I remember watching bouncing bodies and frantic DJ’s on “MTV Spring Break” when I was a teenager. It was set year after year in various alluring, or at least warm, locales that enticed the body with promises of smooth skin, limber sex, plenty of alcohol and strange pills in a rainbow of colors. It was billed as the classic spring break, evolving as the standard spring getaway for a generation of television viewers. It seems that no one knew what spring break might have been before Downtown Julie Brown and a posse of hip-hop and pop stars descended out of helicopters and onto a makeshift stage plopped into the middle of the beach; there just was no “before.”
My personal spring breaks seemed continually bleak in comparison. By the time the actual break arrived I was usually burned out with exhaustion, Foucault and trips to the gym to try to pump some muscle into my hunched, keyboard compatible body. Where were the shrill blondes, the frantic heterosexuality, the music (which was later sold 7 discs for a penny with nothing more to buy, ever)?
When considering lost spring break potential, I often think of a line from a certain movie, where a character is narrating a friend’s erratic behavior. The character reveals that her friend is continually counting her kids, continually looking for the keys in her pocket, double and triple checking her pocketbook, then realizing, in fact, she has everything in order. The character surmises that it is a syndrome related to missing high school prom, a never ending haunt that stems from missing a particular rite of passage. Will missing spring break-MTV style cause a similar, unending longing within my psyche? Will I one day, an old man, break into an MTV bump and grind in the beer aisle of Safeway, shouting “KMF is gonna rock you” as they drag me wailing out of the store? Oh, I hope not.
For this reason, today, I justify spring break-PSU style. It is defined by the students who I spoke with in the weeks leading up to spring break 2002. They actually inspired me. They were planning to volunteer their supposedly wild and youthful hours to needy local charities instead of to Anheuser-Busch. They were going to spend capital-Q, quality time with their sweet children. They were going to visit their aging parents, who they wish they could see more of. They were going to catch up on the reading they had missed in the previous two quarters and view a local art exhibit. And, yes, they were going to sneak down to the coffee shop and just sit and sit and sit and let their knowledge serve the city.
For myself, I have re-examined the dream of golden, sandy debauchery punctuated by vomit and realized it was never mine in the first place. And as I grow older, I calculate the equation of possibility for spring break-MTV style and, thankfully, it becomes ever more unlikely. The way I figure it, the possibility of graduate school grows in direct comparison to the lessening prospects of seeing myself burned by the sun with a coterie of well-meaning, if not particularly bright, “Friends”-inspired friends. So, this year I am looking to those students I really admire, and I am inviting myself to spring break-PSU style.