What Your Mother Didn’t Tell You

Party like your dream house just got blown over by a hurricane.

I’m behind the camera.  I think I secretly knew Facebook was coming, even though Zuck was only a 6th grader at the time and the Internet really wasn’t a thing yet.  See, Al Gore was still busy being VP so we had time to make these horrible decisions and still duck under the radar.

The year was 1998. 6 friends decided at 10 p.m. on a Friday night they couldn’t wait for Saturday morning to leave on Spring Break. We piled into 2 cars – one beat up Buick and one even more beat up Ford sedan. We set off, all of us under the age of 21, with a car trunk full of beer (and Zima for me, because I was a total chick who did and still does hate beer), a few clothes (more room for beer), a few pooled dollars and our sights set on a fuzzy description of a rockin beach house on the shore of Panama Beach one of our friends assured us was awesome. We drove that beer over five state lines for the next 22+ hours, rotating driving shifts. We had 2 walkie talkies (no cell phones yet) to talk back and forth between us and were occasionally entertained by a raunchy trucker to break up the monotony.

We arrived in a massive rainstorm mid evening if I remember correctly. Set to party for the next week on our Ohio sourced beer, Zimas and Cuervo. We carted all 800 lbs of beverages along with our bags inside and only then took a moment to survey our surroundings.  It is here I find it hard to describe the magnitude of what we saw.  I’m not sure what everyone else was expecting, but I had hoped it was kind of like a smaller version of the Golden Girls’ house.  A nice open bungalow with an airy lanai upon which we could drink our morning coffees and watch the sunrise, while gentle breezes blew the surf in over the sand and gulls cawed above nearby.  Leave me alone, I was 20 and really really naïve.

Let’s just say my fantasy wasn’t even close.  It wasn’t even a crappy cottage.  One that we could stay in relatively comfortably that provided basic amenities for survival for a bunch of 20 somethings.  This was not it by a longshot.  This was a desolate wasteland.  An outbuilding of a destroyed house that survived a hurricane 10 years prior.   I remember the shower amenity was outside and frankly, I don’t even remember a toilet being there.  I remember A LOT of sand and strewn about furniture that had seen better days and had its own war stories to share.

After some heated debate about said conditions and who knew what about said present condition, 5 of the 6 friends deemed the house uninhabitable and not hospitable to getting drunk nightly.  So, we decided to pack up and head for greener pastures.  The lone friend left behind was pissed we were leaving and refused to come along with us. (I personally never knew what happened to him.  I wasn’t really close to him.  I am assuming he lived and has a very different version of the following story.)  Therefore, we were down one beat up car and had to fit 5 people in one car along with all of our stuff for yet another trip across the state to by chance catch up with some other friends in Daytona Beach.  By chance.

Vast amounts of the above pictured beer and liquor were left as casualties of that decision.  With one trunk, 5 people in a 5 seat Buick sedan, hard choices had to be made.  Sadly, most of the Milwaukee’s Best (aka Beast) were left, as well as most of the pop (who needed that anyways) as we tried to condense everything into one small car.    We drove across the state for another 6 hours hoping to rendezvous with 2 fraternity brothers who had won their spring break trip to Daytona Beach.  Now remember, no cell phones.  We had NO way of contacting them.  All we knew was they were in Daytona at a Holiday Inn and their names.  Yeah, we had their names.  So we had that going for us.

We arrived late that night and headed to A1A Beachfront Avenue (Sorry, couldn’t resist).  We found a pay phone with a phone book.  Yes, I just said those two things, and we looked up the Holiday Inn and on a wing and prayer called and asked for our friend’s room.  The hotel would not put us through because they didn’t know who we were, so we drove down the strip to find contingency plans.  A crappy motel was picked as too crappy to be fully booked and quite possibly in our price range.  As we were driving down the main drag, we noticed someone familiar.  By chance, the friend we were hoping to reach just happened to be walking down the street.  Hanging out of the car like lunatics, we flagged him down.  Miraculously, he told us to come on up to their room and yes, all 5 of us could stay the week with him and his friend.  In their room with 2 double beds and a permanently locked balcony door (because let’s face it, high rise balconies and young idiot spring breakers do not mix).

Elated, we all group hugged and talked about our dramatic trip so far and proceeded to head out on the town.  2 girls, 5 guys.  Makes you cringe now as parents doesn’t it?  About to get shit-faced as best as possible whilst underage in downtown Daytona.  Thank God for stowaway Zima and Beast beer.  And now, one friend of age who helped supply the fun while you hid your underage stamped hand in your pocket.  We were good to go.

The rest of the week was about what you’d expect.  One friend won a belly flop contest.  It was actually pretty freakin freezing, but damn if we weren’t going to wear shorts and flippy floppies on the beach and follow the guys around as they desperately tried to catch each and every wet T-shirt contest available (and no, us ladies did not participate, but really, if I knew what was going to happen to my body, you bet your ass I’d be up there shaking what was apparently a nice set of boobs that, unbeknownst to me, came with an expiration date.  But I digress).  Basically it was bars, bars, and more bars.  Mornings spent sleeping it off.  Afternoons spent replenishing on greasy food as sustenance for the night to come.  Now, at mid-30 something, one night of this would probably kill us, let alone an entire week of it, but we were 20 and invincible.

