Thursday, July 21, 2022

Mardi Gras

 

Photo by Ugur Arpaci on Unsplash


Several years ago, pre Covid, my partner Liz and I decided to take a bus tour down from our native Ohio to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. We had done a couple other bus trips in the past so I was ready for the rest room challenges I would face...I thought.  

Very early on I learned  the toilet on the bus would be off limits to all except those in dire need. Which meant the bus would make scheduled stops at certain rest areas. My first learning experience came when I stood in line with approximately twenty other women waiting to use the bathroom. At the time I thought I never signed up for this but the first couple places we stopped were in rural areas, so everything went fine. So, at that time I started to gain confidence that no one on the bus would complain a transgender woman was using the wrong rest room.

On the way down to New Orleans, things began to change. The rest stops turned into truck stops and other stops along state lines in deep southern states. The worst by far came when we stopped on the Mississippi/Alabama line. I was petrified but had to go so I had no choice to join the waiting line of women. Even then, all went fairly well until I was coming out of the stall I used and came face to face with two obviously disapproving women. I tried to speed up the process and get my hands washed and leave the bathroom before I happened to run into those women again. I was so scared I was worried about a state patrolman or local sheriff pulling the bus over for a check. Fortunately nothing like that happened  and the bus rolled on without incident. 

Ironically, the only push back I received from anyone on the bus was when we arrived in New Orleans and stopped to eat at an upscale seafood restaurant. After dinner I excused myself  to use the Ladies Room and when I stepped in the door, one of the other passengers was washing her hands. She looked at me and said with a little surprise "Oh you use the same bathroom we do." She did not refer to the experience again and life on the bus went on until we arrived at our destination. A beautiful restored hotel within walking distance of Bourbon Street and the French Quarter. 

We then took full advantage of the two unplanned days we had to take advantage of the "Big Easy". Also most ot the pressure of using the rest room was  taken away. Until the night of Mardi Gras itself. Since rest rooms were at a premium, venues were requiring a purchase to use theirs. We did make our way through the madness of Bourbon Street to finally learn a couple of the venues we could eat and use the facilities at were just a block off the strip. One turned out to be the oldest gay venue in the city which we stopped at and the other a tavern which served food which had a patio style courtyard  where we could eat. 

Before it was time to turn around and go back, I decided to use what could only be described as an out house with a flush toilet. It reeked of sewer gas, so I hurriedly took care of business and started to leave. Of course when I opened the door, a line of women had formed on the other side. I felt bad if they thought I had caused the odor, but it was time to face the long walk back to the hotel. 

As far as the entire Mardi Gras experience went, I wouldn't trade it for the world but it is certainly designed for a younger person than me. It's definitely the party to go to if you are worried about presenting as an out transgender woman. Obviously nearly anything goes. 

Restroom availability and usage are a different story. At some point you are going to have to pull down those big girl panties and go for it. You haven't lived until you have waited in a line of women at a rest room. Mardi Gras or not it is a rite of transgender passage.  

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