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07.17.01 8:08 p.m.

"All great deeds and all great thoughts have a ridiculous beginning. Great works are often born on a street corner or in a restaurant's revolving door."

 -Albert Camus 

In bad sitcoms, when the show is getting stale, they come up with some ridiculous premise to send the cast to some exotic locale in the failed belief that this will benefit said shows ratings. Really, a pathetic idea. How could that possibly interest people, as it will clearly result in very banal, well-recorded antics? Drek.
That being said... Emily, Melissa, and I (and two of Melissa's friends) are going to Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Yes, really.
As far as I can piece the story together, Melissa had been reading Anne Rice books and capriciously decided that she wanted to go to New Orleans. Last night, she tried to solicit her friend Evan to come with her. He, as far as I can tell, gave a vague and indecisive answer as he undoubtedly didn't think she was serious.
This morning, her friend Liz and she were surfing the internet, which all of you little cyber fiends know is the path to damnation. She stumbled upon a travel site and ended up reserving a hotel near New Orleans for about a week during Mardi Gras. Her mother, perhaps not terribly surprisingly (for reasons we won't get into), forked over her credit card to fund this adventure. So reservations at a decent hotel were made.
At about this time, Melissa called me hoping I'd play Jiminy Cricket and say this was a bad idea. Or rather, reinforce that her impetuousness could be used for good as well as evil. I was jazzed that she had decided to do this, as I am all for ridiculous adventures involving hotel rooms. And, c'mon! It's bloody New Orleans. As an Anne Rice fan (it's a sad, sad affliction), how could I not be thrilled for her? Emily too stated that this idea was quite kick-ass in a tone of voice usually reserved for small dogs on stimulants. She was a whole band of jazzed.
Emily and I awoke and decided that China Buffet 2000 was the order of the morning (I swear to Bacchus, they put addictive chemicals in the General Tsao's Chicken). As such, we requested that Melissa and Liz meet us outside said establishment once they were ready. We watched them through the window, lounging upon Melissa's car and smoking as only proper hoodlums can. Still, we did not rush. Addictive chicken, you understand, is a powerful mistress.
As I covered the check, Emily proclaimed that she would buy the assembled group ice cream. Much with the ice cream, she and I are. Melissa and Liz were certainly all for eating ice cream, so we walked the requisite 500 feet to Carnival Ice Cream (in no way, shape, or form related to Carvel Ice Cream that stood on that spot for twenty years. Don't be foolish) where we generally harassed Mylar balloons and laughed at the available ice cream cakes.
Once we had sat and obtained ice creamy goodness, (well, not so good as they were out of normal vanilla ice for my Razzle {in no way affiliated with Blizzard, a trademarked iced cream treat of Daily Queen, all rights reserved in all perpetuity throughout the universe and Jesus loves you, even though Razzles bore an unholy resemblance to Blizzards. It's a bloody conspiracy, I tell you!} and I had little interest in something called "sugar free vanilla." I remarked that I required my ice cream sugared. Tis the way nature intended it) we began to discuss the sheer greatness of going to Mardi Gras. Somehow, Emily and I got included in the plans for the trip. So, as I covered above, we are going to New Orleans! Home of Vampires, Whores, Pickpockets, and College Girls Gone Wild (Volumes I-XI). Huzzah! Melissa designated us as the all-important "sober people" that would be integral to the road tripping. I was very much okay with that, despite the reported 27 hour drive to Weezy Anna (Louisiana for those of you readers that exist outside of the States. And yes, they do exist).
Finishing my not particularly enjoyable Razzle, M decided that gum was greatly needed and that we should walk the necessary 600 feet to CVS to procure her some. This didn't stop her from taking a piece of mine, for the long walk.
We wandered CVS as proper hooligans, and ended up getting out blood pressure checked in their drug store area (I am a healthy 110/78 with a heart rate of 95. I was nervous). After we were all checked out on the machine (save for Liz, who has planned her death out. Don't ask), M bought her gum and pony elastics from the drug store area, I suspect just to get the special drug store bag.
Then, as is necessary, we went to a playground. Chatting for a bit on the swings, we quickly arrived back at the Mardi Gras trip. Clearly more planning was needed. Fortunately for us, there was a huge spray painted map of the United States in the parking lot, which we promptly put to use. We walked the distance between New York and Louisiana, about ten feet. Clearly this would be an easy trip and thank the gods for that handmade giant map.
After we were sated of using pavement to give us direction, we sat and reveled more in how greatly this impetuous plan was turning out. A woman and a very tiny baby got out of the car on the far side of the parking lot. The baby looking at us and began toddling toward our party slowly. I smiled sweetly and said audibly enough that the three lasses with me could register my words, but no one any further, "C'mere, we have candy!." She sped over and her grandmother gently said, "I thought we were going to play with the little kids," and took her to the playground. See, kids love me and are evidently not taught early enough that longhaired men are evil. Especially those that offer candy.

reading: Communion: A True Story, Whitley Strieber
listening: Cabaret
wanting: more savings for the eventual trip
interesting thought: Yesterday, I was not going to Mardi Gras. Today I am. Fate is nice like that sometimes.
moment of zen: Awaking from a dream to a better one in my bed with me.

Thomm Quackenbush is an author and teacher in the Hudson Valley. Double Dragon publishes four novels in his Night's Dream series (We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys). He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, and tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted. He is capable of crossing one eye, raising one eyebrow, and once accidentally groped a ghost. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings. He likes when you comment.

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