It’s truly an amazing time of the year in our area — a time when even people like me take a break from our otherwise rigid and humdrum lives and take a walk on the wild side by joining in the massive littering so many Mobilians enjoy even when it’s not Mardi Gras.
I can’t tell you how satisfying it is to finally feel free to toss candy wrappers, beer cans and even the occasional adult diaper onto city streets after being a litter teetotaler during the rest of the year. They say true Mobilians are born under an azalea bush during Mardi Gras, but I’m not so sure even those of us who were late to the game shouldn’t be awarded “real” citizenship after creating our body weights in carnival-related street trash.
While Mardi Gras’ traditions may have become rote for some, to me there always seem to be enough nuances to make every year uniquely exciting. This year one of those nuances is the addition of HUGE celebrities. Yes, this past weekend Mobile played host to Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the man who finally made taking pictures of your meals or cats and showing them to your friends part of daily life.
Zuck — as I imagine I’d call him if we were friends — hung out in and around Mobile over the weekend, enjoying drinks downtown, visiting Bayou la Batre to Gump it up with some shrimpers, and even catching the Neptune’s Daughters parade Sunday night.
Maybe catching isn’t the right word. Ladies, put a little more oomph into those throws next year! Some of these parading societies might want to talk with a few major league baseball pitchers about juicing up those arms. But I digress.
Anyway, from all accounts the billionaire businessman and his wife had a lovely time here. And you can’t deny feeling an added level of excitement knowing there’s some small chance you might actually meet Zuck while taking a pee in the men’s room at the Garage, and next thing you know he’s paying waaaay too much to buy your small, local newspaper. That’s an exciting Mardi Gras thought for sure.
As if Zuckerberg hadn’t brought enough star power to our “family Mardi Gras,” Dolph Lundgren and Jean-Claude Van Damme have been filming a new movie in the area. That’s right, Drago from “Rocky IV” and Gibson Rickenbacker from “Cyborg” are right here in town. Just imagine — you could be standing at the parade trying to catch some ramen noodles and Drago would snatch them out of the air, look at you and say, “You will lose.” Or Van Damme could spinning-heel-kick you in the head over a pair of “good beads.” It’s entirely possible!
I’m hoping these celebs getting to experience the Mobile Mardi Gras will mean they’ll head back to Tinseltown or Silicon Valley and encourage friends to visit the Port City during next year’s festivities. With a little good word of mouth from Zuck, Bill Gates and some other loaded computer geeks might find their way to Mobile next year.
And if Dolph and JC have a kick-ass (see what I did there?) time, can The Rock or Stallone be that far from jamming someone’s head in a filthy toilet at Hayley’s on Joe Cain Day? Or Vin Diesel, at least? In fact, I’d rather see our streets flooded with has-been action heroes than geeky billionaires, but maybe that’s just a personal preference.
Many years ago I was watching a parade in New Orleans and Mr. Van Damme was the grand marshal. As he went by, three attractive young ladies screamed his name; he looked, and they flashed him in the way that has become a standard Mardi Gras greeting in The Big Easy. So I know he’s been to that much newer Mardi Gras, and such an experience may have made him more partial to New Orleans’ version of our party.
Having been there, it would be easy to understand why he might feel that way. But what Mobile lacks in the breast-flashing department we more than make up for in the hurling-of-snacks category. (OK, maybe snacks aren’t necessarily better than THAT, but they’re good.)
I’m certain the first time Jean-Claude and Dolph get hit upside the head with nanner MoonPies, their worlds are going to be rocked. How can a bunch of poorly raised women hope to compete with the wholesome deliciousness of a MoonPie? This would be an even more lopsided contest if our paraders hadn’t suddenly stopped throwing the thin mint or peanut butter MoonPies. It was cruel to take them off the menu and a blow to the city.
What has to be even more impressive to these Hollywood hunks who — let’s face it — probably aren’t raking in top dollar any more is the ever-growing menu of food being tossed from floats. MoonPies and ramen noodles have carried the load for many years, but I’d have to say the variety of edibles being hurled to the starving masses this year has been impressive.
We’ve caught so many different types of cookies, as well as popcorn, potato chips, corn chips, brownies and candy. A friend even told me about catching a package of Conecuh sausage! I also caught a roll of toilet paper Saturday night, which might have been meant for the guy who caught the sausage.
Can you imagine how grateful a couple of B-list actors or some frugal billionaire computer geeks would be to catch a few links of sausage along with Twinkies, off-brand cookies and toilet paper? Pocket that per diem and head back to the hotel room for a feast washed down with the best tap water MAWSS can provide! It’s hard to believe they wouldn’t be telling all their buddies about their raging good times in the Azalea City on Mardi Gras.
With Zuck, JC and Dolph as our emissaries it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion future Mardi Gras will be star-studded affairs, and those people are going to expect us to constantly improve our game. I would encourage riders from now on to simply empty out your refrigerators by Fat Tuesday. Frozen steaks, Hot Pockets, leftovers, old pizza — whatever you have.
And if all that’s not enough to win their hearts and stomachs, we still have the litter card to play.