Well, I did my annual parade ride through the streets of New Orleans last Friday night and, as usual, it was a blast. Seeing a parade from the rider’s point of view is always an experience. A few random thoughts:
I ride a horse once a year. After two hours on that beast I always feel - and walk - like I’ve just been first prize at a prison dance. Which makes the question as to why I keep doing it year after year a legitimate one.
People, people… Just because you don’t think anyone can see you do what you’re doing because it’s dark and you’re drunk and stuff, doesn’t make it so. I can see you fine from where I’m perched. Please; get a hotel room. Or in this case, get a bus station bathroom.
The things we throw at Mardi Gras are essentially worthless. But for some unknown reason they are guaranteed activate long dormant genetic material, especially when stimulated with alcohol, and turn otherwise ordinary people into animalistic hooligans who will utterly debase themselves to obtain these things. As the guy passing out the swag, that’s not always a bad thing. (What happens at Mardi Gras, stays at Mardi Gras. OK? - ed.) But really, people. Mardi Gras is supposed to be fun.
Which brings me to ‘Clifford’s List of Behaviors That Will NOT Get You a Doubloon.’ To Wit:
The proper shout is “Throw me something, Mister” - not “Gimmie a doubloon”, or “Hey you”. Yell the latter two, or something similar or more profane, and you will end up with nothing.
Running along beside me begging me for a doubloon and/or explaining your terminal illness / desperate situation / sickness / relative’s sickness will get you nada. Please. I’m handing out near worthless bits of aluminum here, not spare kidneys.
Nets on a stick. Some folks think I will give them something over somebody else because they can thrust an insect net on a pole under my nose. I won’t. Doubly won’t so if you poke me with it to get my attention. Triple-ly won’t so if your net has the words “doubloon collector” written anywhere on it (see below).
Tossing something at me to get my attention. Look, I have more experience at tossing Mardi Gras throws than you do. I am more accurate than you, there’s a 99% chance I’m more sober than you, and I’m supposed to be tossing throws at you. So when the doubloons hit your beer and you spill it all over the girlfriend of that big, drunk biker next to you, well… sorry. Just sayin.
Tugging at my costume / tugging on the horse’s tail to get my attention, or trying to scare the horse. It happens all the time. I’m balanced precariously on my ride – I’m wearing about 40 pounds of costume and have another 30 pounds of throws on the horse. If someone is willing to risk injuring me (that fall is nasty) for a simple trinket, they don’t deserve one. Besides, do you know what kind of damage a spooked horse can do in a crowd?? The people who do this are why I think we should be allowed to wear spurs and carry sabers as part of our regalia. And use them.
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin. I wouldn’t give him the time of day. One of my cheap aluminum doubloons is worth more than the sum total of his mayoral leadership.
My final, uber-I-won’t-give-you-a-doubloon-pet-peeve: Doubloon Collectors. Because horse riders in our Krewe throw a specific doubloon, and there are only 10-20 of us in any given parade, those doubloons tend to be pretty rare. And doubloon collectors covet them since they want a ‘full set’ (silver, gold, green and ours – purple), often to sell. Look, I collected doubloons as a kid. I think it’s cool to do that as a kid. (I even found some of my collection of 60’s and 70’s doubloons in my parent’s attic after Katrina.) But when you’re a portly middle-age guy alone at a parade, with specially made dump pouches for your belt, well… you’re not cool anymore. And I’m not going to give you squat, especially when you stick your hand out and say, “I need 15 purple”. Dude, you don’t need “15 purple” - you need a freakin’ life.
So who gets my attention? The list is simple:
Kids. I remember as a boy the thrill of catching something that was thrown to me, or being personally handed a throw. I try to repay the favor.
Girls with pretty smiles. Well, duh. And, miniskirts help. A lot.
Families with kids. Again - well, duh.
People wearing a costume. If you go to the trouble to costume for parades before Mardi Gras Day, you deserve it. And not some leftover Halloween junk, either.
Military folks in uniform. You REALLY deserve it.
UPDATE: In the comments The Grey Man posts a link to lard-butt the architect - your humble blogger - perched astride his trusty steed, 'Tiger', last Friday Night. Is it me, or does the way my velvet mu-mu drape over the saddle make me look fat?
And here is an image of The Grey Man, looking ever so-not-Grey as he hands out baubles to the masses from his mount.