Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Sunday Memory Drawer - Spring Broken

Ah yes, another movie from my childhood.  It seemed to be rerun over and over and over when I was a kid.  And I always watched it with amusement.  My reactions went from "gross" to "embarrassment" to "hmmmm."

When I was old enough, I suddenly found myself propelled south.  In the direction of Fort Lauderdale.   What was this phenomenon called spring break?  And how can I participate?

Okay, when you look at the cast of this movie, I'm certainly not on a level with George Hamilton and Jim Hutton.  Okay, I see Frank Gorshin's name.  That's more like it.  But, kids went on these excursions for one reason and one reason only.  To meet some members of the opposite sex.   With emphasis on the last word of that last sentence.

Truth be told, when I was in college, I didn't have the money to go on spring break.  Not with my father taking out a college loan to get me through four years of it.  But, as soon as I graduated and was making some small semblance of a living, it was time.  

My college roommate and I were going to Fort Lauderdale.   Where the boys are.  Well, in our case, where the girls were.   And, oh, yeah, we were boys ourselves.  Given that we were a year out of college, we fancied ourselves as some of the more refined guys on the beach.  Experienced, older men.

Yeah, right.

I remember telling my dad about my travel plans one March many years ago.  Of course, he always replied in the same way when I told him I was going someplace.

"What do you want to go there for?"

I didn't really want to tell the truth.   I simply told him I was exhausted after working in a real job for the past five months.  Plus it was my dough and I could spend it as I liked.  He gave me a cautionary word.

"Don't get anybody in trouble."


I asked him to repeat it.

"Don't get into any trouble."

It's not what I heard.   I didn't ask for an additional clarification.  At this age, you don't necessarily discuss THAT with your father.

My friend and I sought the use of a travel agent because, back in this day, that's how you went on a trip.  There was no website to access.  The lady got us into a nice hotel that was literally on the beach.  Sweet.  And, unlike the way most kids ventured to Fort Lauderdale, we would not be sleeping seventeen to a mattress.

It would just be us.  And maybe....

Oh, who the hell were we kidding?  It would be us.  Because, in a comparison to the movie, neither of us were George Hamilton or Jim Hutton.  Or even Frank Gorshin.  We were simply shy and borderline dorky us.

Of course, I was going to give this all my best shot.  For the six weeks prior to our planned trek into sun and fun, I would lie down on the floor of my bedroom and do 100 sit-ups every night.  I needed to present the best possible package.  I didn't want to look like Poppin' Fresh in a bathing suit.

Meanwhile, with an eye to this spring break nonsense, I had gone for official swimming lessons the previous fall with my neighborhood buddy Leo.  I had known how to stay afloat when I was a kid in my cousin's backyard pool.  Now I had to look like a professional.  Just in case any damsel needed saving.

Oh, who the hell was I kidding?

We went from a blustery March day in New York to a deliciously warm 80 degrees at the Fort Lauderdale airport.  The hotel was as advertised.  Right on the sand and we immediately went out to lie on it.  

Day 1?   Major sun burns for the both of us.  The kind of skin frying that makes you want to stay in bed.  And not move.

We did just that on Day 2.

We were better on Day 3 and, after a cautious day in the sun, we settled into what would be our nightly Florida routine.  The beach during the day.  Back to the hotel for a shower.  Then dressing in our finest Qiana shirts and double knit slacks for dinner out at some swanky restaurant.

After gorging ourselves on steak and sautéed mushrooms, we'd then put ourselves out on another kind of meat market.  We found one of those glitzy dance clubs, grabbed a bottle of beer, and stood on the side.

Watching and looking and surveying and...

Ultimately doing nothing.

Oh, we eventually, after much deliberation, asked a couple of girls to dance. Some said yes.  A lot said no.  And I began to wonder.

I did 4200 sit-ups for this??

But, as fruitless as this all was, we never varied our routine the entire time we were there.



A big steak.

Standing around and doing nothing.

Would you like to dance?

"I'm waiting for my friend in the bathroom."

"I stubbed my toe on a shell today."

"I can't.  I'm having my period right now."

Yes, I heard that.

So, unlike the movie, there was no Dolores Hart or Paula Prentiss or Yvette Mimieux or Connie Stevens in our immediate future.  We came to that realization pretty quickly and then began to focus on the last day of our trip.  When we would drive up to Orlando and spend the day with Mickey and Minnie Mouse.

On the day before our big drive to the Magic Kingdom, we saw a note on the bulletin board in our hotel lobby.



All of a sudden, there was a very attractive feature about the two of us.  Forget the sit-ups and the swimming lessons.  We had a freakin' rental car. 

We contacted them immediately.  And then spent the night before trying to figure how to evenly divide three girls with two very nice young men,

Another waste of energy. 

Which we found out fairly quickly at 6AM that Sunday when we all met at our car.

We had fantasized about a wonderful day at Florida's Happiest Place on Earth.  Deliciously flirtatious small talk on the way there.   Bonding over a chocolate chip cookie baked into mouse ears.  Throwing up together on the teacups.


These gals were the original Post-Its.  Stuck up.

The small talk didn't get far.  I asked what college they were from.

"Michigan.  And we all have boyfriends."

Hey, that wasn't my second question.  Or third question.  Or thirtieth question.  But, thanks for the information, bitch.

All the way to Orlando, it was a meeting of the Marcel Marceau tour group.  Nary a word was spoken.  

My college roommate and I had a great time at Disney World.  We debated leaving these chicks there.  Oh, sorry, didn't we tell you we were leaving at 8PM?  Ooops.

We were nicer than that.  And sat through another funeral service as we drove back to Fort Lauderdale.

We had gone all the way to Florida.  Where the girls are.  And found a whole lot less.

Yep, I had done all those sit-ups for nothing.

Dinner last night:  BBQ ribs and other treats at the home of good friends Connie and Leo....yes, the same guy mentioned in the story above.

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