For many, those words probably conjure up thoughts of “Girls Gone Wild” videos and piles of students descending on Florida in bikinis, tank tops and flip flops.
These days, what Spring Break means to me is a few days off work. That’s one of the perks of being employed at a college, I guess. I get to hold on to a little shred of youth that my corporate counterparts envy. If you work anywhere other than a school and want a Spring Break of your own, you’d better be prepared to burn up some vacation time.
This year, my Spring Break is next week. For the students, that means a week of no class (take that any way you want). For us staff members, it means a four-day weekend before we go spend three days on a ghost town of a campus getting all caught up on the work we can’t get to when things are hustling and bustling. If my muse is kind, I’ll spend those extra days off writing. If the weather is kind, I’ll do that in the backyard while swinging in my hammock.
Pretty far cry from doing beer bongs in a thong, huh?
I wasn’t always this tame. I can’t claim to have ever danced half-naked on the beach in Florida while MTVs bands-o’-the-year played in the background. My friends and I were more of the true “starving student” variety and couldn’t afford to head south and party like rock stars.
That doesn’t mean we didn’t have our share of fun.
Note: The following true story is not meant to glamorize acting like an idiot or to encourage current or future Spring Breakers to do so. It is simply a memoir from the years I affectionately call my “Dumbass Days.” There has been more than one moment in the retelling of this tale that my fingers have paused on the keyboard as I thought – ‘wow, you really WERE that effin’ stupid, weren’t you?’
The Spring Break of my 19th year sticks out most clearly in my memory. Three of my closest girlfriends and I decided to pack up and head to the beach for a four-night stay. We couldn’t tackle Florida, but Ocean City MD in the March off-season was within our budgetary grasp if we all piled into one hotel room. So that’s what we did.
There was a beach, but no bikini-clad body shots. In case you don’t know, March in Ocean City can be pretty damn cold. At least that one was. So instead of short-shorts and flip-flops we had jeans and sweatshirts, but that was just fine. Because we had the prize of all prizes when it comes to Spring Breaking.
One of us had just had her 21st birthday, and could legally get …BEER.
There isn’t much to do in Ocean City in March. Our hotel was on the boardwalk, but most of the shops were closed in the off-season. There were plenty of bars around, but only our legal friend would have gotten in. So we did the next best thing as soon as we were all checked in. We sent her to the liquor store. She came back loaded down with beer and wine coolers, which we all helped her lug up to our room. Our balcony overlooked the ocean, so we settled in for an evening of drinking and chit-chatting, feeling marvelously grown up with our own hotel room and wine coolers in our hands.
Well, me, the 21-year-old, and one other girl did anyway. Our other friend, who wasn’t much of a drinker, went down to the hotel desk to grab a few extra towels, and was gone a long time. When she game back, she was all smiles and giggles. What my friend lacked in college-party-girl drinking skills she more than made up for in flirtatiousness, and she’d captured the interest of the desk clerk.
So we all laughed about how she was going to “score,” which in retrospect is extremely Beavis and Buttheadesque for a quartet of chicks. Then someone knocked on the door. One of us opened it to find 3 guys standing there. Like us, they were Maryland students who couldn’t afford the big-time Spring Break adventure and were settling for a local off-season beach. We all stood in the hotel’s hallway for a while and got to know each other.
I’d love to tell you they were drawn by our wit and beauty. But let’s be real. The truth was, they’d been outside when my friend returned from the liquor store with our booze. Like the rest of us, they were under 21.
A tall willowy blonde with a valid ID is a magnet when you’re a frat boy who needs some booze. So after a bit of small talk, they convinced our friend to go back to the liquor store and stock them up too. Our flirty friend went along for the ride. The remaining chica and I downed another wine cooler apiece and decided to grab our bathing suits and head to the indoor pool.
