[As this post contains questionable activities, its writer has requested to remain anonymous. I'm going to call him the Soulard Spy, because I like alliteration.]
I was asked–no, I was challenged by Laura to do a write-up on Mardi Gras in St. Louis. She asked me to take some pictures, observe, and come up with an interesting article. I told her something to the effect of, “I’ll try, but there is no way in hell I’ll have enough ambition to put that much energy into something.” I’m not a writer. I think I’m goddamn awesome and my brain is far superior to most d-bag slobs around me, but let’s be real. I’m not going to give you any bullshit. I’m going to give you reasons why you’ll thank god you’re not me. I am an uptight, selfish, self-righteous asshole, and this is not an interesting article on the sights and sounds of Mardi Gras in Soulard. And I didn’t take any fucking pictures.
So Soulard. Soulard is a quirky little neighborhood just south of downtown St. Louis. Some people with the last name of Soulard got this land from somebody blah blah blah. Seriously, most of you really don’t care, but if you’re a history jerkoff, google that shit if you want the whole history. I did, but I’m a history jerkoff. Here’s what you need to know. The buildings down here are old and awesome. Mostly built in the 1800s, all of the buildings are made with beautiful brickwork and look like they’re haunted. Soulard is the home of the Anheuser-Busch brewery. We were pretty pissed when InBev bought it out, but now we have Budweiser Black Crown, and no one gives a flying shit. The neighborhood is also home to many amazing bars and restaurants, mostly filled with your typical college idiots on the weekends, testing out the limits of date rape. Oh, and Soulard is French for drunk. It’s got that going for it. But most of all, for one day, it’s a goddamn shit storm. That is Mardi Gras.
It’s rumored to be the second biggest Mardi Gras celebration after New Orleans. Thousands of people flock to this neighborhood to puke and piss on my house. Yes, I fucking live in Soulard. Ah ha! You thought I was one of those suburbanites who see this shit on the news or maybe went down to Mardi Gras for a few hours. Nope. Every year it feels like the fucking apocalypse is happening at my front door and the next day the stillness is deafening. You could hear a squirrel fart.
It’s Friday afternoon, and I have to leave in a few hours to pick up two friends who will be staying with me for the weekend. Let’s call them Pud and Skin. These guys are my best buds. I have known them for over ten years and we’ve gone through hell and back but we’re still standing. My girlfriend, let’s call her Twinklebutt, and I pick up Pud and Skin, and we head to the grocery store. We do this every year so everyone staying at the house can get their booze and whatever they want to eat for the weekend. My girlfriend always makes gumbo and red beans and rice, but you need snacks too just in case she fucks it up. I suggest we make a drink I saw on the interwebs called Skipper. For those who don’t know, it’s two cans of pink lemonade, a bottle of vodka, and a fucking twelve-pack of Natty Ice. The article promised that although the combination did not seem appealing, the pink mixture would go down real easy. Well, this store did not have Natty Ice. Pud says just get anything. I, being the uptight asshole that I am, swear up and down that without Natty Ice this project is a failure. After looks of pity and verbal abuse containing the words “man up,” I was persuaded that Keystone Ice would be fine. When we got home I set to work. We got out a big beverage dispenser thing and poured in the beers, added the vodka, then stirred in the frozen pink lemonade. I watched as this mixture did not form the wonderful pink hue as described in the article but looked rather like someone had a loose shit in river water. Goddamn Keystone Ice. I knew I was fucking right. So we taste it. I wouldn’t say it tasted bad, but it did not taste good. It did, however, go down very easy. We were on our way. Commence the Mardi Gras.
We started playing Cards Against Humanity and to our surprise we killed off the Skipper, which we had renamed to Soulard Shitwater. We quietly went to bed and hoped the uneasy silence gained by being too drunk and learning too much about each other and ourselves would creep out during the night, and a brighter, happier noise would creep in and fill its place. It did not.
What did fill its place at about eight in the morning was the goddamn end all of humanity. It’s common for people to start drinking early on Mardi Gras. It’s also common for people to play a little music while they are outside on their patios and porches. What’s not common is having a fucking P.A. directed at my house blaring some of the most god awful top 40 bullshit that has ever been shat out of the music industry. I awoke to a jaunty little number titled “Thrift Shop” by a nice young man named Macklemore. I must have heard that song twenty times that day, all from the same P.A. from the same fucking people. That song waking everyone in the house up would be the fuel, and all we needed was a spark to set this day into a flaming ball of shit. By the end of the night, I hated the sound of humans sucking air. So we woke up and Twinkles started on the gumbo.
Eventually, we set off for a house party, and during the trip we hear of a guy getting shot by the police two blocks away, Pud helps carry a drunk guy across the street, and we yell obscenities at people we don’t know. I feel a little bit better. For about one minute.
Russell is the street where most of our activity is located. It’s our Bourbon Street. Right as the four of us hit the corner of 9th and Russell, I release what I thought was going to be a fart. Now before you get too far ahead of me, I did not shit my pants. It’s that strange twilight between a clean ass and something a bit more wet than normal. Since the port-a-potties were all out of toilet paper, I told the guys I would be heading back home to take care of this, and depending on the situation I may or may not meet back up with them. I’m sure to everyone I passed on the street during the ten-block walk back home, I looked like a drunk guy pretending to be a penguin. Don’t make eye contact, just walk. Shuffle. Scoot. Whatever. Needless to say, I stayed in, and in a few hours the guys returned with their friend Striker, and they had found plenty of alcohol while they were gone. The guys are fucked. I’m told we’re going to go over and talk with the neighbors and hang out a bit, so we walk over to the building across the courtyard, go to the upstairs unit, and knock on the door. After chatting with the neighbor for a bit, I suggested we move our group to another location. It was then that I heard the words that would ignite the spark I spoke of earlier. “I’m gonna pop some tags, only got twenty dollars in my pocket.” Skin then said something to the effect of “How do we get up to that fucking P.A.?”
