Catch Some Beads

Mardi Gras Parade, Bishop Arts, Oak Cliff, Dallas, Texas

Fight for the beads.

Fight for the beads.

I have this thing about Mardi Gras beads. I love to catch parade throws – yelling “Beads! Beads!” or “Big Beads!” – making eye contact with the Krewe member on the float – the cheap bilious plastic string floating through the air – the jump – the catch – and finally, adding the string to the growing collection around my neck. It’s stupid, but I love it.

Two years ago, in New Orleans, we went out to a night of smaller parades on Thursday or something… sort of a warm-up for the big Super Krewes that were coming up on the weekend. I like these smaller Krewes – they have an irreverent sense of humor that the big, expensive parades can’t match.

At any rate, after a day and night of catching, my neck was festooned with a thick collar of plastic beads – especially the smaller ones thrown by the less-well-financed Krewes of that afternoon and evening. We were hungry so at two in the morning or so we ducked into an Italian Restaurant out on St. Charles past Tulane.

As we sat there I became a little self-conscious about the beads and decided to take them off. That’s when I realized that they were terribly tangled around my neck and that I was trapped, slowly choking in a noose of bright plastic spheres strung on string. I sat there trying to work on the beads while fighting back panic.

“Just cut them off, here I have scissors in my purse,” said Candy.

“No, I can’t,” I said.

“Why not?”

“They’re Mardi Gras Beads! I can’t cut them.”

“They’re just cheap plastic. Cut ’em off.”

But I couldn’t. I have no idea why, but the fact they were thrown through the air and caught made them special, somehow. It took me an hour of careful, patient untangling to get them off.

Now, I’ve accumulated a big plastic tote full over the last few years. It sits in the bottom of a closet and I should throw them away… but I can’t do it. What I need to do is find a parade and walk – throw them myself – return them from whence they came. Back into the wild – catch and release.

That I could do.

Well, for the last two years we are way too broke to go to New Orleans for Carnival. The best we could do, last year and this, is go to Oak Cliff for the Bishop Arts Mardi Gras parade.

It isn’t New Orleans… but it will do . It has to.