I always try to avoid The Mermaid Parade. For years, I would arrange to be out of town on the day it was held. This year, though, work was more distracting than usual and the date snuck up on me. By the time I realized how late it was, it was too late to book a place on a train.
At least with an office job, I get The Mermaid Parade as a day off. I don’t have to make my way to some retail or food-service job. My friend Doug doesn’t like The Parade either, and he volunteers to work at his store as a way of missing the event. He tells me every year about some idiot who comes in and says something like, “Hey, you shouldn’t have to work on a day like this,” while completely oblivious that the store is only open to cater to idiots who can’t live without their fizzy drink in an official Parade tie-in plastic cup.
Doug doesn’t have to live near The Parade’s route, though, so he misses out on a lot of the really ugly stuff. I didn’t have to go out while it was on, and I did not. I just drew the blinds, sat as far from the windows as possible, and read. There was nothing on TV but Parade coverage, of course.
Even when I realized I didn’t have anything good for supper, I didn’t go out to become one of Doug’s idiots. Not only didn’t I want to as much as glimpse The Mermaid Parade, there was the chance of running into a constable on patrol. I know how they work– “Not attending The Parade?” which is not actually a question but an accusation. I’ve heard of people who have had months of gentle harassment from the constables for not having a satisfactory answer.
Yes, I just sat and read my book yesterday. Well, I tried to. On the fourth floor of an old building on the first day of summer, I couldn’t close my windows, and it was really hard to concentrate over the noise of The Parade, just two streets over. The cheering and the bands are bad enough, and I’ll never understand why there are so many bagpipes involved, but what really gets to me is all the moaning and screaming as the participants drag themselves across miles of pavement to the ceremony at the plaza. They sound very nearly human.
Why, I wonder, do we celebrate our victory over them like this after so many years? I guess without the annual tribute, their numbers would grow and then there’d be another war.
What’s really got me down, though, was having to come into work this morning, going through The Mermaid Parade’s aftermath to catch my bus. The stink from the slime and scales in the gutters was terrible. Even worse was the sight of that paper tube, one end still holding a few wisps of cotton candy, the other glued to the pavement by a bloody hand-print.
I am definitely marking my calendar for next year.
“The Mermaid Parade” © 2016 Dirck de Lint