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Mardi Gras heats up considerably. Mac, Armor’s, Tyger and Sandy prepare
for the Tucks Parade at Mr. Milty’s House of Horrors and Pain. Milty’s
girlfriend Victoria and cat Blubber are confronted. Larry Bud Melman’s
appearance at the Tucks Parade is a big bummer. Other parades
are attended and explained. Many Carnival related events and freakouts take place.
The chapter ends with Tyger making final preparations for Fat Tuesday.
“In a House,in a Square, in a Quadrant”
A fine day for a parade, and what day isn’t, as the sun
rises as an optical illusion in the west if one stands Uptown on
the snake curve crescent riverbend. That is a trick trivia
question for tourists to ponder.
Pre-parade preparations have begun in earnest at Mr. Milty’s
Magazine Street upper loft. Mr . Milty — the artist, himself —
is strewn among the hanging awful face paintings, scattered audio
cassettes, and papers. Tyger, Sandy Alexander, and big Mac enter stage left.
Blubber, the always irascible and sometimes highly toxic
orange tomcat who responds only to Mr. Milty’s touch, and then
just if it strikes his feline fancy, also “greets” the boys.
Blubber’s favorite tactic is to pretend to be friendly as he
cuddles up to some unsuspecting stranger. Then, the cuckold
boom, screech, ouch, clawing paws strike, scratching the shit out of that
sucker’s arm. Mr. Milty greatly enjoys this recurring nightmare.
“I think he must train the beast to act that way,” Sandy sotto voce
mentions to Tyger as they enter. “I hate that cat.”
Victoria, one of Mr. Milty’s interchangeable girlfriend
parts, has been showering. Naked, she at the precise moment Armor’s enters the
apartment, opens the bathroom door. A look of shock
then, as the tall thin blonde immediately slams the door.
“Is it something I said?” Armor’s mock seriously asks.
Mr. Milty, too, finds this amusing, cracking a smile soleil.
“Hey what is the matter girl? Put on some clothes. We have company.”
“Milton. Ahhh … ” returns the voice of exquisite exasperation.
Her sexy lithe body wrapped in a small towel darts from the
bathroom a nanosecond later escaping into the bedroom followed by
another slamming door. Blubber scurries for cover.
“I hate you Milton,” her voice trails.
“Relax darling,” he coo coos. “We’re going to the Tucks Parade,”
turning to Sandy. “She is a bit high strung. I’m breaking her in gradually.
Believe she’ll come around by Jazz Fest.”
Blubber leads a procession to the kitchen where Mr. Milty
busies himself making Bloody Mary drinks for the crowd. Armor’s
and Mac fool around with a pair of African drums hanging around
near a half destroyed cloth covered couch.
Boom boom boom boom, embarking on a quickie jam session.
Sandy and Tyger find a couple of chairs in which to plop,
tapping the sides in polite accompaniment.
A pitcher of tomato red Bloody Mary’s emerges from the
kitchen followed by Mr. Milty and Blubber. Each participant has
an old Mardi Gras cup from past parades.
Tyger with Baachus; Sandy and Armor’s, Endymion;
Mac has what is that? Nephartiti? Do what?
“Where did you get this thing?” Mac asks.
Mr. Milty looks hard. “Must have been a truck parade.”
“Nephartiti,” Armor’s guffaws, accent on the last syllable.
“Gimme that next.” A loud slurping sound rises from the floor
where Tyger places his cup. “What the fuck,” Tyger says with startled
agitation, noticing the orange flaked culprit, He waves his hand to shoo
away you know who jumping in sly recognition followed
by a loud. hiss. “That damn Blubber. He was in my Bloody Mary,
man, I want another.” Such fun to be had at Mr. Milty’s house.
He enjoys this, obviously, mock asking crouching Tyger,
“What? You gonna let a few cat hairs spoil a great drink?
Come on, Tygs, you can handle it.”
“No, I can’t. Excuse me. I’d like another.”
“No way haha,” Mr. Milty says going to the kitchen as Blubber starts
purring. Yeah, sure, Blubs. Er, way, please. Ever the gracious host,
despite the bluster, Mr. Milty resuscitates another morning potion as Blubber
sidles up to Sandy who rudely pushes him away. “I’m not going to
fall for that one, assshole,” says the Sandman as Blubber
skulks in a what have I done mannerism.
