This isn't the first time it's happened. It's what the Maenads meant. Rabelais talks about it, Carnival, and most of us have done Mardi Gras at least once. The masks come off when the masks go on. You could say that our country has a sickness in that we don't do it anymore, but I think that's only partially true -- you still get the Margaret Meads and Robert Blys saying we don't have rites of passage either, and they're right too -- but I think the unimaginable is particularly hard to imagine. That's what the chaos, the loss of control ("we crave it") basically means, and it always looks terrifying to people outside the circle. In my family we call it "drinking." In Washington they call them Tea Parties.
Rabelais was enamored of them, glamoured by them, because they represented cultural rebirth: For one day, the world turns upside down. A peasant becomes a king, or the Wicker Man is lit, common sense about food and sex goes crazy around us, and we all remember that most of this fake civilization bullshit is just something we agreed upon so things would go easily. When you're sitting at a 3 AM red light and nobody's coming, there's a little thrill in running that light. It's a reminder that nobody's watching, the Mad God isn't coming: There's just us, and our choices. Even if, in the morning, somebody has to be blamed.
But tonight it's in full swing. Sookie Stackhouse is still screaming, as usual, as Lafayette orders Tara and Eggs downstairs with their big weird egg. Eggs grunts happily, and Tara hoots to herself, and they nearly weep with anticipation of the coming God. Left with black-eyed Lafayette, Sookie reaches out to him; inside his head it's a maelstrom of preparation, running through them all like a river underwater: Prepare her for Bromios, prepare her for Eleutherios...
Lafayette tells her to take off her clothes, and she's shocked. Watching this the first time, it's as disorienting for us as for Sookie -- just how far gone is he? -- but when you watch it again, the whole conversation takes less than five seconds. He menaces her, tells her to take off her clothes, flirts with your racism, and then bends down: Not to smell her, but to present her with her bridal party gown. Scary and then not scary is the basis of all comedy. She puts it on quickly and he shoves her down the stairs.
Tara, Arlene and Jane attend the bride: Maiden, Mother, Crone. She flips back her veil and grins wildly at Sookie, beyond joyful. "What the hell are you doing in my grandmother's wedding dress?" Maryann ignores her rudeness and welcomes her, explaining -- as the triplet goddess frames Herselves around the bride, like a tableau reenactment -- that Sookie's the maid of honor. Behind Sookie, Lafayette claps hilariously to himself.