Family Ties

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 3, 2001


Mardi Gras Turns Foul

A friend told me yesterday about his stress-free Mardi Gras. I remember those. These people stayed on the Northshore and went to the Lions parade in Covington. Some other friends just went to picnic in Bogue Falaya Park. That had to be a little harrowing, since I’m told it rained. It still sounded nice. But the thrills of Mardi Gras in New Orleans have lured us to the Southshore permanently. Nevertheless, we retain that north-of-the-lake attitude. My daughter, standing ankle deep in trash, handed me a napkin to put in my pocket since it didn’t even occur to her to litter. In other ways, we’re completely ready for the decadence offered by our more southern neighbors. We got out of the car and my daughter bent down to tie her shoes. When I arrived on her side of the car I noticed someone’s regurgitated lunch all around where she was standing. I shrieked, “Honey, watch what you’re doing. Someone threw up there! And you’re in it!” She dismissed me calmly, “Mom, relax. I’m not IN the puke, I’m tying my shoes OVER it.” Sure enough, she had carefully straddled the gross grass. We moved on to the apartment my brother had rented for the week, with a balcony overlooking St. Charles. This is a dream come true for him. I think he was too old to be dragged through the streets of the city in the madwagon (our family’s station wagon) as we tried to screech our way up to a parade, but his memories of Mardi Gras are the same as mine, anything but stress-free. I don’t recall ever waiting for a parade. My brother’s fantasy was to wait all day at Mardi Gras. To hang out. To close down St. Charles. To barbecue on the neutral ground. While I can’t confess any unsatisfied need to do that, I have enjoyed a more leisurely parade pace for a few years now. My kids brought their scooter to all but one parade, and we enjoyed waiting. We did escape my mother’s frenetic dash for parking space, but this method is not without it’s own pitfalls. Leisurely waiting for a parade can be expensive. Junk carts full of irresistible merchandise pass every few minutes. My son sounded like a commodities trader as he reported the dropping price of a laser pointer. Such a savvy shopper! Poor kid, he didn’t even get one offered at the lowest price. I have never even purchased a glowing plastic necklace, although these could come in handy in finding kids. Unless every other child in the surrounding pack had conned their parents into buying one. But none of these things can compare to the hot new, and fortunately, little known, item on this year’s carts. Fart Spray. Yes, indeed. My mother could have used this to clear a space for us when we arrived late to a parade. This stuff could even move people at Endymion. The packaging is appropriate. On the can is a charming graphic design of a naked, oversized, sagging derriere. The first exposure I had to this was the week before Mardi Gras, at a party in a very nice, clean house. I was walking past the bathroom as someone was coming out, and was nearly felled by the odor. No one else seemed fazed by this debilitating smell. Quickly I evacuated the area and politely kept my mouth shut, but soon the entire house reeked of foul air. Parents explained this exciting new product with a mixture of amusement and disgust. It is certainly better than candy to young boys. Every few minutes, some young man would run into a room full of guests, spray, make a quick exit, and giggle at the people groaning in their wake. The smell, like cow manure, is particularly deadly in a small space, but it is potent enough to be revolting to large crowds in fresh air. This year, not many people knew about Flatulence In A Can. I’m predicting it will be really big next year, distinctly diminishing the fun for innocent people waiting for a parade. Who knows, Fart Spray may make people leave their scooters at home and start screeching up to parades like my mother did! MARY ANN FITZMORRIS writes this column every Saturday for L’Observateur.