“Miiiilton,” implores a whining voice from behind the
bedroom door. “Please come in here.”
“In a moment girl. Can’t you hear we’re partying.” Boom boom boom…
Mac and Armor’s jamming accelerates. Mr. Milty moves over
to the audio cabinet, flicking on a four-track tape recorder.
The man of a thousand (scary) faces picks up a large conga
drum, joining the jam. This continues for a few minutes. A
three-man main roller derby type jam while Sandy and Tyger take forks,
lightly tapping bottles for bad company.
“Ahhhhhhh!” Mac yells as he concludes a final beat then
raises both arms skyward with a bongomania flourish. “Alright,
man,” Mr. Milty says approaching and about to flick off the tape
deck. He pauses for a moment. A little girl’s voice now pleads
from behind the closed door: “Milton. P-uhh-lease come in here this instant.”
He dramatically flicks off the tape recorder.
“lt’s a take,” he says. “Coming dear.” He turns to the gang.
“Excuse me for a moment. Got to take care of risky business.”
Muffled voices emanate from the bedroom as the group
finishes off cocktails. There is the usual milling about waiting
for Mr. Milty to emerge so they can head down to the Polish Dog stand.
Finally, Mr. Milty sees the light of day. “Otay. Everything’s cool. Let’s scram.”
Victoria follows dressed in a tasteful white blouse and blue jeans.
“You boys have a good time. Milton. I’ll talk to you later.”
“See you gal,” Mr. Milty says, kissing Victoria square flat on
those baby apple red cheeks.
“Come on guys. Let’s disappear before she changes her mind,”
Mr . Milty’s residence is a few blocks past the parade
staging crowds. “Thank goodness we got past the gridlock,” notes
Armor’s, who lives a block away from Camp and Prytania Streets.
“You can be stuck there for hours.”
The hardy quintette load into Mac’s maroon minivan and
follow lower Magazine Street to Polish Dog paradise. It’s still there.
The usual salutations and purchases. Mac and Armor’s obtain
snap-and-pop ammunition from a nearby vendor, then proceed on
undercover search and explode missions. Pop pops popping at each
other’s toes and at unsuspecting neighboring spectators.
Venus, that lame old women’s parade, is about to make it
down the Avenue. First floats the NOPSI truck making sure the
overhead streetcar wires are clear .
The Krewe of Krowd Kontrol’s KKK signature float follows as
it must. Cops are encased in a two-decker glass window drinking coffee,
eating donuts and, oh by the way, monitoring communications
“Krewe of Krowd Kontrol,” yells Mac as he tosses the minifirecrackers
at the glass laughing hysterically as one explodes, shocking a female cop.
But, she gets it, and laughs good-naturedly.
Aw man, I hate this parade,” Tyger says. “Those old
bitches can’t throw anything right. You have to stand
right up on the curb to catch anything besides a cold.
Venus maskers, therefore, negate some of the Mardi Gras sport
of making that Say Hey Willie Mays catch of a hard throw as the crowd
oohs and ahhs with “Nice catch. How do they do it? Hey-ho!” and so forth.
Sandy cranes his neck searching fo the swimming panoply of floats.
“I hear Larry Bud Melman is going to be king of Tucks,” he informs
the masses, “That should be outrageous as always.”
Temps have risen to a pleasant 65 degrees. Crowds are the largest yet of the season.
The usual mixture of humanity and humidity stand along the avenue participating
in various stages of celebration, depending on Mardi Gras experience, party origins, and belief.
Mr. Milty has brought along a thermos of Blood Mary’s from which he pours a stiff drinky poo.
Everybody waits for the usual unusual bead riot behavior to begin.
A short gap gasps between the initial pre-floats and Venus Parade.
Potential spectators crane said necks, trying to peer past Lee Circle, which,
of course, is impossible. Carnival sounds
drift along, warning of the coming procession.
“What is that?” Sandy asks. “Theme from ‘Flashdance?'”
“Oh boy,” Tyger replies. “For the one millionth time. Flash-shaft.”
“Hey, the theme from ‘Shaft,·” notes Sandy, “would be a lot better. ”
It’s either “Flashdance” disco, military moron
music or similarly insipid pop rap flash tarts. Must be against
the law to play something good during a Carnival parade.