I soon find out that the quest to socialize with the neighbors was nothing but bullshit. Their intentions from the start were to seek out this blaring, god-awful P.A. and unplug it. I hated it too; it had been going nonstop for twelve hours and the playlist must have consisted of maybe seven shitty songs. Skin says he figured out how to get up to that porch and I follow them. My intentions were not to unplug this shit but to keep them from getting their assholes turned inside out. So we all climb these hazardous stairs that I’m sure at least ten people have died climbing in the last hundred years. When we reach the top we don’t go for the music first, we go inside. Guess what? You can’t even hear the goddamn music inside. You can hear it three blocks in every direction outside, but not inside. Fuckheads.
Now, the key to going into someone’s house party is to act like you’ve been in there already. You can’t just walk in the front door and stand there, you have to make your way with a purpose. So we stride right past the kitchen, into the living room, and set up posts. Pud and I lean against the mantle of an unlit fireplace. Skin goes to a little bar and starts making small talk with a barely functioning party-goer. The three of us are pretty much blending in. However, Striker makes a beeline for a couple of girls on the other side of the room. He starts to convince them that he’s a tennis player from Kansas City in town for the weekend. Turns out one of the girls knows some tennis player in K.C. and starts rattling off names. Of course he pretends to know them and starts giving details about matches he’s played with them. Now here’s the problem–if you’re a strange guy talking to a girl you don’t know, her boyfriend has a spider sense that will tingle. And it did indeed tingle. He was next to her side in record time. Now don’t get me wrong, I would do the same if I were in that situation, but it wasn’t me so he’s a douchebag. Meanwhile, Skin returns to Pud and I, swearing the drunk guy at the bar stole his gloves and he was going to beat his ass. I watched them the whole time; the drunk guy never even moved. Anyway, we’re drawing too much attention now so I break this group up, collect my boys, and then they all split upstairs. I never like to go upstairs at house parties because we know what happens up there. So I keep it lowkey downstairs while the rest are doing god knows what. About thirty seconds later, Striker comes quickly down the stairs, looks at me, and says, “Gotta go.” When your friend looks at you that certain way and says “Gotta go,” you do not speak, you just act. I’m down the stairs and headed out to the street when I hear the sudden, beautiful silence. You have no idea how amazing silence feels after being pounded with constant bullshit for twelve hours. Everyone comes out to the sidewalk and people down there are asking what happened to the music. Skin tells them that the police were called and they had to turn it off. This guy makes lying an art form. It is enchanting to behold. I then suggest we move our group from line of sight and walk the fuck around the block.
When we get to the other corner, two things are happening at the same time. I’m getting filled in on all the details I missed while groups of people are running from the party yelling that the cops are coming. While the guys were upstairs, they were checking out the rooms, and as you might have figured, they were filled with guys trying to make sweet love to some lovely young ladies. I was told that one guy looked directly into their fucking souls and told them to get out. However, when Skin unplugged the P.A., some guy just stood there and watched it. Said nothing, just stood there staring. He was either too drunk to understand what the hell was happening or in shock that he could actually hear. So because they had drawn so much attention to themselves, I suggested we get off the street and into the back alley by my house.
As soon as we reach the alley, that goddamn music starts again. And it’s louder. My group is in chaos now. Skin is convinced that guy stole his gloves and he’s got to go back up there and kick his ass. Pud is so angry that he can hardly speak, but he’s sure that we need to go back up on that patio and fuck that P.A. up for good. Striker is actually having the best time right now, pissing on the dumpster and smashing bottles in the alley. It was like all my friends went fucking primal on me. I’m standing here looking at this scene and I crack. I yell at them saying something to the effect of, “If any of you go back up there, you are fucked! I will not help you. If you go to jail, you are on your own! If you manage to not get arrested, find a Plan B because you are not sleeping in my house! I’m sick of this shit, why can’t we just have a good time? Why do we have to be so angry? THIS SHIT STOPS NOW!”
After eight p.m. on Russell, it’s a sad scene. Most bars are closing up, people are dispersing, and the drunkest of the drunk are on display. We were included in that later category. Now let me be clear, at this point I was completely sober and had been for most of the day. These guys had been acting like complete fucktards for so long, I knew I had to babysit. But now we were on Russell and there were many drunks around, and where there are drunks there are police. I figured this was the safest place for them right now. Boy was I wrong.
Nah, just kidding. Nothing really happened. I go inside and sit with Twinklebutt on the couch. She asks how things went. I tell her she really doesn’t want to know. She trusts the look of exhaustion on my face and asks no more questions. Eventually, the guys come back inside as well. I point out to Skin that his gloves are on the table over by the door where he left them. It is now just nine p.m. and I was tired. I was worn out. I was done protecting them and other people. My friends aren’t terrible people. They are actually quite amazing people. They are musicians, artists, movie buffs, debaters, critical thinkers, and much more. They had a great time this weekend while I was stressed out beyond belief. I spent my weekend cleaning, tolerating loud music, keeping people out of my house, making sure people were fed, making sure people were behaving, and watching over three grown men. I could have gotten just as drunk. I could have gone right along with all the shit they did tonight. Someone could have gone to jail. Someone could have gotten hurt. But all day I was an uptight, selfish, self-righteous asshole. Because they are my brothers.
Next year I’m locking up the house and going to New Orleans.
Assholes better not steal my gloves.