Mobile sauntered away from the Butterfly Maidens Parade last weekend with a slice of American cheese, some dried ramen noodles and a Crichton Leprechaun plush toy in her throw bag.
Though the cheese didn’t really make any sense to the 318-year-old city, she was happy she scored the hottest new throw of 2020, even if she really didn’t like being so well known for such a stupid viral news story. “Thanks a lot, NBC15,” she sighed.
Pensacola brings it up every single time she sees her. “This amateur sketch,” she says, as she bends over in laughter.
Every. Single. Time.
But even she had to admit it was pretty funny, and life is too short to worry about that kind of nonsense. Except she’s a city and cities don’t die — kind of like vampires, but less fangy and blood-sucky. So maybe she would worry about it for a few decades. You know, for sport, just to keep her mind occupied.
As she made her way back down the street to her home at Government Plaza, she reflected on the last year. The more things change, the more they stay the same, she thought.
Her current mayor, Sandy Stimpson, had promised her she would be the safest, most business- and family-friendly city in America by 2020.
She definitely thinks she has improved in some of those areas, although she would certainly not use the word “most.” And while she is happy her fiscal house is in order, it does seem like when you turn on the news every night there is yet another homicide. From parking lots to inside grocery stores, what is going on? Why can’t we seem to keep all this senseless loss of life from happening? Why can’t she?
Stimpson also said we would be “One Mobile.” Her previous mayor, Sam Jones, had said we were “too busy to be divided.” Senator Doug Jones is now using the slogan “One Alabama” in his campaign.
Mobile laughed so she wouldn’t cry.
“Good luck with all that,” she thought.
Things seem pretty hopeless right now. Everyone in this whole country is making it their job to be divided and definitely don’t want to be “one” anything.
It breaks her heart, all this hatred and vitriol sweeping her great nation from sea to shining sea. Families and friends no longer speaking, and over what? Politics. Stupid (expletive) politics. And it is no doubt only going to get worse this year, with the election coming up.
That’s one of the reasons she loves Mardi Gras so much and is so proud she birthed it well before New Orleans was even a city. And it was a difficult labor, involving folly and death and pig bladders. It’s a long story.
She made a note to herself to call NOLA and remind her she started it for the 3,000th time. NOLA always just said no one cared because hers was better, but Mobile knew it got under her skin. It was all in good fun. And that’s what Mardi Gras is all about.
It’s so nice to be able to stand outside, behind the barricades with complete strangers, who may be richer or poorer, younger or older than you, who may have different political views and none of that matters — at least for the hour you are standing by each other screaming, “Throw me something, mister!”
Sure, there are divisions she still isn’t proud of in the societies, but that’s just a small percentage of the population. Out on her streets, her people come together, and she has always enjoyed the beauty of these two weeks. If only that “One Mobile” feeling could last beyond Mardi Gras Day. Maybe someday it will.
Her thoughts drifted to other things — some good, some concerning.
Will she get a fancy new Civic Center that can accommodate both Mardi Gras and cool touring acts? Would she see more progress on the Three Mile Creek Trail?
Will she gain more citizens with annexation or continue to lose them to Baldwin County and West Mobile? She really wishes that hadn’t become such a political hot potato, and all of her city councilors could come together on a plan they all can feel OK with, so she can GROW, GROW, GROW!
If there is anything annoying that Birmingham is always complaining about (but is right about), it is just how absolutely strangled she feels by Vestavia, Mountain Brook, Homewood and all of the other snotty little cities with their fancy school systems that hurt hers.
Why can’t they see this is where they could be headed? She felt her chest tighten just thinking about it. I guess personal political ambitions are always going to trump what’s best for the city. But maybe — just maybe — they can figure this out. Sometimes these goofballs surprise her.
But if they don’t, she just knows that baseball team-stealing Huntsville with all her rocket scientists and cool space stuff is poised to become just as insufferable and arrogant as Birmingham. Those two will be sitting at the cool girl lunch table together battling it out over who is the only city in the state that really matters, while she and Montgomery would be relegated to the nerd table with the other lesser cities like Dothan, Tuscumbia and the Athens that’s in Alabama, “not Georgia!”
And Montgomery would still have her retort, “Well, I’ll always be the capital. They can’t take that away from me.” Then, as she always does, she would sing it like she’s Ella Fitzgerald or Frank Sinatra or someone, “No, they can’t take that away from me!”
Mobile was getting so depressed she was thinking about stress-eating that Butterfly Maiden cheese she caught earlier in the evening.
But as she reached the corner of Government and Jackson, she looked down toward the Mobile River and saw the lights of her busy port, and when she looked up she saw beads elegantly draped from the branches of a giant oak tree. And she beamed with pride.
What was she thinking? She would always be the coolest city in Alabama. By a mile.
“No they can’t take that away from me,” she hummed to herself as she paraded on down Government Street, nibbling on a slice of cheese.
Happy Mardi Gras!
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