Thursday, March 17, 2011
Some Irish Love for the Rat
Nothing really captures New Orleans sense of drama, zaniness, history & living in the moment, quite like a parade. Recent ills aside, this is where it all goes down, kids. No matter what your age, sex, affiliation or profound social ills, Parades are Happy Time here in the Crescent. Today, I found myself looking out the window in to the afternoon sunshine, and, almost like a New Zombie from some B horror movie, set my tools down on my way to the door, grabbed my keys and Mister Bicycle, and headed out. Lower Decatur, where friends have shops, a visit to my favorite cheap sunglasses stand (they have them with skulls on the lenses, now!) at the French Market, a ride up Frenchman and back through the 'hood, it was a lovely repast from the crowds of Mardi Gras, but still, the buzz was in the air about the Annual Downtown Irish Club Parade. So, as the hour approached, feeling a little dreamy from my afternoon ride, I just grabbed my keys and got back on Mister Bicycle. I ambled down St Roch towards Royal Street, knowing the Mimi's curb front would be jammed, and stopped outside Schiros. The parade was a bit further away than I thought, so I locked up Mister Bicycle and began to proceed on foot. I should point out that Mister Bicycle is actually an Electra 26", a Rat Rod street cruiser model with ape hangers, a clown horn and rather worse for wear. Although it wore a single strand of green beads to this event, they were quickly snatched off & given away to the first of my friends, Natasha, that I ran into. Realizing I'd left without a wallet or a dime, I decided to forgo any bead collecting, as my own monetary contribution to this event would be nil. The Parade, itself, was reward enough on this lovely evening. Within minutes, another friend, Miss Mardi Claw, called out to me from the crowded street; "Hey! Ya wanna come up & watch from the balcony?" Well, of course I do. Who wouldn't? So I found myself thumping up the steps to the private balcony, a viewing place par excellence, and striking up a conversation with some out-of-towners staying there. Truly lovely people. A lovely spot as well,and another 'free ride'. It soon became apparent that many of these guests were unable or unpracticed at the yell, "Trow me sumpin mistah" and even worse at the catch. A pretty Asian woman, taking pictures of the floats, ducked when the beads flew at her, hanging on the wires above her. I snagged them down and handed them to her, showing her the extended hand required. "It's because they like you," I assured her. As the parade went on, beautifully so, I enjoyed the looks on these new faces, becoming more childlike, grinning and laughing as beads fell short or went over their heads. They became more friendly in their yells to the riders. Still, their catching skills were sad. I took it upon myself, then, to tap into the Abundance of the Universe, catching as many strands as possible, and distributing them on the heads of those visitors around me, and locals, alike. Mardi Claw handed me a beer, insisting on buying me a drink, and I went back to Bead Fishing For Others, enjoying the sport of it, as well as the pleasure of seeing their excitement, without the heavy feeling of collecting, receiving or accumulating for myself. I loved it. As the street cleaners finally rolled by (man that stuff they spray smells GOOD), I made my way back down stairs, handing off whatever beads were still in my possession, solid in the knowledge that giving is the better end of Universal Abundance, and enjoying the pleasure of those who thought the Bead Game had passed them by. Finally free of these material accouterments, I stepped out to the bike rack, to unlock Mister Bicycle and head home. I couldn't find my bike. Just as a wave of despair seemed likely to wash over me, I realized what had happened. There were several bicycles locked to the rack, clear of debris and parade droppings. Not a thing on a single one of them. Next to them was an almost bushy pile of beads of all type & variety, expensive & cheap, in a multitude of colors & shapes, wound around a plastic pitchfork, and several paper roses, and god knows what else... This then, was Mister Bicycle. As I made every effort to pass on the gelt of the evening's events, stringing parade schwag over the heads of nearby tourists & friends alike, finally handing off the last strings to some kids by the door, the Abundant Universe was having it's way with me. Well, with the Rat, Mister Bicycle, anyway. But still, the message is quite clear. As you give, so shall you receive. And then some. So, Mister Bicycle is downstairs in the foyer, surely gloating over the New Found Love that the Downtown Irish Club Parade and it's followers have laid upon him. He growled a little when I went to remove the beads, so I left them hanging on him. He'll get tired of them, I guess, eventually. Or maybe, just maybe, The Rat will learn, as we all may someday, that the act of giving, of sharing love & joy, of putting someone else's happiness, even for a few minutes, above your own, is a great joy in itself. And that the Abundant Universe around us refuses to let such deeds go unrewarded. Thanks, Mister Universe, from me & the Rat, or Mister Bicycle, as he likes to be called. He said to tell you he loves you, too. And next time, please leave beer. I think he wants them for me, so it's okay. He didn't mean to growl, really. He's a little misunderstood sometimes, just like the rest of us.