The muffled sounds of upbeat jazz could be heard through the bar’s blue wooden door, in-tune with the jingle being played on the piano in the corner. Outside, thousands were parading around in skimpy outfits and feathered masks, enjoying the last of the Mardi Gras celebrations. The streets were littered with barely-legal women trading their self-respect for a few measly dollar-store beads. Partiers and drunkards saturated the cobblestone sidewalks while elaborate floats inched their way down the route in a seemingly endless succession.
Crews had spent the year preparing for this night, lovingly gluing a craft store’s worth of glitter and feathers on their carnival-esque floats. Moderation was the antithesis of Mardi Gras.
The bar was a lone island refuge in an ocean of overwhelming colors and sounds that had become of the French Quarter. Discreetly nested in a narrow alleyway just outside of Bourbon Street, the dive was surprisingly empty that night. There was only the bartender polishing a glass behind the counter, a stranger at the piano, and me, the man who’d picked the worst time of the year to do some sight-seeing in New Orleans. Call it a rite of passage, if you want, but I’d always wanted to be part of the celebration at least once in my life. Unfortunately, I grew weary of the ceaseless party almost as soon as it began.