This past weekend was Mardi Gras in St. Louis. Well. It was Mardi Gras all over the drunk and/or Catholic world, but St. Louis is particularly drunk and Catholic, and also it has the benefit of a French Quarter. Seattle…um isn’t, and doesn’t. Its non-native settlers were white pioneers from Illinois by way of Indiana, and while Wikipedia tells me they were of Irish descent, clearly they weren’t serious about it or my neighborhood would have been a river of vomit on Saturday night.
I mean, come on, Seattle. Like you could ever top St. Louis for drinking. Look at these silly bastards. And these aren’t even terribly unflattering photos. Mardi Gras in St. Louis means drinking until you’re blind and passed out in the street with piss all over yourself, only some of it your own. It means sidestepping piles of vomit before nine in the morning. It means laissez le bon temps rouler, which is French for “we are all total assholes.” Mardi Gras in Seattle means the actual Fat Tuesday, where maybe someone in the office buys donuts.
Which is not to say that Seattle never gets drunk. My neighborhood has the reputation of being an artist and rich hippie enclave, but in recent years, it’s become an outpost of recent college grads who, neighborhood character aside, could be binge drinkers or date rapists at any state school in any community in the country. As it stands, bars that are great on weekdays here (George and the Dragon, Back Room) are intolerable frat parties on weekends, and if you want to go to a bar that doesn’t make you want to hang yourself to escape the memory of that party you regret from sophomore year, you have to go blocks past the rest of the bars and hope that none of those idiots felt adventuresome that night.
I don’t drink like I used to. Not because of some personal decision or trouble, I just don’t feel like it that much. If I’m home for the night, I’ll have water or tea. If I’m out, yeah, I’ll drink then, but three or four beers and I’m tired of the taste as well as the general scene, and catching a bus now before I have to wait an hour for the next one is more appealing to me than paying $20 for a cab.
On New Year’s, I went to Graham’s work with Mike. I hadn’t started drinking yet and was only on my first beer, although I wasn’t really in the mood to be drunk, anyway. I looked around at the crowd – most of which was shithammered two hours before midnight – and thought that everyone looked as though they were forcing themselves to have a good fucking time, goddammit, and I mentioned the silliness and the volume and the roomful of sloppy people to Mike, who has been sober for several years now.
“Is this how you feel in bars all of the time?” I asked.
As a former Catholic/current atheist, I no longer need Lent to tell me when I should cut back on a particular behavior, and while I don’t need dozens of people acting like oversexed, under-coordinated morons to tell me this, either, it’s certainly a more motivating force than a religion where the head guy doesn’t want to be the boss of people anymore.
And because I’ve had enough of Pope jokes on Twitter and can’t even go into the Christopher Dorner thing without feeling sad and exhausted, let me say this: drunk Catholics on my Facebook feed who brag about what they’re giving up for Lent this year are getting donations made in their names to Planned Parenthood.
Suck on that, Former Pope!
(“The Former Popes” has been hereby added to the 2013 Hipster Band Name List and is protected by the Creative Commons License.)