Spring Break is a common ritual for American college students. Perhaps the Europeans or Aussie’s do it, but they’re not Americans and therefore could barely imagine the immature debauchery and self-justified indulgences in which Americans engage their young bodies. Working out the month before, applying self-tanning formulas and maintaining a strong alcohol tolerance (almost by accident of going to an American University), we prepare for the yearly rite. I had attended two “true” Spring Breaks as an undergrad to Florida and completed the task of acting ridiculous while mixing hilarity with undercurrents of unknown danger. Those early jaunts were amazing times of freedom. To escape the pressures of studies with daily drinking and partying, to be only around your tight group of friends pretending to be adults is quite an experience.
However, attending Spring Break at 30, with stomach ulcers, the beer bong looks more like a torture instrument than a tool for cool cocktail consumption. Last week, South Padre Island was alive with tourists from all over the USA. They were mostly a flabby bunch of tanned girls with oversized sunglasses and the ubiquitous hairless muscle mass of frat boy testosterone. The kids today, they look just like we did, except now I can see them as they are. They are only kids.
I overheard a female explaining her “crazy” night before as I waited for my Subway sandwich. It was basically just her trying to find a bathroom before she urinated in her tiny jean skirt. University is just a larger, parentless extension of high school. Nobody really knows anything, but now we’re alone and we have to fake our way through it. It’s amazing anyone makes it out alive.
In my college daze, I could’ve died at least ten times on three different continents due to being so hasty and excessive. Perhaps it makes you stronger; you wake up with the hangover, you make it through the blackouts, you make it through the long nights and early mornings, you continue and the world continues.
Watching the twenty-something’s hang out of moving pick-up trucks, walk shoeless through the glass covered sidewalks, and chug crappy beers, I kept saying to myself, “Ohh, that’s not smart.” Of course it’s not smart, that’s why they’re doing it, to prove that they can get away with it. They are pushing boundaries and pushing themselves to the limits and finding their own edges.
My beautiful girlfriend and I watched the Snoop Dogg and Ghostland Observatory concert people-watching with interest of the manifestations of today’s youth culture. They are just growing up in a different world than I did. Ten years after I entered college, I wondered what life must be like for these people. Imagine being 7 or 8 when September 11th happened. Imagine never watching MTV videos all day on a rainy Sunday. Imagine knowing about only ONE Iraq War.
Our world has entered a new realm of computers and instantaneous knowledge and satisfaction. Jack Kerouac’s early idol, Thomas Wolfe, wrote, “You can never go home again.” Once we’re out, the comfortable absurdity dies a slow death. Seeing the youth enjoy their youth is a good thing for older people. We can remember our younger days and take pride in making it out alive and wiser. So thank you Spring Breakers, you will always serve a purpose in your selfish stupidity—making others feel smarter.