California Dreamin’ – 1982 to 1984 – Chapter 6 – The French Quarter – Part 2

First, let me give you some history on Mardi Gras.

Mardi Gras is actually only one night. Fat Tuesday. The night before Ash Wednesday. The weeks of partying before Mardi Gras is actually Carnival.

For the entire Carnival, they never clean Bourbon Street. They can’t. Since the bars are open 24 hours a day, never close no matter what, it’s impossible to clean up. In other words, when you walk down Bourbon Street, you never look down. If you drop something, it’s gone man, forget it. After Mardi Gras, you throw away your shoes.

When you walk down Bourbon, things you step on squish, crunch, slide, make little crying noises, so you NEVER look down.

Some of the people arrested during Carnival are held in jail until Mardi Gras and forced to clean the streets. Now that’s punishment.

At Midnight on Fat Tuesday, they lock all the doors to all the bars and other establishments on Bourbon, and anyone caught on the street is arrested. Once all the doors are locked, the Police come down the street. A line of three Patrol cars, followed by a line of Police on horse back, followed by three SWAT trucks, followed by three Street Sweepers.

They cruise down the street arresting people while they clean the streets.

On to the story.

Frank and I are just going from bar to bar and drinking our faces off. It’s a crazy time and I can’t believe I’m already living this life on the road. People are dancing in the streets and i feel like I’m in a scene from Easy Rider at 19 years old.

We’re in Bourbon Blues (an awesome club on Bourbon Street) and I start talking to the guy next to me. He says his name is Tim and he’s from Cincinnati. He sells Bingo supplies. We talk for a while and he offers to buy us a round of drinks. Four, thirty-two ounce Hurricanes. And these are seven dollars each, plus one for himself….Do the math.

I thank him, and he says, “No, you’re not done yet.” And proceeds to order two shots of Tequila and two shots of 151 Rum into EACH drink. Shots are five bucks each, that makes each drink worth Twenty-Seven dollars, and he bought five of them.

My idiot friends ( We just met yesterday) don’t realize what’s going on, all they know is that there’s a fresh drink waiting for them. They don’t know about the four extra shots in them.

So we talk, finish our drinks and I tell him that I’ve got the next round.

He says no, and buys another round of five, Twenty-Seven dollar Hurricanes.

And the guys I’m with still have no idea what the hell is going on. They still think it’s just a normal Hurricane.

We finish that round, and once again I offer to buy a round. And once again, he declines and orders another round the same way.

And once again, my friends have no idea what they’re drinking.

When we finish this round, I offer one last time to pay for the round, and once again, he buys it instead. Let me break this down for you. Four rounds of five drinks at Twenty-Seven bucks a drink = $540.00.

I figure this is the nicest person I’ve ever met in my life.

Then my Philly Paranoia kicks in and I figure he’s going to ditch and stick me with the bill. Until I see him hand the bartender a credit card, get his slip, sign it and hand back the receipt.

Now I know he’s the nicest guy I’ve ever met.

Halfway through the drink I turn around, and Tim’s gone. He’s like the alcoholic Lone Ranger. What a nice guy. For the next hour, I was truly planning on flying to Cincinnati and find Tim and thank him personally.

A little while later I’m at the bar talking to a girl when I feel a rumbling in my stomach. I excuse myself and proceed to puke all over the floor while sitting right there at the bar. Thankfully my friends were there to take pictures.

After I was done, I wiped my mouth, apologized and continued talking to the girl.

That was when we realized that Tim isn’t all that nice. He got us so drunk we could hardly walk. From then on he was known as “Evil Tim” and we all planned a trip to Cincinnati to kill him, or at the very least, hold him down and pour a bottle of 151 down his throat.

At 2 am, I turn to my friends and announce, “I’m leaving.”

“You can’t leave,” Juan tells me, “They haven’t opened the doors yet.”

“Why do you want to leave?” Mikey asks.

“I’m out of cigs. I’m leaving.”

Ten minutes later we’re outside the club, on the street, in the middle of an insane riot.

To this day, we have no idea how we got outside. There were bouncers guarding every door and window.

So we’re in the street, there are people running everywhere, and about thirty feet away I see a bunch of cop cars with the sirens on.

I turn to Frank, Juan and Mikey and say, “Hey, let’s go see what’s going on with the cops over there.”

And I started walking towards the ruckus.

Mikey grabs us by the arm, points down a side street and says, “Why don’t we go this way instead?”

I turn to Mikey and say, “For once I agree with the Jew.”

And we followed him to safety.

The next day Frank and I walked around the cloudy aftermath and took some pictures and then got back on the road.

Definitely and insane detour but well worth it.

 

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