Males of Mardi Gras Field Guide

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”.

Posted in Humor, Mardi Gras, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

FOOD: Easy Dutch Oven Bread


A few years ago I posted a recipe for bread and it was my go-to…but it didn’t always come out that well.  Part was the ingredient ratio, part was getting a good amount of steam while cooking and part was probably not letting the dough rise way beyond what the recipe suggested.  I recently found something similar and easier, and I get a good excuse to bake in my little 2.5 quart dutch oven!  This can also be made in a larger dutch oven; I think most people probably have a 5-6 quart size if they’ve got one at all, but it makes a slightly more oval loaf instead of round.  Great flavor, crusty on the outside and soft on the inside.

Mix with a whisk in a medium-large bowl:

  • 3 c. flour (all purpose, or 1/2 AP and half bread flour)
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 packet dry active yeast

Add warm water – I usually use @1 3/4 cups but you might want to start with 1 1/2 cups and see if you like that consistency.  I like my dough a bit on the wetter side.

Cover tightly with plastic wrap and set somewhere out of the way…FOR HOURS AND HOURS.  Seriously, I usually do this at night before bed and then I can bake bread the next morning, or even leave it until I get home from work the next day. Then:

Turn oven to 450 and put your dutch oven in (including lid) to preheat.

Turn out your dough onto a floured piece of parchment paper, cover with plastic wrap and let sit 30 minutes while the oven warms.  I find it’s easier to put the parchment paper in a bowl about the size of my D.O. and cover with plastic wrap.  Then I don’t have all the dough sticking to the plastic.  After 30 minutes I just lift the paper & dough out of the bowl and pop it in the hot D.O.

Put the lid on and put it in the oven for @35-40 minutes (I do 40, depends on your oven).

At 40 minutes, I took the lid off for another 5 minutes.  The idea is to brown the top, but really, my little loaf was already browned because it filled up the D.O. nicely and touched the lid while baking.  Trial and error.

Done!  Lift paper and bread out and dump bread onto a rack to cool!

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FOOD: Sick day Soup

Have one of those people this week with a questionable stomach who refuses to stop eating all the spicy holiday snacks because they hate bland food?  Try this soup for them, tailoring the broth and protein to what you have on hand.  I used beef broth (okay, boullion cubes) because I had a bit of leftover Christmas Eve steak I chopped – after scraping off all the Montreal steak seasoning I could from it. This recipe makes 2-4 servings, depending on how hungry/daring your sick folk are.

  • 4 cups broth/boullion
  • steak or chicken (optional but SOMEONE must have meat or it doesn’t count as a meal)
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 2 carrots
  • 1/2 onion
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic (more or less, I like more)

Heat 1-2 tablespoons oil (I used peanut) in a big pot; I have one of those big cast iron enameled Dutch oven pots with a lid. Looks like the fancy expensive brand but it’s not.  Works just the same, imagine that!

Chop the onion well (I used sweet yellow) and saute it in the hot oil for a few minutes, reducing it and doing some caramelization. Just before you think you’re done, throw in the garlic.  If you don’t keep a jar of minced garlic in your house at all times, I don’t think we can be friends.

Do not let the garlic burn! Just stir it around a minute and then add the broth and the rice. Stir, and add protein if you are putting any in. Turn the heat down to a simmer.   I let that simmer for probably 45-60 minutes tonight because I had time, even though it overcooks the rice.  I added chopped celery and carrots for the last half hour. That made them nice and hot but still a little crunchy.

By the time we were ready to eat, the rice was mushy (which I think is a good thing for an upset stomach) the veggies still had crunch and it all had a good flavor without anything super spicy and potentially irritating like cumin or pepper. It was a thick soup because of the rice but if you want a soupier soup you could always add more liquid while cooking.

All in all, it was a non-irritating soup for the stomach and tasted good enough for healthy people to enjoy. It got the seal of approval from Nauseous McCrankypants which is a rare and wonderful thing so I thought I’d better write this down so I remember what worked!

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Rage Against the Holiday Gift Exchange

A newish co-worker leaned over yesterday in a meeting and quietly asked a question about the gift exchange my division does at the holiday party.  “I don’t play that game, I hate it,” I told him – perhaps a bit too bluntly because he looked at me like he had made a mistake or perhaps like I eat kittens for breakfast.  Some explanation was in order.

I don’t care for gift exchange games.  Nobody’s on the same page about what kind of gift to bring, everyone argues over the rules of the game, and there are always people disappointed by the outcome.   I know, it’s just a GAME and it’s meant to be fun and not taken seriously.  I don’t find it funny when I spend money on a gift and bring home crap that’s going straight to Goodwill.  Or when I pick something nice and my friendly co-worker steals it from me.  Someone recently told me a story about a gift exchange where she unwrapped an empty box, and everyone laughed and laughed like it was the funniest thing ever.  That sucks.


I wish people could just get their gift exchange shit together, and not treat this as an opportunity to unload junk you have been too lazy to donate.  As a fan of de-cluttering, this is one of those activities it’s easy for me to back away from.  Yes, I’m the one person sitting among 40 or so not playing, but I am snacking and visiting with co-workers just the same and having a fine morning NOT getting angry that my gift has been stolen for the third time and now the only thing left for me is the VHS tape of George of the Jungle that reappears every year.

