Mardi Gras is over now, so I’m a little late to help this year. But I’m writing this in hopes that some guy will stumble across it and remember it next year.
There’s a strange thing, founded in a misunderstanding, about Mardi Gras. I’ve noticed it before, but the number of times I heard or saw it yesterday baffled me. Men, saying to women (whom they don’t necessarily know that well) some variation on the following:
Wow, look at those beads! I better not ask where you got them!
If you’re entirely unfamiliar with New Orleans, Bourbon Street has a reputation for debauchery. It’s really only half of Bourbon Street that deserves that reputation, but whatever. Yes, women — and more than a few men — do bare their bodies sometimes in exchange for cheap beads thrown from balconies. But that happens year-round. It happens more anytime there’s a big crowd in New Orleans — Super Bowls, Southern Decadence, Essence/Voodoo/Jazz Fest, Mardi Gras — but it’s a Bourbon Street thing, not a Mardi Gras tradition. Millions of strands of beads are thrown from parades, which are overwhelmingly family-friendly affairs. If you whip out your tits or your dick on St. Charles Avenue or in Mid-City, you’re going to jail. So yes, it’s certainly possible to trade flesh for beads in a certain neighborhood of New Orleans. But please, fellas, think about what you’re insinuating before asking a woman that question.