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Please Don’t Hate Me When I Confess That I Hate A Parade. Honestly, I Am A Nice, Kind, And Easily Amused Person, But While I Can Understand Marching Charm As An Intellectual Construct, I Do Not Revel In It.

June 4, 2010

Last time I went to a parade, the most exciting thing I saw was the horse pooping right in front of me. • Pauline Wayne

July Fourth is fast approaching and I’ll be figuring out how to politely decline those considerate invitations from friends who are willing to stake out a place for me along some parade route or another so that I can arrive and sit in the sun for hours awaiting something I don’t care if I see.

There. I’ve said it. I don’t care if I see a parade. I don’t care if it’s Mickey and Minnie dancing their way down Main Street at Disneyland or the Anytown Garden Club marching proudly with their carefully-arranged displays of homegrown roses on Main Street, U.S.A, I don’t love it. (Okay, okay. I do make an exception for small children riding tricycles they’ve decorated themselves with crepe paper and balloons. Even I—an official parade pooh-pooher—think they’re cute and amusing, although I probably won’t walk downtown to see them.)

Parades involve far too much time spent waiting in the sun for the anticlimax of questionably significant displays. For every stunning and talented or clever and quirky marching band I’ve seen, I’ve seen at least a hundred slow-moving cars filled with local politicians and beauty queens. I’m sure they’re loving those moments of glory, but I usually don’t know who these luminaries are and even when I do, I don’t care, no matter how beautifully they wave at me.

It could be that my antipathy stems from this: There are people who are the equivalent of lizards basking in the sun. Give them a hot rock to lie on and they’re content to be pancakes on life’s griddle. They like sitting in the sun waiting and they don’t much care what for. Not me. Roll the rock over and there I’ll be, scurrying away from the brightness. I haven’t basked since I was young and stupid and longing for tanned loveliness.

As you might imagine, I was drawn to a headline in the Portland [Oregon] Tribune for Thursday, May 27 (the year was obscured by the head of a dragon float extending into the banner). Let’s assume it’s 2010. Here’s what it said: “How to get your child on a float in the ROSE PARADE (and why maybe it’s not such a good idea).” I read on (pages A1-A2) because I especially wanted to know about the not-such-a-good part.

Turns out that children don’t make good float riders, tending to get bored and tired and in need of facilities. One parade float-filler who uses actors notes that actors “never complain and don’t have to go potty,” also noting that in other parades like New Orleans, “they have bathrooms on board the floats because the riders drink so much they can’t go a whole parade without a bathroom.”

Delightful to think of what’s happening beneath those festive flowers as that parade passes by. Also delightful to sit or stand waiting for hours for drunken revelers to toss shiny tackiness your way. Fortunately, I won’t have to do any of this because I hate a parade!

What would your parade celebrate? Who would be in it? What kinds of floats and/or marchers would you have to entertain the crowds?

I was once a horse’s heiney in a parade. This is not an experience I’d recommend to anyone. Walking bent over holding on to someone else’s butt for several miles in July heat while dressed in fake fur is a torture guaranteed to make the most hardened criminal confess to just about anything. • Story told by a person I sat next to at a parade in the latter part of the twentieth century (gosh, doesn’t that sound portentous somehow—much better than twelve years ago)

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