Monday, April 25, 2011

Festivus for...

the rest of us. Or anyone that doesn't have family to go eat ham and deviled eggs with. Or for anyone that does have family to eat the sweet spring delicacies with, but would rather not. Or for people that forget that it is Easter. Or for people that don't give a shit that is Easter, but love living in NOLA. Or for Jews. That like strippers. And drag queens.

That's what Easter is to me now. Old strippers and drag queens. And booze.

So I know most people have heard of 'festivus' and have gotten a little chuckle over it at some point or another. But until you actually have to make a up a tradition so your family can feel like they are part of society, you don't really understand festivus. That's right. Until you have actually eaten Chinese food on Christmas, or gone out of your way on Easter to make it a point that you too have somewhere to be, you don't get festivus. Now don't get me wrong. I don't need a pity party. I very much enjoy my religion. I feel like it associates me with witty people that appreciate life. All of our jokes and prayers end with "lets eat" or at least "Thank you god for [insert food, wine, candles, special food, wine on Friday night, etc], lets eat." But, a few days a year, I kind of feel like I don't get whatever I am suppose to be getting. Like there is a large, overwhelming, over eating inducing happiness that I am just not plugged into. Or at least I use to feel like that. Until my family started making up our own traditions. I need to go ahead and define what I mean by 'traditions.' Our traditions center around high carb, high fat food and enough booze to keep a fraternity happy during prohibition. I guess a lot of people's family get togethers are similar, but I am trying to explain that if you are making up a tradition ('first annual...'), it has got to be good enough that you will want to repeat it on your own (without being prompted by Hallmark, the candy companies, or the prospect of a fat man squeezing into your chimney).

For as long as I can remember, we have had a Christmas tradition. We have gumbo on Christmas Eve (no ersters in mine, please) and grillades and grits on Christmas morning. We then unwrap our gifts and then sit around in our pajamas rubbing our stomachs like Alec Baldwin in The Cat and the Hat. OK- not really like that. That was just about the grossest image of lethargic humanity that I could conjure.

If you need a visual representation. (Be sure to watch it until the end because there is nothing better than Alec Baldwin digging in his belly button).

So this is what my family is like on Christmas. Except we are sitting around a Christmas tree. A really nice one. Actually, probably one of the nicest Christmas
trees any President of the Sisterhood has ever owned.
What can I say? We are Jews that like to decorate...
So growing up, I always felt like I belonged to something larger during Christmas time. Oh I'm sorry. Winter break. Holiday time. Whatever. But it took a few years (or 22 to be exact) for my family to figure out what to do with ourselves on the day that he is rising (spooookkkky if you ask me).
The first annual Labens celebrate Easter in New Orleans occurred in Spring of 2006. My parents were in town and we read that there were a few parades happening around town on Easter. That's right. More than one parade. Just for Easter. God- I love this city.
Anyway, my family made our first and only mistake when choosing which Easter parade to attend. We went to the one on St. Charles. For those of you who are not familiar, let me break down your choices:
  • Old ninnies ride carriages in nice suits and hats down St. Charles and then make a U-turn and ride the other way down St. Charles.
  •  The oldest, most mummified stripper ties herself to a float and invites some mummified friends and they put on hats and throw recycled beads and stale candy to French Quarter onlookers
  • Drag Queens put on their absolute Easter finest and hop into carriages and treat crowds to their spectacularness and throw some beads and plastic ehgs. (That's eggs in New Orleans tongue).

