Mardi Gras Madness
it was a long awaited event. new orleans. mardi gras 2000.
the crew milled off the ship like a mob, eagerly surging into the crowds to experience the talked about party. mardi gras- the wildest party of the year. and we were here!
the norwegian wind was here for just twenty four hours. four in the afternoon until four the next day. and we hadn't had an overnight port in months! i, along with all the rest of the crew, was surfing on excitement, my imagination soaring at the possibilities for the night to follow. little did i know that it would indeed be a night to remember, if not for the expected reasons.
we started right at riverwalk mall. a group of about twenty of us invaded anthony's seafood restaurant, drinks a priority. there was much rejoicing. after i had downed three massive beers and a b52 shot, corn fritters and louisiana popcorn shrimps, we decided to enter the throng.
it was crazy, even long before we reached bourbon street. i was one of the only ones who had been here before, so i lead the way down canal street and up bourbon. the crowd was indescribable, pulsing, pushing, raving and lunatic. i couldn't erase the smile across my face- it was wild, and i was loving it.
we had to stop many times to collect ourselves, and sure enough, before too long our group had been reduced to about ten of us. we made a few stops for more drinks before reaching the nucleus, even spent an hour or so in the famous pat o'briens. it was jammed full.
the night started to run together. i remember many laughs, various girls flaunting their breasts for beads, numerous pictures being taken, and of course mass alcoholism. i borrowed someone's cell phone and called my pal zack in victoria, shouting into the phone about where i was and how drunk i was. all i could hear was his laughing on the other end. i hung up and continued to party. unfortunately, the streets were filthy, and i had made the mistake of wearing only shorts and sandals, so my legs were being coated in slime and muck.
it was getting on towards midnight, and i realised i had to pee like a racehorse. but where?! line-ups at every bar, and i hadn't seen a portapotty in ages. frantically i searched up and down the roads for somewhere to go. my bladder was bursting. my abdominals ached. i raced down one street, up another, my friends waiting at the rendezvous.
line-ups! line-ups! line-ups!! i desperately asked a bouncer if i could go in. i begged. he told me, "no ticket, no entrance." then it looked like my pal brad would save the day- he offered me his ticket from his place in line! i graciously accepted and pushed it toward the grouchy doorman. "ya still gotta wait in line!", pointing to the endless mass of bodies lined against the wall!
despair! agony! my bladder was going to burst for sure! i looked left, looked right. i ran across the road to my friends.
cramming myself into a corner of the building, i decided to do the deed. i unzipped and with a great groan of relief and pleasure i let it flow, hot steaming pee all over the building. i was careful to avoid my feet. but the sensation was like an orgasm! i had been holding it for so long, it never had felt this good before. and i relished the feeling till the very last drop and the shake off.
i zipped up and stood aside. my friend nick took my bravado to heart and followed suit. he stepped up to the same spot and let 'er go. other pals jol and peter covered.
then it was all over for nick. he barely had time to zip up before he was forcefully pushed against the wall and handcuffed! panic, i turned and started to get away, peter pushed me away and jol said "go!". but it was too late. the female officer grabbed me and spun me around. i sheepishly consented to her brutality. but the cuffs were so tight!
holding together my dignity (and revelling in my sense of adventure and unknown excitement) i put on a huge grin as i was marched away. i yelled a goodnight to my friends and let myself be pushed through the crowd. i received some wonderful cheers and thumbs up from the onlookers. apparently my friend peter almost got himself arrested by badmouthing the police for our arrest.
during the walk to the paddywagon, i had a nice little conversation with the female officer. i politely asked her what i had done that was so bad, and asked if she could tell me what was going to happen. she was very mean and upset. i can understand how hard it must be to be a cop during mardi gras, but i thought some of what she said was pretty over the top. she asked where i lived, and then asked me how i would like it if she came to my city, marched over to my house and pissed on my front door. i probably didn't help the situation by saying that if she had to pee real bad i didn't mind where she did it. and then i mentioned that i had only peed on a sidewalk that was presently incredibly filthy with much worse than pee. have any of you seen the streets of new orleans during mardi gras?! then she asked me "don't you know it's illegal to pee on the street in front of a police officer?" i asked her if it would have been ok if she hadn't seen me. i wasn't scoring any points.
