On our first visit to New Orleans together, my husband and I were walking along Decatur towards the French Market. There was an Indian man selling hats and other tourist baubles. As we girded our loins against the coming pitches and tried to be polite while avoiding eye contact, he asked us if we were party poopers. There is something funny about anyone asking that question, but in his Indian/English accent on that hot Spring day with buskers in our distant vision, it sounded even funnier. We listened to the pitch and bought a hat. We might have bought 2 hats. Suckers. But, it was worth it, because in the years since, guarded manners and negative feelings about something can be buffed a little evener by one of us posing that question. If I’m being honest, I have to confess that it’s usually my husband posing it to me, to make me laugh out of my mood.
That’s right. I’m a party pooper. I get anxious in large crowds. Especially if those large crowds have really smelly people, and people smoking really smelly things in them. It doesn’t matter if I’m smelly, too.
So please have that understanding of me in your pocket as I tell this story:
A couple of weeks ago, we decided to venture into the Beale Street Music Festival. Music Fest. Words that harken back to memories of mud, sludge, and bands fighting for sound space overlooking the Mississippi. When I was in college, I would have had the line-up memorized the week before, a 3-day pass, and the only thing left to chance would be which friends I’d meet while down there. Those commitments had to be so loose, so cool.
Nowadays, I choose a few artists – no stage bouncing for me. I plan for no TP in the port-o-potties, no hand sanitizer in the dispensers, cheap beer, and I dress for comfort and cleanliness. Foulness abounds at this place, especially below your knees. I wore an REI skirt, tank top, and tennis shoes. Fashion icon, I was not. But the only funk to clean from my toes that night was my own. That has to count for something.
I spent the first two artists mostly enjoying it, overlooking the sweaty, smelly people around me, even the ones stepping in my view-path and reaching over me to keep the beach balls up in the air. This party pooper even had a little smirk on her face while she let the air out of one of those beach balls. It felt good – almost like I was defending the artist from distraction. It just seemed rude to me, and they weren’t big enough balls to be that much fun anyway. Just annoying.
As the third artist started, I started losing it a little. I’ll usually start getting a little aggressive with my stance, and protective of my personal space. After I elbowed a girl who knocked my shoulder, I decided it was time for me to breath some clean air, and high-tailed it out of the crowd. Standing way back, on what amounts to a small hill in these parts, I finished watching Buddy Guy – most excellent musical offerings! Jason and I met back up in front of the funnel cake stand and left.
I’m not saying that I’ll ever attend again…but if I do, I’ll be sure to take a Xanax or some other anti-anxiety beforehand. More fun for everyone that way. Party poopage will cease.