I cannot remember when Simon Bao and I began our email exchange over Vietnamese food and culture. It has been years, perhaps nearly as long as this site has been around. A true hybridzed Vietnamese-American born to a Viet mom and American father, Simon never fails to tickled me with his wit -- which balances traditional Asia and modern America. He is a gifted story teller, a rarity these days. You may have read and responded to his comments in VWK posts.
A few weeks ago, we started emailing about Mardi Gras. Simon displayed a very personal connection to Fat Tuesday whereas my view of the event was tainted by a Catholic upbringing that entailed attending Ash Wednesday mass, getting ash on my forehead, and starting Lent. My parents were not Mardi Gras, let-loose kind of people. Plus, we lived in Southern California and the bayou was as far from us as the Mekong Delta in Vietnam.
Simon was persistent and kept asking about what I was going to do about Mardi Gras. Finally, I said to him, "Tell me what you do." He responded with this wonderful personal essay. In a David Sedaris-esque hilarity, Simon bridges cultural gaps, reminding us that we don't always know what we think we know about ourselves and others.
Sit back, take a read, and share your Mardi Gras experiences. Simon's prose will get you in the mood!