Carnival officially begins on January 6 (aka Epiphany, aka the 12th Night of Xmas), but most of us in New Orleans don’t really get into the Carnival spirit until much later. For me, the trigger is usually the Krewe du Vieux parade, which happens about two-and-a-half weeks before Fat Tuesday (aka Mardi Gras).
This year, however, I’m late — late like Rizzo in Grease, to use a theatre queen simile. I’m just not in the mood yet. Maybe the balls and parades this weekend will tip the scale.
My friend Elizabeth, however, is full of the Carnival spirit(s), and she’s penned something to commemorate the season: “The Benefits Of Getting Drunk: A Manifesto”. Whether or not you live in New Orleans, whether or not you celebrate Carnival and Lent, whether or not you sip the Devil’s Urine (as my Sunday school teacher used to call it), it’s well worth your time. Here’s an excerpt:
Sometimes life is terrible. You get divorced. You get laid off. Your loved one dies. Your heart breaks. Your city floods. When it does, most of us soldier on, waking up to a bleak future, plodding through the day, trying not to cry in public, keeping it together so we don’t lose our jobs/annoy our co-workers/scare our children. Merely being alive exposes us to failure, fear, regret, and loss. Most of us endure these moments, these weeks and sometimes these years, managing to not kill ourselves, until little by little we make life better or, by the grace of time, it just gets better. But during these terrible times, it is perfectly appropriate to want to get the hell out. To get away from the bad that seems like it will never end. And getting drunk can do that for you. Granted, sometimes the drinking can make problems seem worse than they are, but when they actually cannot get worse, when they are really, really bad, go ahead. Get drunk. Forget where you live, whom you live with, your name (old or new) your job (old or new), someone’s absence, someone’s presence, your own presence. Line them up and knock them back. Don’t flip through the old letters, the old photos. Don’t watch the DVD for the 100th time or listen to your song. Don’t try and do the ugly math that is your bank account. They will all be there tomorrow to remind you to remember. Instead, stare blankly ahead of you, don’t look back, and for now, forget.
See y’all on the neutral ground.