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Chicago is getting hammered by snow this weekend. I walked out the door this morning to a solid seven inches on my front patio, and the accumulation is still climbing. The sidewalks aren’t shoveled, and only a few souls have been toeing the line between dumb and brave to try and drive anywhere. Duda said it best in his column (that, admittedly, I didn’t read) when he told us all to pull a Shining and hole up in a nice hotel this weekend.
However, there is another option, and it’s one I chose long before any snow was ever predicted: Run. Get out of town and hide from this treacherous weather. Specifically, I’m heading to Mardi Gras.
Now, before we all jump on board the Charlie Goes To Mardi Gras Hype Train, I need to establish a few things. The first is that this is not the legendary Mardi Gras that they tell tales about late at night in college. I’m not going to New Orleans or anything. I wish I were, but that’s a pretty penny to cough up when I’m saving for a trip to Europe this spring. I’ll be roughing it, taking the six-hour train ride from Chicago to St. Louis this evening.
I’ll be honest, I’m a little apprehensive about this trip. I don’t know what to expect. None of us do, really. There are five of us heading down from Chicago to meet up with two of my college buddies who now live in St. Louis, plus another two coming in from Columbia. Speaking on behalf of myself, I didn’t even know that St. Louis had a Mardi Gras celebration until I moved to Missouri for school. Personally, I’m picturing something like Chicago’s Twelve Bars Of Christmas bar crawl, only with beads this time.
But this whole notion of not knowing what to expect goes much deeper than just “is this going to be utter bedlam in the streets.” The fact is, the majority of our crew is 24, pushing 25 years old. For the longest time, we’ve been dialing it back when we go out drinking, fearing the crushing hangover that we’ll likely incur the next day. Okay, maybe I’m just speaking for myself, but I think I’m washed up. I’m pretty sure a bunch of my other friends think that, too, they’re just not ready to admit it yet.
That’s where Brett comes in. Brett is 23 years old and he’s been a controversial part of our group for years. I’m bringing Brett up because that’s who we’re staying with, and that’s who’s going to be the boost of momentum we need to act like idiots once again. He’s the shot of adrenaline that wakes up Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction. The second cup of coffee that opens your eyes a little wider. The fart you let out during a race to help you run faster.
Brett is controversial because he takes no prisoners. He doesn’t just want to have a good time, he wants to have the best time anyone has ever had, and he wants you there with him (most of the time). Our current game plan is to wake up and get to a Kegs and Eggs by 9:00 in the morning and play the whole rest of the day by ear. I’m terrified, but somewhat comforted, by the fact that the whole group is excited about this. If we’re all completely ham sandwiched together, there’s no reason we can’t stand in unison to fight the impending hangover, right?
Sure, I’ve got other hesitations on my mind. More questions that I’m afraid to ask for fear of looking anything other than “laid back.” Do you wear coats? Or is it more of a layers thing? How are we going to fit four air mattresses in one room? Is my girlfriend going to like my friends from college? You know, the usual stuff.
I knew I was going to be drinking a lot this weekend. The second the idea of going to Mardi Gras was even brought up, I had a sneaking suspicion that it was going to be a bender. Nobody explicitly said it, but the thought was always there. We’re drinking on the train there, hitting the bars once we arrive, starting the next morning bright and early, and riding that wave for the 36 hours after that. If I were a gambling man, I would place bets on someone (me) puking on the train ride back home. However, that’s a Sunday Charlie problem.
Friday Afternoon Charlie is ready for a Hurricane. Wish me luck..