After a long, leisurely swim and gossip fest, we returned to the room. The others were back, and had let the guys join our little party. Between our liquor and theirs, we now had Booze Mountain, and we were ready to climb it. One of them had a deck of cards, and we made up stupid drinking games and proceeded to get even stupider. At some point, our non-drinking friend got bored with it all, and told us she was heading downstairs for a bit.
“She’s gonna try to boink the bellboy,” one of us teased. It might have been me. Desk clerk or bell boy, I guess after two hours of drinking games it all blends together. She just gave us a mischievous grin and bounced away.
The night wore on, and eventually we got tired. My swimming buddy had really hit it off with one of the guys, and they were sitting on one of the beds talking and getting smoochy. One of the others realized he wasn’t getting lucky with either me or my Legally Blonde friend, said his goodnights and stumbled back to their room. The last of the boys had curled up in a semi-passout on our floor and was snoring just a little. So Legally Blonde and I crawled into the other bed and almost fell asleep, until I came out of my drunken ditz state long enough to realize something was missing and shot up like a rocket.
“Holy shit – Flirt never came back!” I cried.
Legally Blonde shot up next to me, and Swimming Buddy halted her make-out session with her guy. We fretted and worried for a bit. In the pre-everyone-has-a-cell-phone era, there was no calling or texting our friend to make sure she was safe. We had just convinced ourselves to go downstairs in search of her or at least the Bell/Desk Boy when our room phone rang. It was her, apologizing for waiting so long to call and reporting that she was spending the night at Bell/Desk Boy’s place.
That worried us, but we settled for making him give us his name and warning him that if she didn’t come back safe and sound we would hunt him down and neuter him or at least tell his boss. Then Legal and I curled back up to slumber, and Swimming Buddy resumed her frat boy canoodle.
Unfortunately for us, Flirt’s call had awoken the Floor Snorer. He stumbled to his feet, realized he wasn’t in his room, and decided that it would take too much effort to get there. After all, there was a bed with two almost-asleep drunk girls right in front of him, right?
I didn’t feel anything the first time he tried to crawl up in between us. He bumped into Legal first and she sleep-kicked him back to the floor. When he tried again, I took over kicking duty.
The third time he tried, Legal rolled over and said “Oh, screw it. He just wants a place to pass out.”
I was drunk. I was fuzzy-headed. But I also knew I didn’t want to share my bed with a strange drunken frat boy, even if all he did was drool and snore.. A sensible girl would have said “Enough, c’mon, I’ll walk your dumb drunk ass to your room.”
Me? Since I was almost as drunk as he was, my solution was to leap out of bed, tell them all they were assholes (at this point I was also annoyed at Swimmer and her frat boy. I mean, they COULD have stopped sucking face long enough for him to drag his friend home, right?) and stomped out of the room.
By the time I was in the hallway, I realized I was wearing nothing but shorts and a thin tee-shirt. I was barefoot, and I knew that at this time of night it was going to be pretty damn cold and windy out. But stubborn pride forced me into the elevator, down to the lobby, and out onto the boardwalk.
I’d show them! Yeah, right. The minute I left, Floor Snorer crawled in the spot I’d warmed up in the bed and went back to snoring. Legal was already sleeping again. I don’t think Frat Boy and Swimmer even realized I’d left.
Not knowing what else to do with myself, I sat on the edge of the boardwalk and dangled my feet into the sand. The cold boards nipped at my bare legs, and the sand felt chilly under my toes. The wind whipped my hair, and I was shivering. But the sound of the ocean was soothing, and the sky was full of stars. I sat on the almost-empty boardwalk and watched the ocean, trying to convince myself that I wasn’t cold at all. If it weren’t for the chattering of my teeth, I might have even believed myself.
“Well, hello. What’s a lass like you doing sitting out here all alone in the wee hours o’ the morning?”
The question, spoken in a deep Irish accent, came from somewhere behind me. A lass like me? What – drunk, bleary-eyed, and freezing in her shorts? Startled, I turned around and found myself staring at two tall guys who looked to be just a little older than me.
To Be Continued Next Tuesday (3/20)