The Cavalier Daily
Serving the University Community Since 1890

Cross-country car ride for beads, beer and bare chests

A week ago, two friends and I went to New Orleans to enjoy the festivities of Mardi Gras. That's right, we drove 32 hours to spend 48 hours at our destination. Did we have a good time? Yes. Am I mentally unstable? Certainly.

We saw all the noteworthy sights of New Orleans - Jackson Square, the streetcars, the Super Dome and half-naked women (not necessarily in order of importance).

However, before my friends and I viewed those sights, we had to endure a 16-hour car trip. There are certain things one must realize about being crammed in a Jeep Cherokee with two other guys for a long period of time. First, no matter how you position yourself in the backseat, you will always end up with your knee in your mouth. Second, whenever you try to go to sleep, the one guy who actually likes 'N Sync will decide it is time to blast "Bye, Bye, Bye." (The ironic thing is that no matter how many times 'N Sync sings "Bye, Bye, Bye," they never go away!) The truth is, much to my horror, both of the guys I was with like 'N Sync. Needless to say, I have never come so close to jumping out of a moving vehicle.

The most interesting part of the car trip was stopping for gas at the little towns in the middle of Alabama and Mississippi. Strange things happen in these towns. We stopped at a place called The Omelet Shoppe at 4:30 in the morning. I am pretty sure the only reason it is spelled "shoppe" is not to give off an old-fashioned charm, but because the owners don't know how to spell.

At this establishment at 4:30 a.m., we actually saw a family with a 3-year-old child. I was thinking, "She's 3 years old! Let her go to bed! Less omelets, more sleep!" But I didn't say that because I don't like to tell others how to raise their kids and also because this particular family had three guns on a rack in their truck.

Following a full night of driving, we arrived at my friend's house where we were staying and slept for an entire half-hour before waking up to go out on the town. Even though we didn't drink much, we still were extremely wasted from sleep deprivation.

For those of you who don't know, Mardi Gras consists of millions of people drinking a lot while men give women beads to lift up their shirts. The primary method that men use to obtain the beads is to grab them as women throw beads out from balconies above the streets.

Here's the formula of Mardi Gras in a nifty flow chart: Girls throw beads to guys _ guys throw beads back to girls _ girls lift their shirts _ guys yell and drool like monkeys with brain damage _ repeat.

It's a vicious cycle, and if continued uninterrupted, it can last for years. The only way to stop it is to convince a woman to run naked down the street, so all the men will chase her several miles into the Gulf of Mexico.

I find it strange that no matter how many times guys see a topless woman, we still go crazy about it. Most guys have seen bare-chested women in one form or another thousands of times, yet the second a shirt gets pulled up, we stand there like we've just come across the lost city of Atlantis. We go into shock. We stand in a catatonic state in fear that if we move, we might wake up from the wonderful dream.

Now, women may wonder why the guys at Mardi Gras do not take off some of their clothes. Well, some do, but it's less common (thank God). I think the explanation for this is that women don't need a special event to see guys naked. All they have to do is ask.

Situation 1: Guy: Show me your "headlights."

Girl: What will you give me?

Guy: These $10 beads.

Girl: Deal.

Situation 2: Girl: Show me your...

Guy: Will do! (Rips off his clothes.)

Let me speak briefly to those of you who believe Mardi Gras is a sexist, obscene event. You're probably right. However, in the defense of the celebration, I must say I don't think it would take place if there were not women who willingly participated. It just wouldn't be quite as exciting if the celebration went like this:

Jim: Hey Bill, show me your chest!

Bill: Wooooo! (Pulls up shirt.)

Jim: Wow, I love Mardi Gras!

Another reason Mardi Gras isn't really sexist is because the women actually have an incredible amount of power over the men. On numerous occasions, I saw hundreds of men worshipping one or two women. The women probably could have gotten the men to do whatever they wanted. Most of the girls only asked for beads, but I am sure they could have gotten the guys to clean their apartments or buy them television sets just as easily.

Another interesting aspect of Mardi Gras is that despite the screaming mobs of half-naked people carrying alcoholic beverages, the police simply watch in amusement. Just about everything appears to be legal at Mardi Gras with the exception of anything moral and going to the bathroom on the sidewalks. I read that 90 percent of the arrests during Mardi Gras are for public urination.

Apparently public nudity, sexual harassment, public drunkenness, underage drinking, underage gambling and violence are all legal and often encouraged, but urinating on an already revolting, trash-covered, cracked sidewalk warrants immediate arrest. It's good to know the New Orleans police are making themselves useful.

Nonetheless, I highly recommend Mardi Gras to anyone looking for a good time. Just remember to set fire to any of your friends' 'N Sync albums before embarking on the trip.


Latest Podcast

Today, we sit down with both the president and treasurer of the Virginia women's club basketball team to discuss everything from making free throws to recent increased viewership in women's basketball.