Some things in life just have to be documented. Sometimes the documentation can wait until a later time, but this needs to be written right this minute. I’m writing this post from a classroom in the Navy ROTC unit at Tulane. I’m here on official business: the annual Mardi Gras drill meet. It is February 09, 2013 and I am in New Orleans on the weekend before Mardi Gras.
We arrived yesterday afternoon. I got my first glimpse of the French Quarter when we rushed down to have dinner. Traffic was ridiculous and people were retarded. People here are so weird. They wear the craziest clothes and say stupid things. They are sort of like Lady Gaga times 1000. Actually, I think I saw a Lady Gaga or two tonight. Anyway, we got a taste of the city and the people.
Today was one of the most memorable days of my life. Wake up was at 0500 but I slept until 0530. We formed up and marched all over the campus to our various events. There is no telling how many times we crossed the campus. We had inspection first. The Drill Instructors made us feel like we looked like garbage, which was to be expected. They quizzed us on our Navy and Marine Corps knowledge while they looked over our weapons and our uniforms. I was beyond nervous. D.I.s are like sharks. If you mess up slightly, it’s like throwing chum in the water. They go crazy and they proceed to rip a new one. It’s like their goal is to reduce you to tears. After that we had Color Guard, the marching portion of drill, and squad drill. The thing I will probably remember most about the marching portion was the fact that the drill deck was worn out and muddy. Our instructor called for a right flank (a movement which requires everyone to turn right at the same time and march as such) right when we were in the biggest patch of mud. A couple of people, myself included, nearly busted our butts because it was so slippery.
The coolest competition is exhibition. That is the fancy rifle throwing stuff that people tend to think drill is. I’ve got to say, it is something awesome to watch a platoon do moves like those with that kind of precision. Texas A&M placed in every event and won the overall competition. They looked amazing when they marched. 16 out of the 21 awards given were awarded to military schools. Virginia Military Institute, Airforce Academy, West Point, Norwich, Texas A&M, USC, and the United States Military Academy were all in attendance. USC went right before us and they weren’t any better than us in the marching portion so it’s good to know we didn’t completely suck.
After the ceremony, the Major turned us loose on the city with a 0200 curfew. There is alot you can do with that much time. First thing we did: nap. We walked to a strip where we found dinner and I got my first taste of the Coldstone Creamery. That place is amazing. I tried Sashimi, but it was positively horrible. Then came the fun part. After a short break back at the unit, we caught the streetcar down to the French Quarter. That’s when I saw how the other half lives.
There were a crazy amount of people. The streets were covered in trash. People were plastered and covered in beads. There was alot of yelling and tons of drinking going on around us. It really was a giant party. We walked along Bourbon Street, observing people and trying to stay together. John bought a fish bowl (a delicious pink drink that hangs from a lanyard on your neck and is literally in a plastic fish bowl with a straw). It took us 35 minutes to walk the portion of Bourbon we felt safe on. So many people. So much yelling and partying. These people know how to throw down!
Now I am back at the unit, typing this. I’m already forgetting things that happened. I know this recap of my evening doesn’t sound fabulous. It really wasn’t. The atmosphere is pretty frikkin cool, but unless you’re 21 you can’t really do much. Underage people are stuck walking the sidewalks and observing the people up on the balconies as they throw people their beads. I may come back when I can buy my own Fish Bowl, but as far as I am concerned, I can mark this off my bucket list.