Quick disclaimer: All men pictured in this blog post are Certified Bourbon Street Gentlemen, no matter what description they happen to be hanging out by. You can consider them eye candy.
Extra disclaimer: I realize the gender binarism to this post. I write about my experience.
If you frequent the French Quarter for much of your Mardi Gras bead gathering, you can very often spot trouble in its various forms from a mile away. This trouble – also known as Man – can make or break your festive mood. Knowing what to expect and who to avoid is half the battle in your war to be the undisputed Bead Queen of this year’s Mardi Gras. Remember, the idea is to HAVE FUN while gaining every bead your little heart desires and making your friends jealous. When you stop having fun it’s time for a nap, a drink, or a good meal with friends away from the Bourbon Street scene. (MG is not a sprint, it is an endurance race. For more advice on surviving it, try this post next.) Not all men are to be avoided of course – who would we get beads from if we did that? And not all CAN be avoided, but it’s good to be familiar with some of the different types of wildlife out there before you go on safari…
Amateurs: These boys are in over their heads. They thought that just asking (for anything) was going to get them some action. They have some dinky throw beads picked up from the street and are hoping to woo the ladies with them. They don’t understand why no one is interested. They are not about to spend money on serious beads because that would cut into their Huge Ass Beers budget. In fact, they are often identified by the double-fisted beers they are clutching. C’mon – all those Girls Gone Wild tapes watched at the fraternity house make it look so easy to talk women out of their clothes! They truly believe someone will come back to the hotel room they are sharing with 10 other drunken people and have fantastic group sex. (No – I am not interested in hearing any stories from people who swear it really happens all the time to them.) They will go home from this trip remembering very little but making up fantastic stories about all they saw while they were so wasted. They are cute at this stage of development, but sometimes become desperate enough to turn into Coasters, Snatchers, or Grabbers.
Coasters: Also in the “boys” category, and relatively harmless but irritating. They know they aren’t going to get any bead transactions with what they have on, but they don’t mind because they’ve found a better way to score some sights. They are going to share in someone else’s transaction by hanging around with their cameras ready until a Bourbon Street Gentleman makes a deal with someone. The Coasters shamelessly barge in, often startling the lady who is probably already worried about getting arrested for flashing (like deer during shotgun season, Flashers are easily spooked), and quite possibly ruining the transaction for the people it was meant for. Coasters can be easily spotted by the large circles they form around people trying to make a covert bead deal, and lifting their cameras over everyone’s heads in the hopes of a breast sighting. The fortunate thing about Coasters is that they are usually satisfied with this form of entertainment, and are less likely to evolve into something more dangerous.
Cretins: If breasts are the celebrities of Bourbon Street (and many think they are), Cretins are the paparazzi. They refuse to wear the usual Mardi Gras camouflage of beads, beer, and point & shoot digital cameras. They carry large, professional camera equipment including a zoom lens and absolutely no beads whatsoever. They would much rather follow people with good beads, or ladies who are on the hunt for them than do the necessary work themselves. This saves them the embarrassment of having to talk to women, and the possibility of being turned down. Their argument is that anything happening in a public area is fair game to photograph and that is absolutely true. However, it’s bad form to refuse to play the bead-trading game, and no fun at all. Boobie-Economics depends on the social graces of give and take, not just Take.
Snatchers: There are two classes of Mardi Gras Males that really know how to ruin a good time. Unfortunately, both of these groups are often hard to spot until it is too late. Snatchers enjoy hanging out below balconies to demonstrate their incredible jumping and stretching abilities while stealing beads from those they were intended for. They have no interest in the beads themselves, and it’s even more satisfying if the beads break in the process. The only purpose is to ruin someone’s day. Or, to put it into Mardi Gras terms, to pee on someone’s parade. Sometimes it seems as though Snatchers come out of nowhere, but the trained eye can spot trouble by looking for antsy young men who are anxiously scanning the balcony, and do not seem interested in the escapades being flaunted around them. While it is impossible to defend against all Snatchers, a group of loyal Bourbon Street Gentleman can often greatly reduce these occurrences and all smart ladies should keep a few around in case of emergencies. Some Snatchers are also mutations that share common lowlights with the Grabber.
Grabbers: Nothing ruins a good time like a Grabber. There you are, happily making a bead trade, when suddenly a hand comes out of nowhere and helps itself to some skin. Totally unacceptable and legally sexual assault. And sexual assault trumps indecent exposure on the list of Mardi Gras no-no’s any day of the week. These are not negotiated feels; they are from desperate, dangerous and often drunk strangers. Mouths have also been known to show up when least expected. The best defense in this case is a good offense. Another reason to have allies around during a trade, and they should be paying more attention to crowd control than the trade itself. I’ve never been threatened with arrest for batting away hands and shoving faces back two feet with an open palm. And although I wouldn’t ever advise serious violence as a way to solve issues, Grabbers (along with their cousins the Snatchers) are really testing the patience of others with less restraint than I have.
Bait & Switchers: Often suffering from low self-esteem, Bait & Switchers can primarily be found on private balconies, where they know you can’t come up and kick their asses. They typically work in pairs. Two guys with great beads hanging on the railings in front of them. They ignore everyone begging for good beads as they scan the crowd for a hot blonde in the distance (who usually is not interested). These men can be dealt with as individuals – if you can catch their eye and point to what you want there might be a chance – but only if the partner is not paying attention!!! Nine times out of ten, the agreement will be made, the flash will occur, and the B&S #2 will catch the end of the flash, realize what’s going on, and keep B&S #1 from giving away the good beads that you asked for. They will throw you crap beads instead. If a lady’s luck is really bad, a freakin’ Snatcher will come along and steal the crap beads. This is your cue to take a break and get a drink. There are no surefire ways to deal with this type of scummy situation – ya lifts yer shirt and ya takes yer chances, so to speak.
Bourbon Street Gentlemen: Good guys with good beads. Prince Charming in a sea of Shrek. These guys are reasonable and pleasant to deal with, leaving everyone satisfied. They are respectful of the lady and usually only ask to wait until they have their cameras ready. Many will give the beads right up front, and they never bait & switch. Often, if they are approaching someone who refuses, they will give some beads anyway and say “Happy Mardi Gras”. Ladies, these are men we can do business with. In fact, when coaching MG virgins who are interested in Boobie-Economics, we seek them out for a positive experience. Look for the men with stacks of excellent, colorful beads weighing them down. They are often able to stand upright because they are not drinking as much as others in order to appreciate the trading experience. Friends with the Bourbon Street Gentleman should also be wearing similar items and showing similar appreciation, and although it is unnecessary to acquire good beads from each one, it is certainly a bonus. Hallmark of a Bourbon Street Gentleman (and a good bead trade altogether): a sincere “Thank You”.