springbreak

springbreak

In High School, everyone was always going on super fun Spring Break vacations.
Most of which were taking place in crazy, beach resort towns in awesome places like Florida, South Carolina, or Mexico. I never went on these Spring Break vacations so, much of my knowledge of them is coming from inflated stories from friends and the exaggeration that was MTV. See, this was the 90s – just after MTV had stopped playing music videos and spent all Spring having their “VJs” stand in front of bikini clad “spring break-ers.” So, as you can tell, my sources are a far cry from credible.

“Why didn’t you ever go on super fun Spring Break vacations in crazy beach resort towns?” Well, thank you for asking. You are too kind. The reason I tell myself is: I was too busy and didn’t look that good with my shirt off so, what’s the point? The real reason is: my mother doesn’t like the beach. Ipso facto, no Spring Break at the beach. Not seeing myself fitting in with the overgrown frat boys trying too hard not to ‘look gay’ while dancing to Sisqo (ironic? A little), I never really thought I was missing out. However, my senior year of high school, my mother offered to take me and a friend out on a spring break trip to Key West, Florida. (I know what you’re thinking “My mother said she would take me…” listen, this is the best I was gonna do.) So in the Spring of 2005, my buddy Andrew and I joined my parents for a trip to Key West, Florida.

For those of you that haven’t been to Key West, let me sum it up for you. It’s the Southernmost point in the US (sexy, I know), it has tons of Key Lime Pie, Jimmy Buffets original Margaritaville, and has the most gay bars per capita in the country. Move over San Francisco. This was obviously going to be a memorable trip.

There are lots of stories that I could tell about our pathetic wonderings through Key West that include but are not limited to, getting whistled at as we walked past open-patio gay bars at 2 in the afternoon. However, I’m going to focus my attention on one particular story of Andrew and I attempting to fit into the caricature that was Spring Break culture.

Not old enough to drink and not caring enough to try to do so underage (again, we fit in so well there) Andrew and I took to the beach for casual sport. Now – Andrew, much like me, is a socially awkward individual who doesn’t exactly have the body of a supermodel. We’re not lepers by any means but like Mike Birbiglia would put it “we could really put the brakes on an orgy.” Being the popular teens that we were, we found a spot of open water and starting tossing friz. Yep. Not football, not volleyball, but a Frisbee (aka: Chick Magnet 2k5).

The spectacle of two former ‘Magic: The Gathering’ players tossing friz in the ocean kicked off and we couldn’t have been more content. Before too long, a cluster of young ladies started to drift near us. They weren’t doing so intentionally, the beach is only so big and there’s a lot of people there. The next thing you know Andrew and I’s radars both went off simultaneously and the adolescent boy parts of my brain began churning. I needed to come up with a plan to get them to talk to us (a lot of boys my age would have had loftier goals but I like to keep things realistic). Via eye contact and primitive forms of non-verbal communication, Andrew and I agreed that we needed to plot some sort of pursuit of these feminine creatures. This point in my life was probably the closest I’ve ever been to feeling like the jungle cats on the Discovery Channel. I was on the hunt. The 17 year old high school version of the “hunt” anyway.

Once we’d realized that neither of us knew sign language and our combination of impromptu base-coach style signals weren’t getting us any closer to the girls, we set the Frisbee game aside and joined up for a meeting. The suave geniuses that we were, we decided that our best option (given context and tools at hand) was the patented “throw our Frisbee in their vicinity and start conversation upon retrieval” trick. Perfect.
Trajectories being as they were, it was going to be Andrew throwing and me retrieving. I would have preferred otherwise, fancying myself a better thrower than talker, but that wasn’t what life had in store. So we got into position, took a breath and Andrew let the Frisbee go. It was a good throw, nearly perfect. It flew just over my head and I gave my best fleeting attempt at catching it, (thank you drama class) letting it fly over my head. I watched it soar over the waters of the Atlantic and enter the no-fly zone surrounding the giggling girls on their boogie boards. I felt like the kids from The Sandlot watching the ball fly over the fence into The Beast’s yard. Except in this case, The Beast wasn’t a drooling, blood thirsty St. Bernard but instead three young blonde girls in bikinis. To this day I’m not sure which is more terrifying.
I took a deep breath, about to make my way into enemy territory as I waited for the Frisbee to land. As it made it’s decent directly in the middle of pack, it caught one last gust of wind. A dreadful, evil wind of fate that turned Andrew’s perfect lady-baiting toss into a mechanized weapon of social destruction. The two of us watched, jaws dropped, as WHACK! The Frisbee flew right into the forehead of the furthest, and most ill fated of the gals. I was frozen, it was my job to go talk to them but I wasn’t expecting First-Aid to be part of the conversation. There was a brief moment where the 6-year old inside of me said, “Hide!” but in the expanse of the ocean, you don’t have a lot of stealth options. That, and the girls were already looking at me. Shit!

I turned to Andrew and said that only thing I could think of, “Fuck no!  You’re doing this!” Typically, this would be an argument, but Andrew knew the consequences of his actions and, head hung low, he waded his way through the water and into the zone of angry girls. All I could do was mutter a soft “good luck” as he walked past.

I watched from my post as my dear friend sacrificed himself for the good of the cause. Hoping that it would be a quick execution and already making plans for what we were going to do next (because we obviously couldn’t stay here), what I witnessed was, in a word, miraculous.The combination between noisy beach ambience and the distance between me and the conversation, I couldn’t hear what was being said, but I could see Andrew talking and the girls smiling. He had them smiling! I couldn’t believe it! It may be my memory doing some slight dramatization but I believe there was also at least one small girl giggle in there. (Oh, the sound of a distant girl giggle. Nirvana to the 17-year old boy). Anxious to congratulate my hero and meet our new beach pals, I started wading towards them. As I made my first step, the faces of the girls went blank. Smiles lost, giggles relegated to the past tense. What the hell did he do? He had them going, the Frisbee trick was working despite the ultimate fuck up. The look on Andrew’s face was clear. “Aw damn. I guess we’re done now.” He turned around and made his way back to me. His face as ghostly pale as the rest of his un-tanned torso.

Like the losing team boarding the bus home, we walked up the beach and he explained:

“I opened with a joke and they were laughing. Things were going well.” He began.

“I noticed. I was impressed.”

“Luckily that one girl wasn’t bleeding or anything.”

“Of course.”

“Then I wasn’t sure what to say so I told them what we were doing.”

“… whatta ya mean?”

“I told them that we threw the Frisbee towards them so that we could go over and talk to them.”

“What?! Why the hell would you tell them that! Never lay your cards out on the table!” I said to him, as if I had any idea how to talk to girls. Lest we forget, I made Andrew go through with my part of the plan to begin with.

“Yeah, chicks don’t like to hear that.”

As we walked dejectedly towards downtown, I realized why I wasn’t really much of a Spring Break-er. Wasn’t really my thing. But then I found a place that served Key Lime Pie on a stick covered with chocolate. So, I can’t say it was all bad.

- dc

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