“What’s Mardi Gras?”

Or how I ended up praying to God.

I swear, some mornings it’s a wonder I make it here.

Here, to my desk, away from the evils out there in the real world.

Sometimes you do a gig, and sometimes the gig does you. This weekend we did a private party for a company. We were supposed to be the “interesting cityfolk” at a Mardi Gras party. “What’s a Mardi Gras party like?” I was asking a week ago. Now I know.

These cubicle living people seem so harmless at first. They were so shy when I put beads around their necks and told them that later on they’d have to be my party slaves to take home the Nintendo 64– then they got to drinking. There was so much food! We were told that we could have all the drinks we wanted with the drink tickets they were handing out. Unfortunately you only got so many at a time, and you had to find someone with the tickets to get more drinks (I swear I couldn’t find any water or Coke the whole night). It was six drink tickets for most of the drinks… but champagne was only three. So I started drinking champagne. We led around the parade. We danced. We threw beads. At one point some of my beads got stuck in my boa. Six men and women ripped my beads off my body. I felt like Tom Jones.

Our job was to make these people work for the beads… at one point I was holding a New Kids on the Block competition where whichever man danced the most like Joe would get the beads. These men all dropped their pants instead. I gave them all beads, since I didn’t want a repeat of earlier, except with naked men.

The evening gets a little fuzzier after that. More dancing, more drinking. Someone stole all of our drink tickets. People were buying me drinks if I would sing. I sang “Miss Otis Regrets” for some sort of red champagne. At one point I remember thinking, “Where am I? Am I on the dance floor? Am I swing dancing? I don’t know how to swing dance! Who is this man swinging me around? Why is he so tall? Where’s my wig?”

I remember making someone eat an oyster off my shoe. I remember everything, I think, I just don’t remember the order of it all. That demon alcohol. One minute I was fine, and the next I was flopping around my apartment, where there was another party going on.

Yesterday morning, Valentine’s Day, I woke up to Eric laughing at me. “I was really proud of you last night,” he said. “You were really funny.”

“Oh yeah?” I mumbled. My head was about to implode and I was choosing my final words carefully.

“Yeah, you kept talking about your clit.”


And I’ve had hangovers before. Usually by the afternoon you start feeling like a human again. I just kept feeling worse. And worse. And worse. I slept as much as I could. I could hardly eat. Everything made me nauseous. Every light bulb was like the sun. Good thing Eric had to work all night, as I made a lousy Valentine. He got home late and we ate cheeseburgers and talked about how much we loved each other. We exchanged gifts, and gently cuddled each other until I passed out into another alcohol induced haze.

It is at this point, as I’m thinking over the past two days, that I realize that at some point someone might have slipped something into my drink. I really didn’t drink all that much, and all I know is at one point I stopped having control over what I was saying or doing. I fell against a wall trying to walk. That never happens. I have cuts and bruises on my arms and legs that I don’t know how they happened. No one knows how they happened. Was I alone? And it was worse than a hangover that I had… it was like I was going through some sort of flu-detox. Still, this morning, I’m a bit shaky. I’m hungry, but I’m afraid if I eat I’ll feel sick all over again.

There were these posters up at the bar a few months ago: “Watch your drink! Rapists have an easier way of taking you home these days.” And I remember thinking, “How could that happen?” But now I remember that many times other people went to get me drinks between my songs. Strangers. I guess they could have thrown anything into that Big Easy drink I was drinking. Come to think of it, any drink called the Big Easy invites itself to have a little Spanish Fly, I guess.

You know, I’m just trying to find some sort of excuse for my behavior Saturday night, because I really had never been that way before. Yesterday at rehearsal people kept saying, “You were so funny last night.” But I don’t feel like I was funny. My memory has blurred the event into some terrible after school special with Meredith Baxter Birney called “Mommy Makes Me Sad When She’s on the Sauce.”

But I just chatted with Chuy about my new found excuse for my behavior.

Well, how much did you drink?

I don’t know. Maybe three glasses of champagne, two of those that had the Chambray–


And one glass of wine that Cody ended up drinking anyway.

Someone definitely slipped you something. You didn’t drink enough to be as drunk as you were that night.

And as sick as I was yesterday.

Yeah, someone gave you something.

Accountants. You can’t trust ’em.

I guess there’s something about being told to party that makes people behave in an extreme fashion. I was partying with perfect strangers. There really was a very big difference between when all of these very clean and “good” kids walked in, and when we had them leaving four hours later, covered in make-up, glitter and wigs. We had strangers kissing, men pinching their bosses butts, men crawling across a dance floor to me– these people would do anything you said to get some beads. Then when we ran out of beads they wanted to do stuff just because we came up with funny things for them to do. It was not what I expected. Often times when doing a corporate function you find that everyone stares at you like a freak. This time, however, we were the ones staring.

Corporate parties. Just when it is it okay to be totally wild? At the beginning of the night no one would let Chris (who was in drag) go near them. By the end of the night they were taking pictures with their heads on the men in drag’s bosoms. Was it because we were doing our jobs correctly? Was it just the nature of the party? Or was it the holiday? Mardi Gras gives people the right to behave however they want. Women flash their breasts, men ask to be dominated– an excuse to behave in a way they normally aren’t allowed. Everyone is that crazy drunk at the party. It’s the masks, too. You are supposed to have this level of anonymity, and you are acting like someone else in this mask– you don’t show your face. It was like I was at two different parties. At first we were the only ones dancing, running around this parade dancing up a storm. By the time we were on parade number three (yeah, we had to march in three parades. My thighs were so happy I had worked out that morning)– people were joining in the parade, taking the drumsticks from the high school band and dancing to the beat of their own drums.

People were explaining it this way: “We’re a very competitive bunch. Everyone wants to be the craziest.”

It had nothing to do with the cash and prizes that we gave away at the end of the night. It was pure bragging rights. Who showed their genitals the most? If I had known that I would have made someone give me their webcam for some damn beads. If I had only planned it out better.

If only someone hadn’t slipped me a mickey.

Watch your drinks, guys. Really. Seriously. Man, I feel terrible.

Like I was saying, I was really unfamiliar with the whole Mardi Gras concept. But I learned one thing from you Catholics. I understand the need for this type of partying. I don’t plan on giving anything up for Lent, but I do know that I don’t feel like drinking again for about sixty days or so. And by the end of the evening, and several times yesterday afternoon I was praying to God for forgiveness for whatever it was that I did to deserve being so ill.

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