Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Reflections on Mardi Gras

As I stood in my reproduction of a New Orleans patio, dressed in a sequined, beaded mask, green/gold/purple vest, multiple strands of beads hanging around my neck AND drinking my 3rd or 4th absinthe suissesse, someone asked me why I go all out for Mardi Gras.

"It is my Christmas Eve, Easter, 4th of July and birthday all rolled in to one", I replied. "I hate Halloween, all the childishness, death, spooks, morbidity... , Mardi Gras is LIFE, celebrate, colorful, dancing, gumbo, hollandaise, champagne and absinthe, not pumpkins, candy and blood-like punch". It is so much better, and at least in Kansas City a rarer event.

I got "into" Mardi Gras in St Louis, which boasts one of the largest Mardi Gras celebrations in the country. It is usually mentioned along with Rio, Sydney and New Orleans (the King of Mardi Gras of course) as one to attend. People partied, offices closed for the Grand Parade, 75,000 people watched dogs parade in costumes and just as they are in a huge "Krewe of Barkus" parade. My neighborhood association had a Krewe with a ball and parade. Tits were flashed, beads thrown, rules suspended for a bit and life and fun were King and Queen. And who could not love a holiday with the theme laissez les bons temps rouler! (roughly, "let the good times roll")?

So upon my return to Kansas City, I began to import the traditions of Mardi Gras. A few stalwarts celebrated, but most of the city was ignorant of the festivities, reserving them for St Patrick's Day. When my old church decided to have a Mardi Gras themed party, I was thrilled. Until I discovered they had not a clue what to do. "Who is bringing the King Cake"? I asked to blank stares. "Anyone making gumbo, do have beads to throw??". Again silence. I improvised and made a king cake of sorts, made a vat of gumbo and got them their beads. The next couple years were bigger and better, I even became known as "Miss Glitter" for my beads I would wear. Announcing the event, I would stand and throw the beads at the congregation. One Sunday the Bishop of the Methodist church was attending. "You're not going to throw them while the Bishop is here...are you??" "Yes I am and I will likely throw one at him!" And I did.

After leaving the church over too much drama, I started a party of my own at the Palace. It grew. Last night I had 20 people in a re-creation of the patio at Brennan's restaurant. We drank, we ate, gumbo was there and cheese soufflé as well. Beads, masks, fun, laughter, life, friends, Rex Coelestis (me of course) came in a fabulous mask and beads delivering the colorful King Cake (I even got the baby, damn it, so I have to bring it next year too) to great acclaim.

Now Ash Wednesday, as the law prescribes, all is put away. Just the clean up, the leftovers ( I do not know how to make small amounts) to give out and the beads and finery to be put away. Even though it is getting lighter out side and the cold is giving way, Lent is upon us.

I am not as devout a follower of Lent as I am of Mardi Gras (which is of course the last time you can officially revel until Easter), but as I focus on my spirituality, I see this time as a chance to reflect on how I express and fulfill my spiritual needs. I see a great change coming; one that may displease some friends. But seeds are sometimes planted and are destined to grow and test the climate. Shall a new chapter begin? Keep watching.

1 comment:

zaine_ridling said...

Sounds like a blast, but ohmygod, you're going Catholic? Buddhist? Atheist? Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster? Do share!