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sand in seedy places
the beauty of spring break
by heather m. millen
pop culture

Ahh, yes, spring is finally upon us. And with the sunshine, chirping birds, and blooming flowers comes the half-naked, drunken, screaming college kid. Every March and April brings the revered tradition that many a college student partakes in; the college Spring Break. They pack up their teeniest swimsuit, grab a handful of cash and their overly-abused credit card and jet set to one of the occasion’s hotspots. Whether it be Cancun, Key West, South Padre Island or Mazatlan, the outcome is the same- a week of drunken, debaucherous revelry. Ahh, to be young again.

Okay, maybe I’m only a couple of years removed from being able to immerse myself in this splendid activity, but it’s just so hard to flip past the MTV Spring Break programming and realize that this year, I'm not going to get the chance to win the “Body Shot” contest. Also, there are very few places I can wear a wet t-shirt! Most of us here are past the time of Spring Break and what do we have to look forward to when spring finally rolls around? Allergies. If however, you find yourself reading this and you ARE in college, get the hell outta here! Shouldn’t you be naked in a pool right now? Loser.

I, myself, have had many a fantastic spring break. The memories will last a lifetime. Fine, fine… pictures of times I can’t remember that will last a lifetime. But from what I’ve seen, I had a damn good time. It’s all about the sunshine and just letting go. Hey, people forget how overwhelming school gets come springtime. The pressure of getting up for 10 AM classes every day after going to the bars every night short of Sunday. Which, some may say, is an unnecessary way to spend your time, but think of the social growth you experience in college. Besides, two words, buddy: dollar draft.

But in all fairness, college can get stressful. Spring break is that last hurrah of the semester before finals set in. And the point is to unwind. And to see how much craze-packed fun you can squeeze into 7 days. And yes, how many beers you can squeeze into 24 hours. Have you ever had Cheerios and Coors Light together? Surprisingly delightful.

But Spring Break is not greeted only by bikini-top waving fans. In the late 80's, citizens of Ft. Lauderdale, FL did everything in their power to drive spring break festivities from their beaches. And each year at this time, all of the concerned mothers and general frazzled citizens come out of the woodwork to scream about binge drinking and to take a stand against all pastimes that spring break has come to embody.

On the American Medical Association website, you will find the following passage:

“The 'MTV Spring Break Special' glorifies college students on spring break getting drunk, making out with complete strangers, groping and licking sweaty body parts and bungee-jumping naked in Cancun and other vacation hotspots."

Have I mentioned how much I miss college?

It goes on to cite that “During spring break, the average male reported drinking 18 drinks per day and the average woman reported 10 drinks per day. More than half of all men and more than 40 percent of all women drank until they became sick or passed out at least once.”

In light of this fragile time of the year, the American Medical Association has named April “Alcohol Awareness Month.”

Okay, I understand that drinking in any ridiculous amount can be a problem, but when a stupid kid gets drunk and decides that jumping from their hotel balcony into the pool below is a good idea, maybe it’s not because they're drunk. Maybe it’s because they’re stupid. And if you know you’re the type of person who gets fucking retarded when you drink, like for instance, shitting on a city street and setting it on fire, maybe a raucous Spring Break isn’t for you. I’d suggest you spend it in counseling.

I remember my mother calling me one year right before I was heading off for my spring extravaganza and she was all in a frenzy after watching some television expose on spring breakers. She was like, “Heather, I was watching TV and all these kids were getting drunk and jumping into fires and I want you to promise me you’re not going to do that.”

“Uhm... sure, mom.” Ya know, never been so drunk that I thought I was inflammable.

Yes, maybe you do things that you wouldn’t do in a normal atmosphere, but personally I’ve never done anything that was ever going to get me or anyone else killed. The very worst that has happened is the weakening of my chance to ever hold political office. Yes, I can attest to going to a Key West clothing-optional bar and “opting” against some of the clothing. And taking a picture. And later finding out that picture was passed around the greater Triangle area in which I went to school. (Compensation to anyone in the Raleigh-Durham, NC area who locates and successfully confiscates any such photo.)

But despite even this, I’ve never gotten really retarded on any spring break rendezvous nor did I do anything I regret. And I’ve gotten pretty drunk. No, I’m talking druuunnnkkk.

One U.S. travel website cites that between eight and 20 college students are arrested for misdemeanors every night during spring break in Cancun. Common crimes are urinating in public, yelling obscenities at police, fighting or indecent exposure.

Sounds like a weekend with the boys to me. But I digress.

As a Rolling Stone article promoted in 2000, “There’s more to do with a week off than just drinking, having sex, and behaving like an idiot. There’s skiing, for instance, or sailing or scuba diving, all of which can be followed by drinking, having sex, and behaving like an idiot.”

And some people think pop culture encourages this type of behavior! Geez.