(Funny thing, worse the song, more excitedly responds
the crowd. Yet another reflection on Carnival culture.)
Venus goes, Venus blows; dukes, maids and flower
painted floats. Throws, as predicted, are lame. Tyger yells at one
grand dame, “Come on . Let’ s see your arm. How far can you
throw it up. Hey babe, throw it up’ ”
Mac and Armor ‘s run up to floats in order to bombard them broadside.
A number of successful snap-and-pop-mom missions ensue .
Sandy calmly smokes a cigarette a few feet back with other non-combatants.
Couple of cops stand with their arms folded, appearing bored
as they survey the crowd for the billionth time.
Float inevitably follows float. Marching band follows marching band
high-stepping along until they merge into one long vision of
Carnivals past, Carnival presented, and Carnivals yet to come.
The final fire truck following the long 23-float parade is
in turn stalked by the NOPSI truck. The crowd disperses rapidly.
“Who sounded the fire alarm?” Tyger asks. “Where are they
all going? The best is yet to come.”
Mac and Sandy walk across the street to the Seaman’s Lounge.
It is a hangout for semi-derelicts and their fellow travelers
most of the year, becoming a more cosmopolitan venue catering
to the Mardi Gras walk-in trade during Al Johnson Carnival time.
The boys eject themselves from the vaguely stinking of piss
building, returning to the sacred spot with an armful of beers
which they pass all around. A party wouldn’t be a party without
Armor’s grabbing a beer, shouting, “Let the good times roll.”
Indeed. Time for Tucks about 20 minutes later than usual
this year. College students first formed Tucks in the 1950’s as a
smaller satirical expression. It has become the unusual usual 25
float extravaganza. Dukes, and other royalty, flash by on lettered mini-floats.
As do some daring lady’s tits. “Hey Duke. Hey Duke. Throw me
something mister,” Mac shouts before exploding a final
snap-and-pop spontaneous commentary. The crowd merges as one with
the celebration at hand.
A group of Jefferson Parish deputies on horseback trudge by
nonchalantly handing out silver doubloons and prized long glass
beads. Cars containing Tucks officials follow.
Then, the always popular shriners dressed in motley driving
funny cars. Armor’s belabors the obvious.
“You clowns, ” he shouts. “Get a real job.”
WYLD boom-box truck spews out “Love ya
baby. Love ya baby,” as it graces the scene.
Fatass tourists and stupid college
students dance disJointedly along with the commercial beat.
“I just can’t understand how anyone listens to that shit,” Sandy says.
Mr. Milty, who has been in absentia for some time, has
apparently left the scene entirely. “Where is that asshole?”
Tyger asks. “He is going to miss Larry Bud Melman.”
Sure enough. Larry Bud’s float zooms around Lee Circle
heading downtown on the traditional parade route.
“Hey hey,” Mac shouts. “I see a celebrity.”
The crowd raises its collective game a notch. Soon,
everyone is shouting, “How is David Letterman?” and the usual,
“Larry Bud. Throw me something.”
The red-faced — comic? –is a lollapalooza alright
crowning the “Tribute to Banana Republics” theme float.
Larry Bud waves awkwardly to the crowd below.
“I hope he doesn’t fall down,” Sandy says. “He could hurt himself.”
“And others too,” Tyger adds.
Everyone is excited as the float approaches the immediate
vicinity of the P.D. stand. It might be, it could be, it…isn’t.
Larry Bud disappears at that precise moment, going inside
the float toilet to take care of personal business. Therefore,
the bucolic alleged comic is nowhere to be seen as his float
passes the gang s immediate vicinity.
This lack of celestial presence greatly displeases the
group. “Hey what is this shit,” Tyger bemoans. “That fucker
doesn’t know who his real audience is.”
“What else is new,” replies Sandy, not truly a Larry Bud fan.
“Get a real job,” Mac yells at the passing float for good
measure. He turns to Armor’s. “I saw a celebrity,” he announces proudly
as Armor’s bombards his feet with mini-explosions.
“Hahaha.” Mac like a bunny hops. “Hahaha. Gotcha, silly
rabbit. Larry Bud Melman sucks.”
And, oh by the way, where is Mr . Milty when you need him?
“He’s going to have to find his own way home I guess,” Mac concludes.
