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Summer Vacation 2000
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New Orleans for Mardi Gras 1999... need I say more? One of my classmates at USM invited the whole class to come down to her home in Louisiana for Mardi Gras. Between her other friends and various significant others, there were about 14 people in the house for the weekend. I had such a blast. I didn't suck on the head of a crawdad, but I did sample beignets at the Cafe du Monde on Decatur down in the French Quarter. Also, I highly recommend the Hard Rock Cafe there. I'm used to pretty standard fare, but at this particular establishment, the food was really excellent. I tasted some of what everyone ordered, and it was all really good.

Dennison, our magnanimous hostess, lives two blocks from a main parade route. For those of you who have never been to Mardi Gras, it's quite the event. People line the streets to watch the floats go by. People on the floats wear costumes and masks. They throw beads and other trinkets from the floats. Mardi Gras is all about beads! It's amazing. After a few days there, I was looking at everyone with bead envy. "Ooooh... I want those beads. Where did you get them?"

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There are many ways to acquire beads. You can buy them in stores, but of course that's no fun. You can hang out for a parade and catch beads as they are thrown at you. A ladder helps! Finally, there is a tradition on Bourbon street of flashing for beads. Yes... flashing for beads. The street is packed with people. It's difficult to move. The crowd starts chanting "Show your tits! Show your tits!" The woman on the balcony looks left, then right, then lifts up her shirt to bare her breasts. Suddenly the balcony lights up as if a lightning bolt struck from out of nowhere. It's all the flashbulbs going off! From down below, the person who had offered beads for the deed throws up a set of red and gold beads to the woman.

And don't worry. You don't have to be female to acquire beads that way. If you go east on Bourbon, the crowd thins as you enter the gay section. There men dangle beads from the balconies, chanting to the passersby below, "Show your dick! Show your dick!" All of the closet exhibitionists seem to come out of the woodwork. Even men who were seemingly passing through the gay section to get to the main section would sometimes stop, flash, and walk away a few strands heavier. And yes, I too got my trophy beads! Eric was completely shocked. He's known me for years. I've gotten over a lot of my modesty issues in the past few years.

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