My point is that spring break is an honored time in many young adults’ life. And it’s goddamn fun. Let the kids play. And kids, don’t be fucking moronic, you’re nearly old enough to drink.

And soon, you’ll be me. Gazing longingly from your office window wishing you could get out there and celebrate this dawning of spring. I recently moved to the beach and I still can’t get out there to enjoy it nearly as much as I’d like. Sure, there are parts of spring break that have lost its appeal for me. 15 people do not equal one hotel room and bean burritos and vodka are not breakfast. But a free week to just get out there and enjoy? College kids are lucky, undeserving bastards.

Ahh, well. Guess I’ll just have to grab a margarita after work and celebrate Alcohol Awareness Month that way. Cheers! To sun-drenched, liquor-soaked memories!


Heather has a penchant for drama, both personally and professionally. She secretly wishes people spoke in song and wholeheartedly believes that everyone deserves a standing ovation now and again. She finds it appalling that people reserve champagne only for special occasions, when champagne is clearly best on a Tuesday, while riding the subway, accompanying a slice of kick-ass pizza.

more about heather m. millen


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robert melos
4.11.03 @ 2:27a

You know, I said to myself, that girl in the photo on partynaked.com looks familiar. I shook my head and said, nah. It couldn't be someone I know. Well, it could, but I kind of doubt it. Then again....

trey askew
4.11.03 @ 9:56a

Heather, I remember the days when it was your dream to party like MTV. Wait, wasn't that yesterday? Hmm...

matt morin
4.11.03 @ 11:00a

My spring breaks were always spent working. Senior year I spent spring break on a friend's parent's farm bucking hay, picking cherries, and planting trees.

It was actually kinda fun.

We'd work our asses off all day. Get fed 100%-made-from-scratch meals from her mom in the evening. Then play pool, drink beer, and lounge in the hot tub all night.

heather millen
4.11.03 @ 11:23a

Work? No naked coeds? No body shot contests? Were there MTV dancers on the haystacks?

I can't conceive of it! What did everyone else do for their spring breaks? Fave memories?

erik myers
4.11.03 @ 11:26a

Most often, I went back home to the dead of winter in Maine to watch a theater festival.

All those things you describe? That was college. I had to take a break and relax at some point.

matt morin
4.11.03 @ 11:28a

Most often, I went back home to the dead of winter in Maine to watch a theater festival.

Maybe that was your problem - having spring break in the dead of winter. Try having it in the spring, it's warmer.

erik myers
4.11.03 @ 11:29a

March, in Maine? That's the dead of winter.

I went to school in NY where it was invariably warmer by about 20 degrees.

sarah ficke
4.11.03 @ 11:43a

Let me see... went to the caribbean with my family, went home, went to Spain for 10 days, and went to New Orleans. None of them were MTV at all, but I had a good time.

jael mchenry
4.11.03 @ 11:59a

I never did anything interesting for Spring Break. I think I went to Iowa three years out of four. Although it was fun bringing a friend home one year, and enjoying the role reversal when she asked for "soda" in an Indiana restaurant and they gave her funny looks.

heather millen
4.11.03 @ 12:20p

Oh, I've had the more tame spring breaks. Like the exciting week in Ohio. Woo hoo! But its the Keys that stands out for me. MTV has never been there, but that state of mind sure is. Plus, you have to be 21 there, which was nice to not have the immature 19 yr olds all over the place. Ya know ,so the immature 21 yr olds could play!

And there's a bar that collects patrons bras. Classy.

michelle von euw
4.11.03 @ 2:47p

I had two Florida spring breaks, and both contained their share of MTV-style moments, with boys and drinking and whatnot. The year after I graduated from college, a friend and I took a week in March off and had "pretend" spring break in Charleston.

mike julianelle
4.11.03 @ 3:53p

I went to Key West. Good times. Scooters rule. As does Fat Tuesdays.

heather millen
4.11.03 @ 3:54p

You got drunk and wrecked it, didn't you? This is what I see happening to Mike in Key West.

Hey, what year did you go? I was there 2 in a row. Be pretty funny if we passed drunken trails and didn't even know it.

mike julianelle
4.11.03 @ 4:52p

Um...BC's Spring Break is earlier than most. Early March, 1998.

heather millen
4.11.03 @ 5:45p

Oh, phew! So it wasn't you that ended up with me face down in the sand nak...


robert melos
4.11.03 @ 10:14p

I have a vivid memory of splitting a bottle of tequila with this Canadian guy. Then we decided to put a note in the bottle and throw it in the ocean. It took about ten tried for us to get the bottle into the ocean. Just kept swinging around, and missing this big body of water.

I also remember something about a guy named Ryder, but that may have been a movie. Of course SB was much different back in the 80s. Maybe MTV moments, but all I remember is being hungover, a lot. SB was spent at Virginia Beach and Myrtle Beach. I remember a lot of drunken miniature golf in SC.

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