Comrades who have followed Carnival to date, may guess the
rest of this parade. The boys frolic in beautiful sunlight as
float begets fabulous float, high school bands march or rest
depending on exigencies of the moment .
(Perhaps a float has broken down, or just as likely, some
drunken fool has fallen from the sky to ground.)
By the way comrades, this note of passing political
“Hey you commies,” Armor’s yells at one of the shiny red made in Belarus
tractors driven by a bored looking equally shiny red faced
driver. “Don’t you know the revolution is over .”
The party must continue ever onward for that night
brings the first mega-parade, the outrageous Endymion
pronounced End-em-ion,short “e” — with monster floats ridden by
dozens of maskers. The Superdome Endymion Extravaganza perforce
follows that evening.This year the gluttons of bad taste have invited the
fabulous Wayne Newton, all the way from the other sin city,
Las Vegas. Oh joy.
Tyger is definitely no fan of Endymion. He prefers the old line
krewes with their old-timey floats and strict code of silence.
Yeah, they are racist motherfuckers, sure, but that is
part of what Carnival is all about. One might not like it,
but sometimes life sucks.
Tourists frolic blissfully ignorant of local politics. That
is their job as window dressing extras.
The immutable fact that Mardi Gras exists for the social elite to
thumb upper crust noses at curious supplicants below is quite
beyond the limited ken of tourista filters.
Tourists think it’s their prviliged by passport party.
That’s part of their fucking problem.
Tyger is not into the more democratic, but no less
ridiculous, Endymion because he hates huge crowds, among
other reasons. Fortunately, this being N’awlins, the parade is
televised so the stay at home crowd won’t miss any of the
shall we say — excitement
Therefore our intrepid investigator watches the giant floats
cascade like a waterfall down the fabled avenue. Each float is
preceded and trailed by a merciless mega-band.
Crowds are from 10-to-12 persons thick by the Polish Dog Stand.
A throng tens of thousands strong straddles along Canal
Street, which tourist guides tout to be the widest boulevard in
America. This evening, one might as well add, wildest boulevard, too.
Let it pass friends. Let Endymion ride you by. Tyger has
smaller fish to fry. Later that night, the New Neanderthals
perform at a semi-prestigious Tulane students ball. Tyger
outside watches through a glass pane window.
They charge $15 admission. As Heave Broward notes, “I really
wish we could get you in Tyger, good buddy, but they won’t allow
us to put anyone on the guest list.” Sure, “friend.”
(Heave fears any superior social competition.)
Tyger doesn’t have the entrance fee. Even if he did, who
wants to waste money on something one can usually ignore for free.
Armor’s and Tyger stand about for the first set waiting for
the break to see if any hot babes break stride outside. Of course
they do. Heave Broward follows one stunning co-ed with his
small tail wagging and the usual lame line. You know the drill by now.
“You’re the pettiest girl here,” the simpleton simply
simp. Armor’s shakes his head.
“A walking, talking asshole,” he observes.
That bit of slimy business concluded, the boys night-cap at
Armor’s house. His cats are growing by leaps and bound, which
they execute like Olympic gymnasts over each other.
“I give that flip a 9.5,” Tyger scores, “on a scale of 1-to-7.”
Come 11, Tyger departs for bed, perchance to dream.
Sunday is coming, although the enveloping madness renders
such designations irrelevant. Every day now might as well rhyme with
fun day. From here on out there is no rest for the wicked and
their fellow travelers until Ash Wednesday when all bets are off and they
must repent. Hey babies blue, the party’s just starting.
Funday Sunday holiday, no way, way; time for
the Thoth Parade, one of Tyger’s favorites. He catches it at the
Rehabilitation Center on Henry C. Clay Avenue, just offAudubon Park.
A bit of nostalgia wraps itself in this annual rite of
passage. This was the first parade Tyger attended after moving
to the Big Uneasy. He lives within walking distance Uptown.
A surprising touch of class is exhibited in this
exercise too. The parade route is designed to pass by the various
Uptown hospitals and clinics.
They refer to themselves as “The Krewe of Shut-Ins.” Thoth’s
riders are very generous with throws, paying special attention to
the sick and infirm, youngsters, and the eldest of elders. Often,
Thoth is a moving affair with more than a few dear tears
shed in grateful thanks.
All hail Thoth! May you continue until time stops
and the universe through entropy refolds.