Here comes the p-rade!
Now, if a crowd of fun loving people had to choose, 9 times out of 10 of them would choose one of the second two options. And the only reason the 10th person didn't choose it is because they were too drunk after watching the ninnies roll up and down the Avenue that they couldn't remember what they were suppose to be choosing anyway. But back in 2006, we were a fun loving family, we just made an Easter tradition mistake and went to the Avenue fancy pants parade. I also invited all of my other friends that I knew wouldn't have anything to do: Leora Rockowitz, Michael Pinsky, and Cristiana Lupulescu. So to sum it up: Jew, Jew, and Greek Orthodox (and their version of Easter has nothing to do with hat finery and peanut butter cups made to resemble small eggs). We gathered together, brought our lawn chairs, and sat there on St. Charles. The first time the parade passed us was just about one of the most awkward things I had experienced. It was basically just us on the street corner waving to all of these women (and the disgruntled rabbit that led the procession). The only thing that was more awkward than the first passing of the sacredly fancy was the second passing of the sacredly fancy. After the carriages mosied by us, we scooted our chairs right across the neutral ground and caught them again. Like these people wouldn't realize they just threw us half of their shit. Also, like these people cared that they already threw to us- because they didn't have many other options. (Please note the wide open neutral ground behind us).

So- here we are, waiting like bumps on a Easter log (like a Christmas log, but Easter like.... no? doesnt work?), and the parade comes back down the street. During their second lap, we worked up the courage to ask for a photo op with the mascot bunny that led the way. We ran out into the street- stopped the bunny and posed with him. My dad held up the camera, counted in a silly like manner, and tried to take the picture. It didn't quite work. So he shouted out 'one more' at which point, Mr. Peter Asshat mumbled profanity loud enough that it made its way straight out of that fluffy layer of mascot face quicker than you can say "cussin bunny." So the three Jews and the Greek Orthodox giggled there in the middle of the street while my dad fumbled with the camera and the bunny said something along the lines of "mother fucker doesn't even know how to work the fucking camera." My guess is his crackhead girlfriend played "hide the carrot" with him before his tough day at work and he couldn't quite reach far enough to remove the carrot from his rabbit ass. Needless to say, I have searched high and low and cannot find the picture. So- the bunny might have been somewhat right that my dad wasn't quite sure how to function the camera, but still....

Easter loot!!!
While it was quite a memorable Easter, my family decided the second annual Labens family Easter in NOLA would be done a bit differently. We did our research and made our decision with the fun part of our brain and went downtown to the French Quarter to catch the stripper's and then the drag queen's parade. And we have never gone back to that profane mascot ninny parade again. Nevvverrrrr. Motherfucker.

    Monday, April 11, 2011

    Y'all.... I gotta get out of this group

    Now this is one of my favorite stories that I like to tell repeatedly to the same people (well only because I only have so many people in my life. And divide that number by at least two to determine how many of those people will listen to my stories again and again). I also assume that the people that were there to witness it also tell it every now and then. But they probably tell it at a party when people start telling stories about their weird ass friends. That's when my friends tell it....

    When I was a freshman in college, a new website was invented called facebook. I am sure we have all seen the movie and know all about the Winkelvoss twins (who aren't that good looking in real life), but people my age were the exact market facebook was first introduced to. My sophomore year, facebook was opened to Tulane. And by junior year, most of the school checked it at least once a day. So- my friends and I were the first people to experience writing on each other's "wall," posting pictures of each other, and of course.... joining groups.

    Well back when groups were just groups (and not free advertising for businesses or ways to communicate with specific crowds and whatnot), there were some pretty funny groups out there. In fact, my dear friend KTO created a group about the movie Wedding Crashers. It was instantly joined by hundreds of other Tulane kids. Ahmazing.

    So during the first year of my addiction to facebook, I was living in an off campus apartment that was a lovely little three bedroom. And like most apartments in New Orleans, it was raised about three or four feet off the ground. Also like most other apartments in New Orleans, its neighborhood had its fair share of cats (feral, domestic, and whatnot). Well at some point that year, my apartment became the shelter that was kitty version of The Boot. And apparently any hour after dark was happy hour. Cats from all over the damn city started to meet and mingle under my happy little abode. They would hang out, have a few drinks, probably make out to some really horrible early 90s rap song (which is not a slow make out song and no one else is dancing slow to so they really just look dumb right there in the middle of the furiously dancing crowd but hey... whos judging), and then they would get down to business. Cat business. Right there. Under my apartment.

