Back in the real world (i.e. New Jersey.) there's a certain spacing of holidays that leaves one with a sense of celebration without causing one's head to spin clean off one's shoulders. Here in the Big Easy it's different. Just when I think I've got a handle on things, I discover that I am smack in the epicenter of another freakin' holiday. I usually find this out by the inordinate amount of coworkers begging for days off, or showing up in the mornings smelling like they just rolled out of a gin distillery. There's one girl who looks like she's about to give birth to a keg. Seriously, a beer belly on a chick? Not. Hot.
But I digress...
Did you know that Christmas isn't over on December 26th? No, my friends. Christmas lasts until King's Day (January 5th), which is supposedly the day the three kings arrived at the baby Jesus' manger. There's a special cake for the occasion and everything.
They taste better than they look.
If you happen to get the piece with the little plastic baby baked inside, and don't die of asphyxiation because you weren't expecting to get a little plastic toy in your mouth, it's your responsibility to buy the next cake. Another thing I've learned in New Orleans is there's always a reason to eat cake.
Just ask the half of my closet that holds all the clothes I used to fit into until I moved to the Big Easy-To-Find-Cake-And-Cookies.
Alright, fine. I celebrated Christmas until January 5th. I ate the cake(s), and survived the babies with all my teeth intact. It's over now, right?
Now it's Carnival Season. Carnival Season?!?!
Another thing on the long list of stuff I didn't know about New Orleans is that Mardi Gras isn't just that one Tuesday. No, it's a month of parades, parties, masquerade balls and, of course, a new rotation of King Cakes and tiny plastic choking hazards. I can't take it anymore. My waist can't take it anymore. And my jeans? Every time I put them on these days I can just about hear the stitches and buttons screaming for mercy.
This city is making me fat. With a capitol FAT.
But fine... Fine. It's tradition, and who am I to argue with hundreds of years of tradition? Frankly, I can't argue, because I've only recently gotten a grasp on the accent down here. Yeah, now people only have to repeat something to me twice as opposed to the dozen or so times it took when I first got here in May. So instead I began to artfully dodge the cakes, cut back on my eating and started to get an in-general grasp on my eating habits.
Then the New Orleans Saints win their first NFC Championship in the history of the team and the city has a whole new holiday to look forward to: Superbowl Sunday.
Now bigger than Christmas, bigger than Mardi Gras, bigger than the second coming itself, the city has another reason to celebrate. Even I, the first to declare "I don't care about football," can't ignore the game this year. I'm surprised to find a giddy little knot in my belly waiting for tomorrow's big game. We're going to be in the French Quarter all tomorrow night, and I have to say: I think it'll be cooler than actually being in Miami. Man's family got a suite somewhere near Bourbon Street so we can watch the game and head out to join the celebrations.
As I type this, his mother is in the kitchen fixing a royal feast of chicken wings and 7-layer bean and guacamole dip to bring with us. And sitting on the kitchen table? Two of the biggest King Cakes I've ever seen in my life. So much for that diet I thought I was on.
As they say in Cajun Country:
Laissez les bons temps rouler
(That's cajun-french for "Let the good times roll!" which I thought until five minutes ago sounded a lot like "La Benneton Roulette!")