I’m fascinated by cycles, including the cycle of seasons. And so I’m a sucker for traditions, especially the annual traditions that we use to mark our time here.
Yet I’ve long found New Year’s Eve to be one of the most vexing and problematic days on the calendar. It seems like an empty exercise in forced gaiety, a party without much purpose. Are we having fun yet? I’m not.
That all changed when I discovered the Orleans Avenue bonfire. This was the best way to mark the turning of the year — until they took it away from us in 2008. More on that later.
If New Year’s Eve is a wash, at least there’s New Year’s Day. Assuming you can avoid hangover, that is. There is a whole brand new year to contemplate, a past year to reflect on, stock to be taken, resolutions to be made. Excitement! Eh, not exactly.
If you’re extremely lucky, however, there is one thing to look forward to on New Year’s Day: a visit from the Egg Roll Man.
Surely you’ve heard of him?
My friend Anthony started this new tradition maybe five or six years ago. On New Year’s Day, he cooks up a bunch of egg rolls, dons a special hat, and makes the rounds delivering them.
And I’m proud to say that our house has been his traditional first stop since the beginning.
This year, the Egg Roll Man stopped by my house and gave me a delicious egg roll (veggie, thanks) and we commiserated for a minute about the police-state shenanigans of the night before, and the ongoing suppression of the Orleans Avenue bonfire. More on that later.
This year, the Egg Roll Man logged 106 miles around the New Orleans metro area, delivering approximately 107 egg rolls at over 50 stops. It took him 12½ hours. He also delivered satsumas this year, because as we all know, that’s good luck.
I still remember that one year when he made his delivery, and my mother-in-law started digging out her billfold. She was going to be gracious and pick up the tab. I laughed and explained that there was no tab to pick up. The Egg Roll Man doesn’t want to make any money, folks. He just loves to deliver egg rolls.
Why would anyone do such a crazy thing? If you have to ask, you’ll never understand.
When I was a kid, I felt my family didn’t have enough traditions, so I tried to institute one of my own: having fondue on New Year’s Day. The Egg Roll Man makes perfect sense to me.
All our traditions are invented. Every cool thing we celebrate throughout the year was started by a person who was probably considered at least halfway crazy at the time.
Thank you, Egg Roll Man. The world could use more of your kind of craziness. See you next year.
Footnotes: I’m beyond flattered to have been asked to write this column for Mid-City Messenger. I’ll have more on the Orleans Avenue bonfire in a future installment — promise.
Bart Everson is a writer, a photographer, a baker of bread, a husband, a father and a resident of Mid-City. He is a founding member of the Green Party of Louisiana, past president of Friends of Lafitte Greenway, and a participant in New Orleans Lamplight Circle. More at BartEverson.com