    I assume you are saying "so what" right about now. That is- if you are even still reading. Because really- who wants to read about cat sex? WELLLLLL.......... everyone- or at least thats what I thought. When I started the group.

    So- in case you have never heard two cats do it- it is absolutely horrible. It sounds like a ghost being tortured with poker sticks that someone is shoving through their ghost stomach and twisting. It is a horrible horrible noise. And you know in the cartoons, when a cat is sitting on a fence, and meowing or whatever, and someone throws a shoe or an opened sardine can or something at them. Yeah- well that cat was probably not singing in real life. The animator probably lived in New Orleans. In my neighborhood.

    So anyway this cat BS goes on for a while under my apartment. And I am up late one night- "studying" (surfing the net) when I hear it. And I get a flash of genius and decide to start my very first facebook group "No more kitty love under my house." I grin. I invite my two roommates. And I go to bed.

    The next morning I get up and excitedly check my new group. One member. Moi. Well- that's OK. I am sure my roommates (BEST FRIENDS) were not on facebook last night. I go about my day. Check it again. Still one member. This goes on for a while (how long- I can't exactly remember, but the fact that it went on for at least 24 hours is not OK). I think it has finally hit me after a day and a half that this group is totally UNACCEPTABLE. This is not OK. This is not what the Winkelvoss twins and that rutheless bastard Mark Zuckerburg had in mind when they created facebook. They did not want to know about cat sex. Ever. Never. Ever. Ever. And while my roommates and I could discuss it in private, that haunting haunting eerie love making, we were not to display it proudly on the most visible place possible- facebook. Well there I am. In my room. By myself (just like the group). And the epiphony rushes into my brain like a whiff of cat nip. Y'all... I gotta get out of this group.

    I immediately unjoin. Delete. Shudder.

    I don't think I brought it up with my two BEST FRIENDS immediately. But I certainly had a realization that day. They wouldn't let me walk around with some broccoli in between my teeth. Or with some ambiguous stain on my pants. They would tell me. But the minute I tried to bring them to my level and shove that leafy green in their pearly whites. Nope. It was not happening. I was stuck to flail completely and totally alone. Well not totally alone. I am sure the cats would have been there for me.

    Thursday, April 7, 2011

    Opinions are like a-holes....

    And everybody has them. Especially me. And lots of them. And today, on my 27th birthday, I figured my present to everyone can be more Leila. And I am sure you will all thank me tremendously later. And if you don't like what you read, then move on...

    The past weekend I was in Memphis to celebrate my grandparent's 60th wedding anniversary (which is incredible if you think about it. There are few people I would want to make the 6 hour drive to Memphis with, much less talk to every day for 60 years). Anyway, while in Memphis, I discovered a new beverage of choice... gin and juice! Apparently, Snoop Dogg really knew WTF he was talking about. Except I always pictured his juice as the really red tongue staining kind, but the juice I decided to sip on was grapefruit. And mixed with gin- it was DELICIOUS.

    So, last night, to get my birthday celebration started (as it usually last at least 3-4 days), I enjoyed my new libation of choice with a wonderful dinner: french fries fried in goose fat and a chocolate lava cake. This morning, to continue my celebration of another year in adultdom, I had Ben and Jerry's ice cream for breakfast and took a few swigs of Diet Coke straight from the the two liter bottle (sorry Dan!).

    I think I decided... instead of being depressed about getting older, I should appreciate the opportunity that comes with it. For some, that means mortgages, or kids. For me, for right now, that means drankin and eatin whatever I damn please (and then of course working my ass of at the gym to get rid of the guilt... but its all worth it).

    So: Here's to me. My friends. My family. My cat (even though she hates me). My school. My city. My state. And another wonderful year.