Last week I had a rather unique opportunity.  Being on call from work, and hoping to go home after my trip, I had packed a new corset and cute little skirt in anticipation of seeing Hubby but with few other plans of the pieces doing anything but weigh down my bag.  Imagine my surprise, however, when Scheduling sends me to none other than the Big Easy itself the Saturday before Mardi Gras.

My original plan was rather conservative.  We’d land at 2200, and I’d go to bed early in order to catch a parade or two the following morning before I had to report for the day’s flights.  Easy enough, right?  Well, Serendipity thought otherwise.

Enter a second flight crew, who had already been in Party Mode from the night before and looking for more, and a rather restless First Officer who took it upon himself to be our overseer for the night.  Not wanting to be the party pooper of the group, and feeling a bit of a reluctance to miss the experience, I acquiesced, and plans were born.

My first indication of how the night would progress should have come when no one questioned why I’d have a steel boned corset emblazoned with skulls and crossbones with me at work, but it was too late to back out, so I rolled with it.

The adventure started before we even got out of the van.  A few of my compatriots had already started drinking, and there was a brief altercation with the driver over his need to stop for gas and inability to drop us off within three blocks of Bourbon Street, which I was apparently the only one who remembered being told earlier in the day. As we poured from his van, the driver less than politely bid us good night and good luck getting a cab back to the hotel that night.

Shaking off the curse, we went about our night, stopping first at a bar with an excellent cover band playing an amazing variety of music and mixed drinks the size of my face, but not before my corset won me the official title of Crew Boob Flasher and a constantly growing collection of plastic beads.  Once at the bar we promptly forgot about anything but dancing, drinking, and anything regarding personal space as we moved like a drunken, sexed up amoeba through a crowd that had already been drunk for hours.  Quite sadistically, the bar also put the women’s bathroom upstairs, while men didn’t even have to leave the dance floor to find their own door, I’m assuming because they would never use it if it took them too much effort to get to it.  Be that as it may, I was reluctant to scale bead coated stairs in the dark just to maneuver my tights out from under my corset, so I pushed the idea of it from my mind, and we were off once more, slightly more lubricated to deal with the spectacle before us.

I have always wanted to see New Orleans.  I still do, but I have to admit the wave of people that carried us involuntarily from one nonconsentual location to the next, stopping us only for the sporadic picture or request for the questionable fair trade of plastic trinkets for tits,  was definitely an experience.We sang and danced in the middle of the street as our ever vigilant FO kept an eye on his flock, less out of altruism and more out of sheer amusement I assume, until at last we found a quiet block and a very quiet corner bar with real fire and softer music.

As it turns out, we were in a gay bar.  Not your flashy more wild type of Tinder trap, but the quite more sophisticated kind where people actually go to talk to one another. Being the only one with any ties to the queer community, I was chosen as our ambassador and sent ahead of the group to the bar where I became a bit of local drunk gaggle legend as I fended off a very drunk old gentleman who asked to see, then tried to touch, the girls, who had given up on being stuffed back into their confines much more than they had to be.

The quiet peace of the bar was contagious, and though we walked a few more blocks we all knew we were starting to wear out.  This is where the real adventure began, as the curse of the taxi driver from what seemed like days prior began to manifest, and even the hotel stopped answering their phones.

Seeing the panic beginning to spread across the faces of my new friends, I calmly suggested we find food and make a game plan.  Having been stranded in strange cities at less self-sufficient times in my life, I was confident we’d think of something better than sleeping in a gutter covered in beads and ejected body fluids of all kinds.  I wasn’t giving up quite yet, we just needed to sit and regroup.  We hadn’t lost anyone yet, and I refused to start.

We ate and took turns on hold with numerous taxi companies before realizing we were just going to have to suck it up and go on a hunt on foot.  Making our way back to the road we’d been dumped on earlier in the night, we quickly realized  that it hadn’t been an empty threat the wretched man had thrown at us; it had been a fact.  It would take hours to get a ride home.

Having the same realization to the situation I was, and presumably not wanting to deal with five hysterical drunk women, the FO shouted to me to keep everyone in one place and bolted across the street and disappeared for the moment before hailing to us to follow to where he stood by the open door of a silver Toyota Celica with a friendly face behind the wheel who introduced himself as Samin, or Sam for short, who our FO had flagged down and bribed to drive us home.

With the tall man riding shotgun, the four other girls climbed in the back, leaving me as the one who would take up too much space on the seat to lie across the laps of the other girls, careful to keep my head down and my wiggling to a minimum.  After being led astray by his GPS, Sam happily delivered us more or less in tact to the front door of our hotel, where he politely bid us all goodnight and went back on his way.

This job has given me so many opportunities, but I tend to take the quiet adventures over the raucous ones these days.  Nights like y introduction to Mardi Gras remind me of nights Hubby and I used to have all the time, and in the end I only wished he were there with me.  Once more, life has reminded me I’m not stagnant yet.  I just have to let the good times roll as they come to me…and keep an extra $50 in my pocket to bribe myself a ride back to a comfortable bed, as my days of voluntarily sleeping in parking lots and sidewalks has definitely passed.

Not dead yet, friends.  In fact….I’m feeling quite alive.