Wednesday, March 05, 2003

Ash Wednesday 

A dense fog settled just above our heads, over the city for Fat Tuesday, lending a surreal, visionary landscape to an already somewhat illusory event. We couldn't see the sky all day, into the night. Maskers paraded the streets alongside ancient buildings dripping with the moisture from the low ceiling. We stumbled bravely, my friends Sue and Rosebud and I, with our 35-plus baggage in tow, dampened with a little kindness and Heinekens. We marched to BJ's bar around the corner, Sue dressed like a cute slut, Rosebud and I in "come as you are" garb.

I immediately noticed how attractive the bar tender was, in her sequins and feathers, a Mardi Gras warrioress, confidently serving those that come to her altar. We worshipped at that altar, pumping dollars into the juke box, the three of us raising choir-like voices to the heavens, and salute, prosit, the world is our oyster only to be plucked, if we so believe. "L'chaim".

We shook booty for several hours, to James Brown, to the Beatles, to the Eagles (there was no "new" music on the juke box, but the best of the old). The guys were all over Sue; she was to have her pick that night, as she did say she wanted to give up her chastity for Lent. Two women came in silver makeup from head to toe, breasts exposed. One gave me the nod, when I was shaking down to the ground, and I felt blessed by a silver goddess. The cute bar tender smiled and waved at me from across the room, at me, only me. I melted to my toes. She was there with her boyfriend, but it didn't matter, not that I would have wanted to do anything to disturb their relationship, but this is Mardi Gras, and what is important is this instantaneous feeling, and somehow the belief that that is all that ought to be important.

Suddenly, I was sober, just like that. Time to leave. The rest of the evening would be as a member of the audience watching the circus. Rosebud was ready to go, though happy, even though "there's no dick for me here", he lamented.

Today, Ash Wednesday, little old ladies and older gentlemen with ash marked on their foreheads came for coffee, some with bent shoulders as though carrying the cross. My boss got mad because I forgot to change a light bulb upstairs, Rosebud came for coffee and said he has been given an eviction notice, and the guy Sue went home with last night left adruptly."I don't know what I said to him", she said, "but he promised to be by my side always in friendship." I am left wondering, "Just what did happen yesterday." The dense fog hanging over the city lifted partially, and we are left to ponder the ideal that was yesterday, the ideal that becomes the beacon that is never forgotten.