truly, though, i must admit i was completely enjoying the whole event. already i had plans to write this story, and i live for craziness and different adventures. and i hadn't ever been arrested for peeing before! at mardi gras no less!
we walked onto one of the streets off of bourbon and arrived at a paddywagon and a few cop cars. i was violently pushed face first up against a wall where the cuffs were removed and i was secured with something even worse- plastic ties. those things are sharp!!! and super tight! she pulled them so tight i was quite surprised, and i gasped. then i had to answer some questions about where i was from and stuff. they took away my cigarettes and lighter, and all of my cool mardi gras beads. that got me a little bummed, because i had taken one of the sets, a string of massive yins and yangs, from my pal krista, on the promise that she could have them back at the end of the night. when i asked if i would get them back, i got a really negative response.
poor nick, the dancer who was busted with me, was pretty upset and scared. they had him smushed up against the wall beside me, were roughly removing all his beads. he looked terrified and looked at me for help. he is only twenty years old, and pretty shy and quiet. i gave him a smile and told him we were going to be ok. i hoped i was right.
i asked how long it would be until we were free. the first officer i asked said about four hours. then i asked a second cop and he said fourteen hours! what?!? generally i was quite unimpressed with the cops. they were unorganized, fat, and that louisiana accent never suggests intelligence to me. sorry if that seems ignorant. but they all seemed a little dull. and i know it's mardi gras, but these cops were full of unnecessary power tripping aggression and violence!
i was thrown headfirst into the paddywagon. it was dark and smelly. there were already two guys in there. i picked myself up off the floor and sat on one of the benches. then nick was thrown in behind me and he got up and sat down beside me. we spent some time collecting ourselves and realising what had happened. the other two guys in there introduced themselves. one was a total ex convict, covered in tattoos and piercings. he was in for getting oral sex in the middle of the street. the other guy was also in for pissing.
we all agreed that the bindings were getting really painful on our wrists. nick, being a flexible dancer, did the trick where you step over your wrists and presto! your hands are in front of you. i was happy for him, but he was scared he would get in trouble for it. i told him not to worry, and asked if he could get his cellphone out!
we managed to get out the phone and dial kip's cell number, but something in the panelling of the van was blocking any transmissions. lame! so we sat there for two and half hours, agonizing over our wrists and sharing stories with the other guys. during that time we got to share the van with four more guys, one for peeing, one for telling a cop where to go, one more for oral sex, and one for fistfighting. it would have been a real party if my wrists didn't hurt so badly.
finally we were moving, heading somewhere in the dark. along the way we stopped twice to pick up a few more bad guys. i wondered how far away the jail was. then it was over. we were herded out of the van and into a large room filled with people and computers and convicts. i was strip searched in front of everyone. then i was pushed against a wall and photographed. finally the painful cuffs were cut off! then it was into a big cold concrete holding cell with everyone else.
we were only there about ten minutes before we were called out one at a time to answer all the same questions we were asked at the time of arrest. that was called prebooking. i wasn't even booked yet! i was allowed to sit in a foamy chair for ten minutes. there was a bank of phones which only allowed collect calls. so i took the opportunity and called zack back to chat. we had a good laugh about the experience. then i called and woke my pal luke up to tell him about it. he was very concerned and i told him not to be- i had only called to hear a familiar voice and share the adventure.
for the next six hours we went through hell. most of the time was spent in a square cell about fifteen feet across. it was really cold and it stunk like sweat and uring and blood. it was stained and dark. it was entirely concrete with concrete benches and one filthy disgusting toilet. we were crammed in with about thirty other men, all tattood and drunk and ornary. a few curses and things were shouted at each other, but nick and i kept to ourselves and i tried to look mean and unconcerned. it was too cold to sleep and the concrete was too hard to be able to sit in one position for more than ten minutes. it was six hours of shifting and waiting.
