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Column:Music industry studies senior Phil Cork explains why Mardi Gras isn't his cup of beads.

By Phil Cork
On February 12, 2014

  • Music Industry Studies Senior. Phil Cork

Don't get me wrong, I love king cake, and I thoroughly enjoy taking an extra week off from school. Mardi Gras itself, though? Not so much these days.
For me, Mardi Gras is incredibly nostalgic. I was born in New Orleans and lived about three miles away from Loyola until I was five, while my grandparents lived on the West Bank until Hurricane Katrina. Throughout my childhood, Mardi Gras was a huge family affair, despite the fact that my family was fairly small. Consisting of just my mom, my aunt and uncle and my grandparents, there weren't many of us, but we always had a good time. Even after my mom and I moved away, Mardi Gras became one of my favorite times to visit my grandparents.
Every year, my family would all go to my grandfather's social club, which was directly on many of the parade routes. We spent our days watching the parades, catching beads and eating moonpies with the other families.
When I was nine years old, I even met my first "girlfriend" at Mardi Gras. We had a very stable six-month long distance relationship based on mutual interest in Pokemon and climbing trees, all thanks to meeting at the wonderful celebration of Fat Tuesday. Even today, these memories of making new friends and spending time with my family stand out as some of the most vivid childhood experiences.
Fast-forward to my freshman year at Loyola when I've just finished walking to Muses by myself on a school night. For the first few minutes, it was entertaining to people-watch and see the different floats, but I quickly grew bored. I had no desire to catch the beads and I wasn't hungry for moonpies.
The whole night seemed very different from my memories. After spending about thirty minutes at the parade, I started the walk back along the streetcar lines. Realizing that night could be a fluke, I later made sure to go to a handful of other parades with a small group of friends. Even so, I could tell that it simply wasn't for me.
One of the main reasons Mardi Gras hasn't appealed to me while in college is the fact that I don't drink. I don't have anything against it, but it's simply never interested me. In addition, the introvert in me doesn't really get psyched about huge crowds unless it's for a concert or Saints' game. Since parades are basically a citywide tailgating party, you can hopefully see why a sober introvert wouldn't be thrilled with the idea.
Instead of participating in the Mardi Gras festivities, I've used the extra week off to go home, spend time with my family, travel and visit friends.
Freshman year, I went to see my oldest friend, who was studying at Mississippi State. We spent all week catching up, playing video games and eating junk food, which is basically the core of our fifteen-year friendship.
Sophomore year, I drove to where I grew up in Daphne, Alabama and showed my girlfriend all of my favorite places to get food and hang out.
Junior year, I studied abroad in the U.K.
This year, I'm not sure what I'll be doing yet. You probably won't catch me at a parade, but I will definitely still be enjoying the break.
With that said, laissez les bons temps rouler.  

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