I had the great fortune to attend three Fantasy Fests when I lived in Key West way back when I was young and child free. Over the years we had a few unfortunate mishaps (like when someone slipped X to a visiting houseguest causing her to throw up for hours) but mostly it was fun in that Big Fun way you like to look back on and immortalize after you have children and can't really have that kind of grown up fun anymore.
For those who are unaware, Fantasy Fest is about cheap plastic beads in a large way. The goal is to get so many beads that you get a neck ache or at least a really sweaty collarbone from wearing them all night. Many women flashed their money-makers to get beads, but I did not.
I figured it wasn't really a thing locals did, because, unlike the tourists, I would have to see some of these people again, like at work or in the grocery store. I had a friend who flashed at Fantasy Fest, and she was once confronted by a homeless man who raised his shirt at her and said, "I saw your boobies last night!"
I also knew that I was going to be a mother someday, and I didn't think that was the kind of behavior I wanted someone to catch on film and potentially haunt me some day.
Also, you could totally get a ton of beads not flashing, so why bother? Besides, I figured my boobs were worth more than plastic beads. If they were throwing strings of rubies or pearls that would be one thing.
In the divorce, I fought for and won my ex-husband and my Fantasy Fest bead collection, which we had toted around in a box in the half a decade after we left Key West. We moved seven times, and each time we carefully packed them up and brought them along. I let my ex win on our fight over the kitchen broom, but those beads were mine.
The beads have since become property of the boys, and live in a tangled heap in their bedroom. Occasionally, particularly when a girl comes over, they are brought out for dress up or pirate treasure or what have you.
I found their ride-on ponies decorated in beads the other day, and I nostalgically untangled a few more strands for Spot and Butterscotch to wear. And then it hit me.
Someday these kids will learn about flashing for beads at either Fantasy Fest, Mardi Gras or some other bead-greed parade. And they will remember their mother's ginormous stash of beads.
It doesn't matter that I kept my shirt on; they will never believe me. Heck, I don't think any of my friends now will believe me, knowing my flamboyant nature. I have evidence of a crime I never committed already stashed in the memory banks of my kids.
Essentially, I should have flashed everyone after all. But, you know, looking back, I don't regret not flashing then. It would have been out of character for me in those days. And I still have boobs, old boobs granted, but they are still attached to my body. If I really want to flash someone, I still can. Not sure I really want to, but still. Those kids aren't around all the time, after all. My grown up fun days are not entirely behind me if I don't want them to be. I am not dead yet.