy.
We also spent some time in the French Quarter, looking around, shopping, and eating beignets. (Bryan and Beth Anne, our hosts, were super gracious and put up with our need for touristy shit, although I don’t suppose the beignets were too much of an inconvenience — beignets don’t strike me as something that makes people think, “Oh, no, not more sugary goodness.”) There were two masks I desperately wanted to buy, as either one would have instantly won me every Best Cenobite costume contest ever, but as they were both well above my price range, I made do with another cheaper yet still awesome mask and some great devil horns that match my wardrobe surprisingly well.
Bourbon Street is interesting. Has anyone else here ever seen The Stand miniseries? (Or just read the book, I suppose.) So, spoilers: the Bad People go congregate in Vegas, and that’s what Bourbon Street reminded me of: the apocalypse had come, and the wicked had taken over. Mind you, it was still relatively early in the night, so I’m sure that it wasn’t even all that crazy yet, which only tells me that at the tender age of 29, I’m already too old for the party scene. So sad and yet in no way surprising.
Thankfully, there is no age limit on enjoying food and alcohol. I tried a bunch of new things on this trip, actually. A short list of my culinary adventures:
Rib-eye Steak: Okay, maybe I’ve had this cut of steak before; I’m not sure. I don’t eat steak very often, mostly because it’s fucking expensive, and I have this whole guilt reflex thing sometimes. But this was possibly the best damn steak I’ve ever had.
King Cake Vodka: Oh my god, where has this been all my life? Well, I’ll tell you: New Orleans, which is apparently where it will stay because I can’t actually buy it here in California. I know, I checked. But this vodka is amazing; for one, it smells like cake, not rubbing alcohol. For another, it doesn’t even taste like rubbing alcohol. And miracle of miracles: it mixes well with Coke, and I’ve just never been a big fan of mixing Coke with anything (unless, of course, you mix it with EVERYTHING). That’s just ruining a perfectly good soda. This, however, was damn yummy. (Huw declared it as vile, but I discount Huw’s opinions on alcohol. He only likes gentlemen’s beverages, you see. I’m considerably less classy.)
Blackened Catfish Atchafalaya: I’m pretty sure that’s what it was, anyway, and it was surprisingly tasty. There was another fish I also liked, but I can’t remember what it was called now, only that the server deemed it a “fishy fish.” Apparently, I’ve grown out of my childhood hatred of seafood. Salad, no. Anything bitter, no. But fish is okay.
Oysters: I was less fond of these, though. The taste was all right, I guess, but texturally it was kind of . . . slimy? I feel like that may not be quite the right word. Regardless, not really a fan.
Absinthe: Also not a fan, although I only had a sip.
Pimm’s Cup: Okay, I can’t remember if this is actually the name. Pimms sounds right, though, and that’s what Google’s giving me. I was told that the drink normally tastes quite different, which, I’d kind of hope so. I mean, free alcohol is free alcohol, so thanks, Beth Anne and Bryan. Still. I couldn’t finish it, sorry.
Birthday Oreos: I actually don’t like these very much. I was a little surprised at myself.
Beignets: These were pretty yummy, though. Very rich. Very messy.
King Cake: Okay, but not nearly as mind-blowing as the vodka. Also, I didn’t get the baby. Sadface.
Red Beans and Rice: Good. Little spicy for me, even though I damn well know Beth Anne made it considerably less spicy for sad little people like me. (I take that back. I will continue to maintain that my lower tolerance for spice is simply because I have superpowers and can taste complexities in what you mere mortals call “bland food.” Don’t try to ruin this for me. My tasting powers are godlike.)
Gumbo: Yum. I’ll take another bowl, please.
After Saturday, our group did a lot less touristy/Mardi Gras stuff. Some of us were sick, some of us were hungover, and some of us (me, certainly) were lazy assholes who needed a serious recharge after three pretty full days of activity. So instead, we stayed in and talked a lot of nerd stuff and watched a bunch of movies. (I don’t think I’m going to review any of them, so I’ll just say that I mostly enjoyed Coherence, didn’t really enjoy Monsters, and thought 13 Assassins was okay.) It’s nice to just be able to chill out with my CW friends, playing Cards Against Humanity or scrambling around the dining room table to watch the Age of Ultron trailer when we realized one of our group had never seen it. And never mind the fact that everyone else had already watched it several times over; we basically reenacted that scene in The Matrix where everyone hastily leaves their food behind to go watch Neo and Morpheus kick the crap out of each other.
Finally, I said goodbye last Thursday and made the long and honestly pretty lousy journey home, for Thursday was also the day I succumbed to the cold going around, and I did my level best to infect the 400 or so passengers I was flying with. You’re welcome, guys. I’m still getting over that cold now, as a matter of fact, and have since passed it on to my sister as well because that’s how you reward your patient siblings: with illness. You’re welcome too, Mekaela.
It’s good to be back home — I do love my California — but New Orleans was one hell of a town to visit, even if these ta-tas stayed firmly hidden beneath my shirt.