Just as in the country-at-large there is a lot going on in my world today, but I wanted to share a couple of thoughts (and prove yet again that I am going to post with a little regularity). So a couple of non-football items:
As most of you are aware today is Super Tuesday. An endorsement from this site would mean absolutely nothing so I am not going to go through the trouble to endorse anyone or any party. I don’t care who you vote for, just, for the love of Pete, vote.
Filling out my ballot on election day is always a humbling experience; similar to the singing the National Anthem before a ball game. It is a feeling that I hope never changes because those are two things that people have died for me, or would die for me, to do. I appreciate that. So, if you are able, please go vote. Unless it’s for Shockey.
Secondly, today is Fat Tuesday which, around West Alabama, much like Cinco de Mayo is an excuse for people to drink, and mostly nothing more. I am all for an excuse to drink; for example, yesterday was Monday, and that was an excellent excuse to polish off an excellent bottle of Pinot Noir. Today is one of those days that you can justify imbibing a little (or a lot) more.
It has been my observation that the number and size of Mardi Gras parties in this area has increased in the last several years. I find that kind of strange because there are more banks in this town than Catholics. I understand that Mardi Gras is not the sole property of Catholics and that Mobile is about 250 miles away and that they are credited with having the first Mardi Gras celebrations in this country and therefore by proximity we should jump on that bandwagon. But Mobile, much like New Orleans has a large population of Catholics they have alway done Mardi Gras properly.
In this part of the state we are so decidedly not Catholic and not French (the true founders of the event) that most of us do not truly know what Mardi Gras is. Lent is the period of repentance, introspection, and self-denial that many Christians throughout the world observe. You often hear observers (and non-observers for that matter) speak of what they are “giving up for Lent”. It lasts for forty days (not counting Sundays) and ends on Easter. Easter is observed on the first Sunday, after the first full-moon, after the Vernal Equinox, which is to say the astronomical beginning of Spring and before you get all “that’s pagan” on me, it usually coincides with the Jewish Passover. Therefore, Easter and by virtue of the correlation between the two, Mardi Gras change dates from year to year. It is about the earliest it can be this year.
The forty days comes from the biblical story of Christ’s time in the wilderness during which he fasted and prayed in preparation for the beginning of his earthly ministry. Lent was intended, by its founders within the church I assume, since there is no direct biblical mandate to observe it, as a somber time. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday which, this year is tomorrow. Mardi Gras, or literally “Fat Tuesday” is today. The story goes that in the old country (France), the church required that all its members get rid of all the lard in the house by Ash Wednesday and so the tradition of cooking large meals with the remaining lard (read: fat) on the day before Lent began, which is always a Tuesday and therefore “Mardi Gras” was started. It evolved and grown into a celebration of not just excess calories but excess everything in anticipation of the solemnity of the season to come.
While Catholics observe it they are not the only ones . The Presbyterian, Episcopal, and Methodist faiths recognize it but in varying degrees depending on the denomination and congregation but it is not as big a deal as it is with Catholics. This is all based on my knowledge, which is certainly not exhaustive (or even correct). See, the thing is, around here there are more Baptists than there are people and they do not observe it. Of course in their defense, if you don’t drink, dance, fornicate, or work on Sundays what do you have to give up anyway. (just kidding – I know there are a lot of you Baptists out there that drink)
So, from a societal and cultural viewpoint, Mardi Gras is not a big deal, or at least hasn’t been until recently. Where am I going with this you ask? Well, on Friday night (a solid three days into the Lenten Season) I am hosting a poker game. It is my turn to host the game which rotates through several of my friends’ houses. It is a low-stakes, “fun” game and is usually attended by married men that just want a night away from home without getting into trouble and usually the night before we are stuck at home watching children as our wives, in the same manner, meet up and play Bunko. I am not sure what Bunko is but I am pretty sure that you cannot have a penis and play it. At any rate three or four of the regulars aren’t going to make it this week because they are going to what was described as a Mardi Gras Party. This is what ensued:
Me: A Mardi Gras Party? No, I said Friday.
Them: Yeah, I know. The Mardi Gras Party is Friday.
Me: Dude, you’ve got to be mistaken. Mardi Gras is Tuesday.
Them: No, it’s a Mardi Gras Party on Friday.
WTF? I can’t tell you how bad this bothers me. Not because I observe Lent. Not becasue I am a zealot about Lent. Because it’s a Mardi Gras Party held after Mardi Gras! What’s the effing point? If you want to have a party, have a party. I’m down with that. But don’t call it a Mardi Gras party. It would be the same as me saying, “hey, let’s go to the Quad and tailgate this weekend – yeah, I know there is no game, I just want to tailgate.”WTF?
The thing that really gets me is that most of these “Mardi Gras Clubs” here are just a group of women that don’t have enough to do and miss the sorority swaps. And it’s just an example of how pretentious their whole society is.
Ex Pledge Sister #1: “Oh my God! Let’s have a Mardi Gras Party.”
Ex Pledge Sister #2: “That would be like so much fun”
EPS 1: “Yeah! When should we have it?”
EPS2: “Well the only date the Country Club has is after Mardi Gras.”
EPS1: “Oh! Well that doesn’t matter. It can be our own special Mardi Gras Party.”
EPS2: “Oh My God! That is such a good idea! You’re so smart!”
It’s only hundreds of years of tradition. Just throw it right out the window. What the hell? Who cares? I guess I’m crazy but if your going to go through the trouble of keeping a tradition why would you stomp all over the heart of the tradition?
Oh well. Happy Mardi Gras and Happy Super Tuesday!