Have I ever mentioned that I love living in New Orleans?
I come from a Columbus Ohio suburb where the strangest things that walk the streets are democrats. So it's no surprise that I moved to an area of New Orleans where all you have to do is sit on your front porch and wait for the entertainment to present itself. So I give you, the top 5 strangest things I've seen from my front porch.
1. Tall Bikes:
Tall bikes are like two or three bike frames fused on top of each other to resemble something you might see in a circus. And I really don't understand the purpose of these things... as they can't be that functional/easy to ride. I see people riding these bikes all the time through the neighborhood. I just don't get it. These bikes are like the proverbial tree in the forest. If you don't see the hipster get off/on one of these bikes... did it actually happen? I'm almost convinced that they magically appear on top of these things... because I've never actually seen someone get on or off. I only see them barrelling through the narrow streets. I've never seen one come to a full stop either. How do they stop at stop signs? Traffic lights? How do they brake? Or is it too "mainstream" to have brakes? Kind of like those fixed gear bikes? Having more than one gear makes you uncool. You might be safer! But definitely not cooler.
2. Nonchalant Silver People:
Sure, we've all seen the silver people working in the French Quarter. You see them trying to stand perfectly still in the sweltering heat... they might start rockin' out like a robot every once in awhile. But what you don't usually see is the casual walk home. Yes, just like you and me, silver people have to make their way to and from work... and it's a very strange thing to see a silver person just mosey on down your street. It's kind of like seeing Batman walking down the street on his way home from fighting crime. It takes a little bit of the magic out of it. No kids, like the tooth fairy, the silver dude is not real... he's just a regular ole dude with a house and bills to pay. He doesn't come from a land of silver robots. Actually, the strangest silver people I saw were a couple dressed in period garb walking down the street late at night... at first I thought they were ghosts because, hey this is New Orleans and the silver paint from far away made them look pretty ethereal. But it turns out they were just your run-of-the-mill silver people. At least... I hope so. That's what I tell myself anyways.
3. Mardi Gras costumes:
(Mardi Gras black swans)
Nothing from Ohio could have prepared me for Mardi Gras. On Fat Tuesday back home, it's just any other week day. The local bars might put up a few purple/green/gold streamers or Mardi Gras promotional posters for Bud Light... but that's about it. The only thing that could come close to the atmosphere surrounding Mardi Gras was the Halloween party at the college I went to. I went to school in the beautiful foothills of the appalachians at Ohio University... which was voted the number one party school this year. I'm so proud. Anyways, up until two years ago I had thought that Halloween at OU was the craziest event to go past my house... and at the time I thought it was double cool because my roommates and I were probably the only ones in at least a hundred miles to live in a purple house. Well... purple houses down here are not so strange.
The only times that people in Columbus, Ohio go hog-wild with costumes are Halloween, and to a certain extent, Ohio State football games (I can't wait for all those "sweater vest" jokes this year). And you might see some pretty interesting costumes... but nothing like Mardi Gras costumes. By my first Carnival season I had been in Louisiana for several months, but it still didn't prepare me for the culture shock of being a part of one big month-long party. The only way I could describe it at the time was a "whimsical Halloween". I really had no idea that you were even supposed to dress up. I felt totally stupid as I walked into the Quarter wearing my normal everyday clothes and everyone else was dressed up as fairies, 18th century milk maids, and woodland creatures.
But I have to say, waking up on Mardi Gras morning this past year and sitting outside to watch all the people walk from our neighborhood on down to the French Quarter was so awesome. I could have probably just sat there all day to observe the craziness and would have been perfectly happy. I saw every manner of costume. I saw "black swans", childhood cartoon characters, people who looked like they stepped out of The Lord of the Rings, devils, angels and the one that sticks out most in my memory (probably because it was kinda gross) is a dude in an adult diaper and a bonnet. And this time I had the knowledge to dress up along with everyone else. I didn't feel like such a fish out of water
(my Mardi Gras face painting)
I think New Orleans really has the whole "winter blues" thing figured out. Up north where people are miserable in the ice and snow... with the Christmas holidays over and nothing to look forward to except spring... February can be a pretty depressing month. But down here, we have a month-long party to shake off the blues. I love it. No one up north will tell you that it's their favorite time of year... but down here people say it all the time. It's so fascinating to me.
4. All the other "event" costumes:
(red dress run)
If you're ever wondering what's going on any particular weekend, all you have to do is go outside and witness the costumes. Do you see a bunch of people dressed in white with red sashes and scarves? It's the weekend of the Running of the Bulls. Do you see people in red dresses (dudes too) with beers in their hands? It's the Red Dress Run. Do you see a bunch of people dressed head to toe in white linen? It's White Linen Night. You get my point. I love this about New Orleans. I love that we have a whole city of people that wants to be apart of the "New Orleans experience", or even just plain "life experience", to dress up... eat, drink and be merry. More so than any other city I've been in, New Orleans treats life like it should be celebrated. And celebrated often.
5. This guy:
This was taken on your run-of-the-mill Saturday evening. It wasn't during Mardi Gras season, Halloween or even St. Patrick's Day. It was the most ordinary Saturday you could think of. And this dude decided to ride around our neighborhood playing his bagpipes... on a unicycle... wearing a sequined jacket. Awesome.
I so love it here.