Or barring that, roll ever onwards forever and a day.
Tyger stations himself next to a couple of nuns who, very un-nunlike,
join the forces of cosmic disorder, scrambling like the
rest of the pagans bowling each other over for doubloons and
dubious throws. A good time passes.
Thoth and Iris, another lame female krewe, follow the
traditional parade route downtown. Later, bright night-time
lights for Baachus, the second mega-parade, larger even than
Endymion. Baachus, god of wine, is generally ruled by a dipsy
Hollywood idol, or so the theory goes.
Who is it this time? Richard Dreyfus? “I didn’t think he was
gay,” Mac’s friend Sarah notes upon hearing the announcement. “Is he?”
“Why don’t you try to fuck him and find out ask him,” Mac replies.
Tyger bows out of the celebration for reasons similar to Endymion.
He has extra incentive since the last time he attended Baachus a drunken sailor
dumped a ton of beer on his freshly laundered jacket.
Who needs that shit? Let Mac and the gang enjoy the not-so-subtle
pleasures of Baachigator and the other immense mega-floats
swooning with colored lights and drunken maskers.
Tyger catches the flack on television instead.
Parades are fun to watch in absentia.
Revelers flop like mops all over town that night.
A veritable flood of tourists consume the Crescent City connection .
Mardi Gras minions are rumbling, bumbling, stumbling in
one’s face anywhere one looks.
They are out of fucking control– OOFC for the uninitiated.
It is still possible to ignore the inhuman wave, but only
just barely. A local hero has to plan his every move carefully,
like going to the Winn Dixie or the K&B nightmare.
Driving around town is next to impossible. No use
trying unless one simply must go somewhere. Even then, it takes a
lot of fortitude fortissimo. Hey babe, you have to flow limbo low
with the go. And just as abruptly stop for that’s Carnival rules.
Partying subsumes every street corner. An amazing array of
music and night-time diversion follows Baachus as required by
city psychic ordinance. Of course, the Baachus Extravaganza engulfs the Superhome.
And the French Quarter? Hahaha. You have to ask.
Better bring a life preserver if through those wild waters one traverses.
Monday arrives, barely. The rest of the world is working as
usual and many in New Orleans are forced by their superiors
headquartered in distant and regular places
like your Houston or Denver to show a similar pretense.
However, nothing gets done. No way, Jose. The unfortunately
working rat class mainly parties at the office,
plotting ways to abandon ship early.
Iceberg chunks clink in Baachus cups mixing with titanic
high octane self-pollutants. Lundi Gras, as they say,
is the calm before the storm.
Which is not to say that Proteus, who rules this day, can be
ignored safely. In fact, it is a great parade, another old-line
krewe with ancient floats backed by mystical lore.
They are throwing cups this time, the first of the old-line
krewes to adopt that recent innovation of actually throwing an
object useful throughout they year. Many N’awlins households use
these cups exclusively for lifestyle enhancino entertainment.
Arthur Hardy, designated Carnival historian for NewsBotch
Eyewitless NewsFake, describes these newfangled throws on the
Monday parade wrap-up:
“Proteus is throwing silver and gold doubloons, beads
and for the first time ever, red with a white design of a horse
Proteus cups. Good luck and happy Carnival.”
Tyger arrives at the P.D. stand a few minutes before Proteus
dives into the deep blue waters of Downtown night. A shiny red
cup drops at his feet from the first numbered float. He calmly
picks it up while a thin red-facedtourist — of course — dives
frenetically at his feet.
Our dear boy turns the cup over looking at it with
considerable faux admiration. “Not bad,” he reflects as the tourist
stares longingly. “Sorry.· Certain throws are meant for certain persons.”
The tourist seems perplexed by that comment, like a cat,
immediately short attention spanning back to the frenzied fray,
immersing itself in continuing Mardi Gras madness.
Proteus wobbles downtown on wood spoke wheels. Tyger grabs
another Polish Dog to go. “Ready for the big one tomorrow?”
asks Roy. “Ready as I’ll ever be,” Tyger notes.
“Haven’t we had a great Mardi Gras so far?” “Nah,” pause
“Only the greatest ever.” “I hope the weather holds. This makes or breaks
it for us.” “I’m sure it won’t, haha.” Mardi Gras like toilet bowl humor.
