We were at my sister's house last night and our niece had a collection of stuffed animals on sitting on the sofa -- a treasure trove she had snagged from a parade earlier in the day. She was going through the motions of throwing beads to them.
I think this is the most central theme in Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Many people may spend a few days here and not be able to tell you what float they liked best or what band played better. But ask them, and they will pull out their most prized pair of beads. They always have a story about how and where they caught them.
The throws can be pretty elaborate -- dolls, footballs, glass beads, cups, even coconuts (handed not tossed) -- there is just one thing that everyone seems to forget until it's all over: "What do you do with all this stuff?"
For many people the answer is easy -- put it up in the attic and throw it a next year's parades.
We have a bag sitting in the closet that makes an instant baby-sitter --- just add kids.
Every once in a while you get a catch so good -- it becomes a real treasure -- put up on the shelf with your prizes from parades of yore. But for most of it? Well, it's the thrill of the catch that counts, not the throw itself.
Another Mardi Gras will be history soon -- not until you have lost your voice and jumped up and down until exhaustion.
"Throw me something mister," you yell with a definite list to port because 20 pounds of treasure you have already caught.