Mardi Gras ball.jpg

ILLUSTRATION BY WALT HANDELSMAN

Mardi Gras balls are undeniably exciting and full of much potential for the things we all like best — overindulgence, escapism, perfect envy-inducing Instagrams.

They are fun, as are most things that encourage lots of Champagne and where every table has a king cake or 12. And who doesn’t love a glorified wedding cover band, right? Any excuse to get a blowout and use the tips I’ve gathered from binging on YouTube beauty tutorials is quite alright by me.

Alas, there is one major flaw with our Mardi Gras balls.

In the boring sameness of everyday life down here, where I was once called fancy because I wore black pants instead of jeans on a Friday night, I embrace the opportunity offered by an alleged ball to really dress up and be, as the kids say, a bit “extra” now and again.

It’s just, if we’re being honest, I start to feel less than fabulous when, after hours of glamming and sliding myself into what can only be described as medieval shapewear, hunted down a formal gown that makes me look curvaceous but not constricted, I enter the ball gloriously with my entourage — dragging a Yeti cooler and reusable grocery bags of chips and dip with us, as if to say, “We have arrived, but also, we like snacks.”

It seems that, at times, our balls are more "Formal Tailgate" than "Black Tie."

I’m sure there are fancy folks who have someone else to drag their ice chests of beer and booze to their tables. And I imagine the well-heeled gentry of moneyed balls don’t bring their own ice chests at all.

But I’m not a Vanderbilt or a Rockefeller, and when I hear “deb” I think snack cake, not debutante. So, I have to carry mine in myself. It is literally the most humbling experience of all Mardi Gras, schlepping your Jack Daniels and a sandwich tray to your table in all of your finery and fake eyelashes.

Yes, nothing says “elegance” like drinking a cocktail of vodka and pulp-free orange juice out of a Styrofoam cup that proclaims, “Pour Me Something, Mister,” except, perhaps, if your date has his beer in a dressy camouflage koozie.


Christina Stephens is a Baton Rouge native who tweets often, usually about LSU, her dog and South Louisiana. Follow her on Twitter, @CEStephens.