BOOKS REMAINING: 8
CURRENT BOOK: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Okay, I’m not a native of New Orleans (I was born and raised near Chicago). So it’s harder for me to appreciate or see the point of Mardi Gras as much as someone who has lived here all of his or her life. Case in point: my husband, who never misses certain parades and goes out to stand on the side of the street on Mardi Gras day even when it is both raining AND freezing cold, attempting to catch cheap plastic beads and other items which have no value except for the momentary thrill of catching the item after it has been thrown off of a float by a costumed, masked, and usually drunk individual. Not my gig. I’ll stay warm and dry and even organize my closet, thanks.
Still, in an effort to make a new group of friends, I joined a marching group pretty much because I liked the baroque style costume with corset, bustle, and pompadour wig. Last year it was quite a novelty being IN the parade, even though five miles is quite exhausting for someone as un-athletic as me. As much as I do not like standing at the curb waiting for the parade, dancing in the streets as part of the parade was something different. You don’t have to actually be able to dance because the marching clubs are a new thing and the group was still looking for new members so if you paid your dues and showed up, you were in. Since last year went well, I signed up to do it again and try to maintain the camaraderie I was starting to develop with some of the other ladies.
Unfortunately, it did not go so well this year.
Friday was our first parade and it rained. Luckily my K-Mart special rain poncho was a real champ. Not to mention my tactical/hiking boots, which I swear would be the only thing left besides maybe a few Twinkies if an atomic bomb were to go off nearby. The parade moved quickly because the crowds were thinner, so it was over sooner. But that’s about all I can say. It was a “go and do” rather than something that was fun. I will say that the people who did show up to watch the parades were enthusiastic, and I give them a lot of credit for coming out and cheering us on. Every once in a while I would even hear someone saying to us that they appreciated us being there, and that counts.
After the bad weather moved through, and I rested on Saturday, the weather was beautiful on Sunday for our second parade. It was even a bit warm while we were waiting. We got going late and ended up stalled for 45 minutes when one of the floats in front of us broke down, but no big deal. It happens. Then, towards the end, my husband who acts as a chaperone (for crowd control, to pass around water, and to help with other things) got onto the trailer carrying our two port-a-potties and our belongings, which is pulled behind us by our DJ who plays our music out of speakers hooked up to his heavy-duty truck. My husband had good intentions of retrieving our bag just before the parade ended before 30-40 women would be mobbing the trailer and trying to retrieve their bags. Unfortunately, he took a stumble and cut the front of his shin open and of course the only place open at that time on Sunday night for him to obtain medical care was the emergency room. I was tired and hungry and, correctly assuming he would only need a couple of stitches and a prescription, let him drop me at home before he went to get checked out. I had wanted to get food sooner near the end of the parade route and I was at my wits’ end.
Now I am paranoid that something even worse will happen during my last march this Friday. The way this year is going I am going to wind up being the one to take a stumble and I will actually break something and wind up on crutches when we go to Ireland. Not acceptable. I didn’t even get any energy back until today and I’m not quite sure I’m physically capable of making it five miles again.
Anyway, amidst all this chaos I did finish Pride and Prejudice. This is a re-read from both high school and college. Rather than digging through the disaster area of a back bedroom to try to locate the bulky annotated copy which I may or may not have kept from college, I was fortunate enough that something was finally easy and a copy of the novel was stored in my library on my electronic reader because it came with my device/account when the device’s predecessor was purchased. So I was able to tear right into it, a good thing now that I am getting down to the wire.
From a feminist perspective, I noted how much wealth and social position once mattered when choosing a marriage partner. It still does, but not to the same extent, especially for a woman who is not going to rely on her husband as her sole means of support. The female leads in Pride and Prejudice are fortunate to marry for love, and above their station. The love-hate relationship between Elizabeth and Darcy seems to be a precursor to some of the modern romantic comedies. Romantic comedies were what Jane Austen’s novels were, especially at the time they were written. And, as with the modern romantic comedies, the hero finally proves himself to the heroine, she accepts him, and after a serious of misadventures everything works out in the end wherein the characters do love each other and are going to be together happily ever after.
Elizabeth is fortunate that her father is concerned for her happiness and does not insist that she marry a man with whom she does not want to share her life. I am not sure how many other Regency-era parents would have been quite as understanding, particularly since the family’s estate is entailed and the daughters’ only chance of obtaining financial security following their father’s death is for them to marry financially stable husbands, as they are gentlewomen and obtaining a trade is less acceptable.
Anyway, as far as Mardi Gras goes, I’m not going to jinx myself by thinking my husband and I must have used up our quota and nothing bad could happen. I’m going to hope that all is indeed well that ends well — just like the best romantic comedies.