One of the recreational vehicle nomads who have descended
into the celebration stands guard nearby. A mini-village of such
vehicles has assembled at the YWCA parking lot.
“Hey buddy,” Roy says to the nomadic white haired man. “This
guy has been coming here forever ,” as he introduces Tyger.
“Yeah this guy came all way from Oklahoma. He visits with us
at the Oklahoma State Fair .”
“OK cool,” Tyger responds impressed. He has never met an
out-of-Carnival patron of the Polish Dog stand. Turning to the
R.V. man he asks: “Are Polish Dogs the same taste sensation up there?”
“Exactly the same,” the man replies smiling, satisfying
Tyger ‘s investigative curiosity. Always wondered ’bout dat.
Great is the truth and it prevails.
Rest is now the top priority for Mardi Gras veterans.
Tourists and selected localsare going wild all over town by this time.
Many of them will party all night.
Those savvy in the ways of Carnival already have staked out
prime spots along the St. Charles Avenue neutral ground as the
streetcars have stopped running. Some party in place as they will
all night and all the next day. Smart sheep grab needed sleep.
Tyger fits in category latter. Very foolish not to be well
rested. Fat Tuesday is the ultimate party endurance test.
Most partying like there is no tomorrow will
shortly discover their folly as they pass out in heaps along the
street sometime between the start of the truck parades and Comus.
Tyger spends time on the telephone firming up plans.
Everyone has assigned themselves time-honored tasks
preparing for the coming storm.
Tyger usually is first on scene at the P.D. stand psychically staking
out real estate location for location is all. Just another Mardi
Gras tradition so time honored in application that few remember how it began.
Tyger decided to rise late one Mardi Gras past. Big mistake.
Surprise, no surprise. That year was a disaster. As we digress.
Tygermeister was rudely awakened at 7 a.m. by the loud
Uptown revelry of local marching clubs fortifying themselves
with vast quantities of hooch, serenaded by incredibly loud
traditional Carnival music courtesy of Professor Longhair-
and Neville Brothers recordings. Simply no avoiding the fun.
Tyger gave up the ghost after that, always rising to greet the dawn head on
and then some as early as inhumanly impossible.
Coming on 7:30 a.m., this year of the Tyger, of political note, an
influential Louisiana state senator is hanging around Norby’s
bar with the rest of the marching club already drunk on his butt.
That’s Louisiana politics for you. Someone is always looking
out for the party’s interest
The few, if any, who somehow don’t make the massive passing
day of parades can watch the show on television anyway, since all
local stations pre-empt programming for Mardi Gras coverage.
That leaves those who are physically unable and a few losers
like Roots Badburns who can’t be bothered by such a celebration .
Roots is too lazy and has important business
like picking his nose hairs to attend to.
Never mind. One can count the stay-at-home crowd by handfuls
while a million, or more, throng to every conceivable vantage
point and ocular angle in, and around, the Crescent City.
Business as usual everywhere else, but magic enveloping the
Big F’in Easy. That’s the way New Orleanians roll. Who can
blame them, valid criticism of Carnival aside.
That is what makes New Orleans special.
Up up and away Tyger polishes off preparations at 8:15 a.m.
Just as well as it is a difficult journey downtown
on which he soon will embark .
Tyger fills the Altoid box with joints, checks on the so-called
“archives” in the freezer carefully removing from the
aluminum foil a select handful of LSD — extremely essential in
relating to the coming insanity — generally bracing himself
for whatever strange events will come. Ready, steady, eddy, and
Dennis Miller style, he is out of there.
Precise navigation is essential the trip downtown.
Firstly, Tyger must make it past the previously noted marching
clubs. Then, he must avoid the usually reliable Tchopitoulas
corridor since hundreds of truck floats are lining up
for their afternoon moment of immortality. A massive traffic jam clogs
nearby Uptown roads . Wise travelers, however, know the direct
route, skirting such obstacles, and across Napoleon Avenue
where the regular krewes form.
Which is how it happens this 1988 Mardi Gras Day; Tuesday
Feb. 16 for the rest of the free world. Maybe it takes 10 minutes
longer than usual, which seems a a small price to pay all things considered
Strap yourselves in dear comrades in the celebratory arts
and sciences. You are about to graduate into Carnival Day,
what promises to be the time of your lives.