Tommy: The gift of the Mardi

Tommy Tucker, WWL First News
March 01, 2019 - 2:11 pm

Twelve dollars and 57 cents. That’s all Rhonda and T-Boo had left open on their credit cards. It was Lundi Gras, and she felt lower than a house built prior to Katrina because she desperately wanted to give T-Boo a gift. Her husband had been speaking of a beautiful, glistening six foot ladder he’d seen in the window of Harry’s Ace Hardware. He’d gone on and on about how much more enjoyable Mardi Gras would be with that ladder. He beamed as he spoke of using it to stake out as much space as he could, standing high atop it to see and catch as much as he could and blocking the view of as many people as possible.

But, alas, they were too poor.  Deep in thought, she prepared the Chisesi’s Ham and leftover Popeye’s biscuit for his breakfast. If only, she prayed, God could help her find her way to buy T-Boo that ladder. Overflowing with generosity she gave him the last piece of king cake. "That might make him a little happier," she mused, conveniently ignoring the fact that it was cream cheese filled king cake while he preferred traditional.

By this time the microwave had gone off and T-Boo’s breakfast was ready. She carefully set the Mardi Gras paper plate on the table and called out to her husband of 8 years.

T-Boo had been doing some thinking of his own as well. As he put on his boots to head off to the refinery, he too realized it was Lundi Gras and how important Mardi Gras was to Rhonda. She’d constantly been complaining about having to get soaked at a parade if it was raining. If only, he thought, there was some way to keep the love of his life dry. The rumbling of any empty stomach can soon snare any one’s attention, and it snapped him back to reality.

Sitting at the breakfast table, they spoke of the beads caught during the weekend and how they were going to divide up the cups they’d caught for wedding presents. The conversation was polite and superficial but with an undercurrent of one deeply longing to do something special for the other.

T-Boo walked to his truck, made sure the blue tarp was pulled tight across the back of his Ford F-150 Platinum edition with the four doors, big mirrors and huge tires. After all, that was the only way he could protect his most coveted possession, an upholstered box that he had planned on putting atop that shiny ladder if he could ever find a way to get it. Sighing, he pulled the last rope tight and got into the cab of that awesome, freaking bad-ass truck. If only, he thought, I could find a way to keep Rhonda’s feet dry.

Back at home, Rhonda turned down Maury so she could gather her thoughts. How, she pondered, could she get T-Boo the ladder of his dreams? She continued to think all day as she prepared her chairs in the bag, making sure that they weren’t put in legs first because that can be a real pain in the ass. Suddenly, she had an idea how she could make Mardi Gras a miracle. But T-Bob had been thinking too.

Exhaused after consuming a case of Dixie , the two fell asleep Lundi Gras evening and were awakend by the strains of “Iko Iko” coming from their neighbors' home. Almost simultaneously they said to the other “come into the front room…I’ve got something for you”.

As excited as somebody at a Muses parade catching a shoe, they bounded into the other room. “Here,” she said, handing the T-Boo the shiny aluminum ladder he’d so coveted. He smiled and then handed his gift to her, a purple gold and green pop-up tent to keep her dry as she sat in the sun or rain at her favorite parade.

There was an awkward silence and then both simultaneously asked "What’s wrong dawlin'?" 

It was T-Bob who went first. "You shouldn’t have done it, but I’m glad you did." That wasn’t enough for Rhonda though. "Why don’t you go get your box to make sure it fits," she insisted. "OR," responded T-Boo, "you can go get your chairs, and we’ll make sure the tent covers them all."  Then a silence filled the room, fuller even than the bathrooms at a Saints home game.

"I can’t do that," said Rhonda. "Neither can I," said T-Boo.

You see, there were no chairs in a bag. She’d sold them to buy the ladder for T-Boo. And there was no box that you put on top of the ladder even if you don’t have any kids. T-Boo had sold it to buy the tent for Rhonda.

The two peered at each other through bittersweet tears and realized they’d given each other the best Mardi Gras gift of all.

A MARDI GRAS DAY OF BEING ABLE TO MOVE ABOUT FREELY WITH OUT HAULING ALL OF THAT CRAP AROUND WITH YOU AND MAKING EVERYBODY BEHIND YOU MISERABLE BECAUSE THEY COULDN’T SEE AND WORRYING ABOUT SOMEBODY STEALING “YOUR” SPOT THAT AIN’T REALLY YOURS TO BEGIN WITH!!

Happy Mardi Gras to all!!

 

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