Out of all the revelry of Mardi Gras, nothing beats sleeping. Not during the night. Or the day for that matter. I’m talking about the post-Mardi Gras nap. The greatest nap you’ll ever take in your life. This isn’t just any nap though. You need to prepare.

It all starts on Friday. Don’t camp out on the parade route, lose your car keys and fill your backpack until it’s ready to burst; you’re going walking. Start out bright and early and get a solid two miles in, preferably in the cold. You need to start out sore and miserable or you’ll never get to where you’re going: The greatest nap of your life.

Once Friday’s parades are done, you might notice that the weight has shifted. Your backpack is empty, but your neck is so covered in beads that you can barely turn your head. You keep all that plastic jewelry right there until you get back home. Remember, no pain no gain. Feel free to sleep tonight. You’ll need it if you’re going to nap come Tuesday.

Saturday you might think is just the same thing, but that’s just because you’ve never achieved the post-Mardi Gras nap. Today is the day you realize you’re out of food. You’re hungry, desperate and broke. So thank God people are throwing it at you. But if you’re going to get those tiny bags of weird off-brand chips and potentially dangerous Saran-wrapped sandwiches you’d better work it. As the B-52’s once said “shake it ‘til the butter melts,” lest you starve.

You’re not going to feel so good by Sunday. But if you want your reward, you’ll stand on the edge of the neutral ground and take it like a pro. Continue amassing beads and other trinkets, they’ll come in handy at the end of it all. Sunday is more about endurance than anything else so keep on keeping on.

Finally, we hit Lundi Gras. I say finally because from here on out you won’t sleep. Any parades that got rained out will end up right here and you won’t miss any of them. They’ll go into the wee hours of the morning and it won’t be worth walking back only to wake up an hour or so later for Zulu.

Once you’re finally at Rex you know it’s over. The masked men riding horses are only blurs of color and all you can think about is jambalaya.  Sweet, spicy jambalaya. Get some, you’ve earned it. Walk back through the truck parades and get home. Behold your treasure trove. Now is the time. Prepare for the nap. And by prepare I mean fall face down into your unmade bed. If you hit some beads just leave them. It doesn’t matter at this point.

If you’ve done as I’ve instructed and survived, you’ll wake up about 20 hours later in a state of pure euphoria. You’ll be surrounded by treasure, filled with memories and parts of your body you thought would never feel right again feel like they’re brand new. This is the moment where it all comes together. This, my friend, is the post-Mardi Gras nap. In my opinion, the greatest part of Mardi Gras.

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