It’s been six years since I began my emcee duties at Greensboro Fashion Week. I’ve been around since the very first one in September 2014, and every year — just like birthdays, anniversaries and Valentine’s Day — it seems to catch me off guard when it finally lands.

It’s a pretty grueling week for all involved: seven days of events that, as the week progresses, run later and later into the night. Most of us have other concerns like jobs, businesses and families to tend to, but we push it all aside in the name of fashion.

The closest approximation I can make is to Mardi Gras, another one of life’s beautiful interruptions that usurps everything else for all involved.

I spent the first 15 years of my professional life as a bartender in New Orleans, and I survived eight carnival seasons on St. Charles Avenue, the front lines for what is the largest, most decadent, most all-encompassing cultural event in the history of the United States.

Oh, I’ve got stories, most of them unprintable, but this column is more about preparation and endurance than the sort of things one sees over the bar during Mardi Gras, which most regular people wouldn’t even believe if they heard them.

And my Mardi Gras experiences prove useful when girding myself for this very different sort of marathon. 

First, I strip my schedule of everything superfluous, which includes things like sleeping and eating, and I prep my wardrobe well in advance. I apologize to those closest to me for my impending scarcity — these days it’s my family and coworkers, but in the old days it was girlfriends and drinking buddies, and then I gird myself for the long haul, resolving to do whatever it takes to get to the finish line without letting down the team.

Both events involve resigning myself to the larger enterprise, working to the point of exhaustion, eating anxiety and swallowing nervous energy.

And both are enormously gratifying.

The biggest difference, for me, is that I don’t know if I could make it through another Mardi Gras behind the bar. Compared to that, Fashion Week is easy.

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