A blur of colors swirled before me, almost as if Walt Disney had vomited in my lens.
“You begged for this,” I muttered to myself.
It was barely 7am. We were two hours from home, and a liquored up Cajun was standing on his head, on horseback.
It’s a tradition in our newsroom to send a virgin to Mardi Gras in Mamou for the annual chicken run. This year that honor fell upon our capitol correspondent, Kevin Frey — a bespectacled whiz kid when it comes to the ins and outs of the latest budget mishap or the hot-button policy faux pas, and a complete neophyte to all things southern. How could I pass up something a rife with comic potential as that?
The fiddler struck up another tune while masked marchers cavorted about — beers in hand — bleating something about a poulet. And we were off.
Horses clopped through town like we were at the O-K Coral, but in stead of pistols, these cowboys double-fisted Bud Light. It’s a tradition passed down from father to son since before Cajuns were Cajun.
And at every house along the way, the stop and beg for food to throw in the gumbo pot when the ride back into town. But before they can have a chicken, they have to dance.
I kept my face buried in my lens. There’s too much to shoot. And so much to miss. But I kept an eye peeled for Kevin, too. The bewildered look on his face told me the costumes, the music, the dancing may have been more than he could process.
Behind the lens, it was just another muddy Mardi Gras, and my 53-year-old ass was straining to keep up.
Six chickens later, our story was shot. It was time to hit the road.
A wave of nausea swept over me as I powered up the laptop. We’ve all double-punched a money shot, or watched our batteries die in the middle of the best sound. That’s baby shit compared to what I witnessed — in painfully slow technicolor.
The tiny SD card which held all of the morning’s glory slipped from my fingers and deposited itself between the car seat and the center console.
“No problem,” you say, “simply reach under the seat and drag it out.” And that is exactly what I tried.
The card was no where to be found.
Apparently, there is a hole in the carpet, near where the seat bracket attaches itself to the car chassis. And that hole is just big enough for an SD card to fall through. Then slide itself past the heating vent under the seat and stop somewhere inside the body of the car.
What followed was a series of mutterings that even the French-speaking contingency could understand, followed by this string of text messages between Kevin and the Assignment Desk.
Was it possible that we had come all this way, shot all this gold, only to have it slip through our fingers?
Kevin paced back and forth while I formulated a plan.
Some borrowed tools, and 45 minutes of body-twisting a Bourbon Street stripper would envy, and we were back in business. Most importantly, the story made slot.
It’s a tradition, I hope never catches on.