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Punch Drunk: Richmond's Moveable Feast



I was young and not gloomy and there were always strange and comic things that happened in the worst time.
— Ernest Hemingway, “A Moveable Feast”

Easter is known as a moveable feast, meaning that its date isn’t fixed on the traditional Gregorian or Julian calendars. When the holiday falls is determined instead on the lunisolar calendar, whose date includes the moon phase and the time of solar year. The Hebrew, Hindu and Buddhist calendars also are lunisolar. For the sake of brevity, a lunar calendar bases each month on the time between new moons. A new moon occurs every 29 and half days.

I can’t tell you how many Wikipedia pages it took me learn all of that. Four, at least. It made my brain hurt. I need some sort of Easter-themed cocktail now.

What I’m saying is, Easter is never on the same date, thus it and other holidays around Easter such as Ash Wednesday, Ascension and Pentecost, are termed moveable feasts. Days that are always on the same date are known as fixed feast days, such as St. Patrick’s Day. They kept it easy for us drunks.

But I’m not here for any religious talk. Not my thing. I go to church only once a year, on Christmas, when we visit my girlfriend’s relatives in Texas and it’s what you might call a forced feast, in that they force me to go via shotgun. Although seeing people wearing Tony Romo jerseys in a church that’s almost the size of the old Texas Stadium never gets tiresome. Seriously, it’s football and God, in that order.

Ernest Hemingway, whose self-serving memoir was titled (although not by him) “A Moveable Feast,” supposedly once said, “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” His implication presumably being that his experiences in France in the 1920s helped shape the rest of his very full life.

Before Papa mentioned it, Albert Camus in his 1942 absurdist masterwork, “The Stranger,” writes, “Masson remarked that we’d had a very early lunch, but really lunch was a movable feast, one had it when one felt like it.”

So really, a moveable feast can mean anything you want it to mean. Varying lunchtimes, ingrained experiences that travel with you or a holiday with no set date in which a man comes back from death and then flies. That’s what happens, right? I need to go to church more.

I only bring up the feast and Easter because they herald one of my favorite Richmond events and that’s the annual Monument Avenue Easter on Parade, an event that truly is a moveable feast — in that you’re moving and feasting — and probably drinking.

Where else can you see hundreds of dogs wearing bonnets and local celebs like Joe Morrissey, Charlie Diradour and Andreas Addison shaking hands with mere mortals? If the weather is nice, which is no guarantee this time of year, it feels like half the city — the well-to-do half — descends upon Monument Avenue between Allen and Davis attired in their pastels and Sunday best.

For those lucky enough to know someone who owns a house on that stretch of Monument and who happens to like you enough to invite you, the patio parties are really where it’s at — and if you’re not lucky enough, but you’re nice, people will probably let you come join the party. Just wear a bonnet. You can’t not trust someone who’s wearing a bonnet. Take the Amish.

Patio parties aside, Easter on Parade definitely is a family-friendly event, but that’s never stopped my rowdy friends and me from stinking up the joint in our sharpest pastel polos. I find that if you wear a BabyBjorn, people tend to approve of you. They’re like: “I like the cut of that guy’s jib. Plus look, he’s a father. They don’t just let any random jackass become a father.” My advice though: Don’t let them see the baby, which in your case will actually be a 40-ounce bottle of Steel Reserve malt liquor.

“Whoa! That’s not a baby! Who stole my baby?!”

Then chuckle and give that terrified stranger a swig of the good stuff. We’re all friends on Easter Sunday.

Oh, I should also mention that Jonathan the Juggler will be there parading around on Easter Sunday. If you can’t get hype about a dope juggler, you might as well stay in that grave, am I right?!

Hemingway would’ve laughed at that. S

Jack Lauterback also is co-host of “Mornings with Melissa and Jack” on 103.7 Play weekdays from 6-9. Connect with him at letters@styleweekly.com, or on Twitter at jackgoesforth.

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