A “White elephant” is defined as a possession that is useless or troublesome.  Why don’t we stop encouraging that and have GOOD gift exchanges?  Come on – you see what the coveted gifts are every year.  Why are we not all bringing those things and everybody goes home happy?  How about don’t shop at Spencer’s for a gift?  How about not having a full page of rules and instructions on how to play?  How about just bringing:

  • Chocolate
  • Booze
  • Scratch-off instant lottery tickets
  • Whatever is a coveted food item in your area: a box of Krispy Kreme, a bottle of Frank’s Red Hot sauce, Biscoff cookie butter, etc…

WAIT you say – What about that person who is a recovering alcoholic, has a lot of food allergies and thinks gambling is a sin?  They can swap out their gift for that George of the Jungle tape we’ll be keeping in the back for just such an emergency.  Or that coffee mug filled with generic hard candies wrapped in red and green foil, because I’m sure you need another coffee mug.  Hint: NO ONE NEEDS ANOTHER COFFEE MUG.

Please, please, people who get the unenviable task of putting together their office holiday party, set some gift exchange ground rules to make it suck less.  I know there will always be that one asshole who insists they need to carry on the tradition of passing off that Yanni cassette to some poor celebrant who was hoping for a Godiva bar, and that’s not your fault.  At least you tried and I for one appreciate it.

Posted in holidays, Humor, Life, Student Affairs | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Easy Consent Primer

My Facebook news feed runneth over with opinions and outrage over the recent light sentencing of the Stanford student found guilty on three counts of sexual assault.  I won’t rehash that – You’ve read plenty already I’m sure.  So many things to be angry about here like white privilege,  rape culture, binge drinking, inability to accept blame for one’s actions, consent and what it is or is not.

As someone who works with students in a university setting, all the arguments and excuses that come up during a sexual assault investigation are familiar to me.  I think what makes this crime really dig into my heart is that SO MANY of them are in this case.  This is like a case study to end all case studies when it comes to how certain types of people are able to get out of horrible things and somehow continue to remain completely oblivious to the wreckage they leave in their wake.  Part of my job is to educate the students in my care, and we all know simple can sometimes work best for busy folks with short attention spans.  Therefore, to assist everyone who finds themselves in the same confused and deluded boat, trying to sail away from responsibility on the river of Denial, I bring you a short primer on what to remember when you find yourself on top of a person who is unconscious (BESIDES quickly getting help to make sure they are okay).  Feel free to use as necessary.


Posted in college, Life, Residence Life, Student Affairs | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

24 Things Women Over 30 Should Wear

This morning, as I was perusing  my Facebook timeline, I happened upon an article that a lovely friend shared. It was entitled “24 Things Women Should Stop Wearing After Age 30”, a…

Source: 24 Things Women Over 30 Should Wear

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Me and Moses and Losing My Religion

Happy Easter!   

 Our only Easter tradition these days seems to be watching all the hours of The Ten Commandments (The REAL version with Charlton and Yul) and buying a pile of chocolate for ourselves.  We’re even a holiday behind this year, with corned beef and cabbage in the crockpot.  Maybe we’ll do ham for Cinco de Mayo and have margaritas for The Fourth of July.

Easter always gets me thinking seriously about my religion (or lack thereof) in a way Christmas never does.  Must be the torture and death.  I’m such a bad Catholic now that someone had to remind me what Good Friday was all about.  And thank goodness for that infogram on facebook breaking down the horrors to specific hours.  I know, I know…  But looking from the outside in, Good Friday seems like a really poor choice of titles for the day. I haven’t been to a church service in years that wasn’t tied to a wedding or a funeral.  I don’t consider myself a Catholic anymore, although I was raised that and went through Confirmation and all. Cecelia is the saint name I chose, for those that are curious. Today, I consider myself a human being who tries to be as good as she is able on any given day.  That’s not a religion, that’s just not being a dick.  I’m okay with that.  If we have a higher being I feel they will be okay with that as well.

Organized religion just stopped making sense to me and no one could give me answers that seemed right. It probably happens to most people and then they somehow reconcile and put away thier doubts.  That’s faith?  When something doesn’t make sense but you’re going to believe in it anyway?  Yeah…no.  I couldn’t do it.  It never seemed right that somehow I happened to be part of the “real” religion and everyone else was mistaken and doomed.  I lasted until shortly after confirmation when I finally said this religion stuff was bullshit.  I probably said exactly that, I don’t recall.  But I know what the last straw was, the last stupid little thing that make me think people were totally lying to me about how serious all these rules were that I was brought up with and was supposed to be terrified to go against.   

St. Patrick’s Day on a Friday was all it took.

Buffalo has a pretty big Irish population and apparently there was consternation over not being able to eat corned beef on St. Patrick’s day since it was a Friday during Lent.  The Cardinal over the Buffalo area then gave Special Dispensation to eat corned beef that Friday that year.  I went WHAAAT………..?  Suddenly, all these rules of what you could and could not do to avoid going to Hell got pretty hazy. I was out.  I didn’t make a big stink about it but slowly I withdrew from “churchy things” and once I was in college I only went to mass on major holidays to make my mother happy.

I may not be part of a religion on purpose now, but I can’t exactly remove everything I was raised with.  It’s just a bit different these days.  I do believe there was a man named Jesus.  I have a feeling that some stories in the Bible are loosely based on true events and others are completely fabricated to suit the needs of important men. I think Mary Magdalene was far more important than we have been told and might have been Jesus’ wife.  There’s so much we don’t know about that people just have faith in but that’s never been me. 

I just try not to be an asshole.  


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