every now and then a lazy fat deputy would open the cell door and bark out five or six names of people to follow him. they were going to be booked. it was a really necessary step to the process. before nick and i were booked, we wouldn't know when we got out, or how much bail was, or if we could be bailed, or anything at all. it seemed like everyone was getting booked before us, even people who arrived way later in the morning than us. i was starting to allow a bit of nick's nervousness through my shell of confidence. i was beginning to wonder if we would make it back to the ship before it sailed at four that afternoon.
at about four in the morning i witnessed a frightening thing: a young black inmate that had been giving everyone attitude made his way slowly to the cover of the toilet. he asked another black guy near the door to watch out for him. then from his underwear he pulled out a little black case and proceeded to cook some heroin. it stunk as he prepped the syringe and sucked up the stuff. i had a good view but tried not to be obvious. then he injected himself (i think in the thigh), and wobbled back over and crashed onto the concrete bench beside me. i slid over to give him some room. then he pulled his shirt over his head and went to sleep.
finally at about seven thirty we were called out. i got to be treated like scum by a massive fat black lady who wouldn't even smile when i tried to be nice and joke with her. i was nice and respectful but these people are hardened to dealing with criminals. it was an eye-opening event. i was booked with "lewd conduct-urinating". it was a $530 bail! (that's about $775 canadian!) i was told i would stay in jail until i could come up with the bail money. nick was told the same thing. we were given about a half an hour to make calls and figure stuff out.
but we had a major problem: they had taken nick's cell phone, and the phones there could only make collect calls, so we couldn't call cell phones. the only numbers we had were kip's cell and michael's cell. what do we do?! we tried over and over to convince them to let us get nick's phone back, also because he had other numbers stored in the phone. by this time i was starting to get a little desperate. it didn't look very positive. there was no way to get nick's phone. then they put us back in the cell with all the other unfortunates and we were left to contemplate our situation. we started getting a little worried about it. was i going to have to call my mum?!?! noooooooooo!!!!! neverrrrrrrr!!!! i was so frustrated because i had plenty of money in the bank, but my bank cards and credit cards were back on the ship. if only i could get ahold of anyone on the ship, we were ok. but i couldn't call cells!!
the next time the door opened i attacked the guard with our situation. i was quite upset and pushy. he threatened to hit me in the head with his baton and told me to hold on. he returned a minute later and told us that someone was outside trying to sort things out for us. hope!! someone had come to save us!!!
or had they? we spent another two hours in the cell, wondering if the guard had been lying. and the real kick in the teeth was that almost everyone else was gone! we had been there longer than anyone in the jail!
at about eleven thirty they decided to feed us. i could see through the bars that they were setting up a tray with water and bologna sandwiches. i realized how hungry i was! i was starving! so we were lined up outside the cell and got to each take two bologna sandwiches and a paper cup of water, then back into the cell. i gratefully accepted mine and sat down to chow. they had even included mustard!
but i only got one bite before the door was yanked open again, my sandwich was torn away, and i was told i had been released! i was pissed off that i couldn't finish my sandwich! so i followed another guard into another room where i got my id back and a few other little things from my pockets but no cigarettes, no lighter, and no beads. then just a little more waiting and i was pointed to a hallway and my freedom.
i threw open the door to see my savior: none other than the reverend dean barnes! he gave me a hug and a smile and asked me if i was okay. i was shivering cold and felt sick and tired, so he gave me his jacket and sent me outside to get some sun while he sorted out how to get nick out.
i went outside and felt more free than ever before in my life. i had done it- spent a night in jail. in louisiana! during mardi gras! i bummed a cigarette from some woman, and it was one of the best ones of my life!
then nick was out and we made our way back to the ship. along the way a lawyer confronted us and offered to get us back our money for a percentage of the cut. he also said he could drop our charges and excuse us from court the next morning. we accepted his help.
i was back to the ship in time to have a showere before dominic and dean took me out to lunch. then i headed back and crashed out for one of the soundest sleeps ever- eighteen solid hours. i woke up just before ten this morning.
what an experience!!! my wrists are sore and bruised, and my sleep schedule will be messed up for days, but it was all worth it!! another amazing adventure in the wild and crazy life of gord the art director!!!
hope all is well with everyone, and as a final note, no, bubba did not have his way with me!!!!!