Mardi Gras in Athens – Fat Tuesday sneaked up on me in Athens. It’s easy to sneak up on me these days because I’m not alert, quick and graceful as I once was. This is pretty much a lie because I have never been any of those things as I recall and certainly Katie Mae has never complimented me on having any of these attributes. To be truthful she says I am as alert and quick as a somnambulant snail and as graceful as a tortoise trying to waltz.
The importance of the moment hit me when I saw an ad in the Athens Banner-Herald that told me there is a “New Orleans ‘N Athens” right downtown. And sure enough because of our love of acronyms, it is called “NONA.”
I threw on my old “Fat Tuesday” togs and headed downtown. Katie Mae refused to go with me and I had a hard time driving because my “Cat Woman” mask kept slipping over my nose. When I parked I saw a blind pan handler with a seeing-eye dog. Since I couldn’t see through the mask, I gave him twenty bucks to use the dog a little while. I headed inside NONA to catch the full force of all the Athens Mardi Gras action.
It was a disaster. The place was full of college kids. I asked the girl who met me at the door if she were a waitress. She informed me she was a barista. I don’t speak Spanish. I thought she was telling me she was a bastard. I thought it strange that she should want to share with me that her parents were unmarried when she was conceived but you never know how crazy people get during Mardi Gras. Maybe all those beads were cutting off circulation to that miniscule brain of hers.
I think they were expecting a featured entertainer because she took a look at my gray hair and she asked me if I were “Fat Tuesday.” I said, “Listen kid, I am not only fat on Tuesday but I am also fat the following Wednesday and right on up through the next Monday.”
I asked for a drink and she carded me. They do that all the time in Athens. I’m obviously real old so I always think they are carding me to steal my identify and then it hits me that nobody in the world would want to be me. She took one look at my card and said, “You not only are not Fat Tuesday but you are too damned old to be in here!”
I attempted to angrily storm out of the joint but my big feet got caught up in a bar stool leg and the dog’s leash lassoed me around the ankles. As I pitched face forward over a table full of fancy cocktails the dog bit me on the butt.
Having seen how effectively a seeing-eye dog can lacerate your buttocks, none of the staff would come to my rescue. I could tell they didn’t want me in there but they were afraid to touch me. I crawled out of there on my own. I was crawling and yelling bloody murder the whole way. The patrons gave me a wide berth. The dog had become docile but I couldn’t help notice he was grinning at me.
When I got the dog back to his master, I told him the dog hadn’t helped much and he said, “Yeah, I know. I just keep him around because I feel sorry for him. Hell, he can’t see either. He has bitten me ten or twelve times in the last couple of years. You’d think the dumb barista would know me by now.” He might have said the dog was a dumb bastard but I was pretty confused at the time and I have a hard time hearing when my fanny hurts.
The only thing I think I learned by going to Mardi Gras in Athens is don’t try to be a young stud in a wild bar full of masked college kids. It is a futile pursuit and will eventually bite you in the ass.