A few us took a day trip to Universal Studios, whereupon my future husband promptly lost the car keys on the Back to the Future Ride.  Problem was we didn’t notice it until we were headed to the car at the end of the day and, lo and behold, no keys.  Oh and the owner of the car stayed back in Daytona, so we had to bribe the AAA guy to basically make us an $80 key to a car we couldn’t prove belonged to us.  My husband has never quite lived  that one down, but it does make a great story.

At the end of the week, our 2 gracious hosts got on their plane to go home and the remaining 3 guys and 2 girls piled into the teeny tiny Buick (complete with a brand new, very expensive, shiny spare key) and headed back to northern Ohio.  Straight shot.  Squished in the middle almost the whole time.  Sometimes being the skinny bitch had its disadvantages.  They never did let me drive.  I had a bad driving rep even then.

So, there’s my spring break story.  Will I ever let my kids go on Spring Break?  Between this trip and my senior year trip to Cancun, oh hells to the no.  Although, I guess by the time they are 20, I can’t stop them, HOWEVER, I can follow them down to wherever they go and spy on them the whole time.  Hey, at least they’d have cell phones, so 90% of these stories wouldn’t have happened, but me, I’d take my pay phone and beat up Buick memories any day.  Thank God I lived to talk about it.

File this under stories our kids will never hear.  Heck, this may even be the first time our moms are hearing this story.  I’m not quite sure they are ready now, 15+ years later.  Sorry moms, but hey we returned OK!

Disclaimer* This is my recollection of the events.  I’d love to hear from the other 8 people involved as they remember it.  I won’t tag you or mentioned any names for fear your grown up cover will be blown, but you all know who you are.  I hope you have the same fond, hilarious memories that I do, which most of the time are ended with the thought, “God we were stupid!”

#tbt

 

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Getting Old

For the first time the other day, I really felt old.  I was checking out at Kroger, buying my ton and a half of veggies and fruits for my crazy diet.  Which, by the way, since it is now defunct, does anyone want a head of cabbage?  What the heck am I supposed to do with that?  Is sauerkraut hard to make??  It’s the only thing I can think to do with cabbage that at least one of us will eat.

As I was paying, I overhear the tail end of a conversation between two co-workers.  Two girls were talking and must have realized they both attend/attended the same high school.  The younger girl asked when the older girl graduated, to which she replied 1996.  The younger girl was all like, “OMG, that was the year after I was born!”  What the what???  You are old enough to work and you were born when I was a sophomore in high school?  If I had had much worse luck and God truly decided to punish me for my mischievousness, this girl could feasibly be my daughter???  Holy crap!

Then a few days ago, I drove by my alma mater, Bowling Green State University, on my way to take my son to a doctor appointment.  It’s been 12 years since I graduated and I started waxing nostalgic.    Sometimes I really miss those carefree days.  Although, to say college was not stressful would not be fair.  The stress of being an adult and when I was in college is just different.  I remember the killer math and science classes, which almost put a stop to obtaining my useless degree, because as Barbie would say, “Math is hard!”  These were not my forte for sure.   I remember feeling the pressure that at 20 years old, I should have what I want to do for the rest of my life figured out before college ended, which honestly, I didn’t figure out until 6 months ago, and I’m still not sure.

But I do miss the absolute freedom and the ability to be completely self-centered and responsible for only me.  I think of college as a summer camp to life.  All the freedom of an adult, but 1/3 of the responsibilities.  (Yes, I am very lucky and had VERY supportive parents who made the hard decisions and big tuition payments (mostly), but to my credit, I didn’t disappoint them…right Mom and Dad??)  My life consisted of the following decisions:  Skip class and sleep til 11?  Check.  Eat Spaghetti O’s for breakfast?  Check.  Sleep over with your boyfriend who just happens to live one floor down from you in your dorm?  Check!  God it was great.

I miss the days of smoking weed in some random cornfield with my best friend and his roommate, who got all New Agey when getting high.  This was fun because while he wanted to pass the energy ball (read: nothing) between friends and ooo and ahh over the Earth’s aura (read:  lights from Perrysburg), the rest of us were stifling giggles and naming and making out with cornstalks.  PSA:  WEED CAN MAKE YOU STUPID!  I miss having all my friends in one apartment complex, fondly referred to as Melrose, and the Halloween party thrown by my best girlfriends my first year.  Getting totally drunk in our matching couples’ genie costumes for which we totally won the bottle of Absolut for Best Costume, and then recovering the next day with a nice greasy cheeseburger.  If I drank like that now, I’d be in a coma.   Sitting on a couch for the entire day with your best friend watching the crazy Christian channel where everyone got healed and redeemed and you just made fun of the dramatic screaming and jubiliation.  Playing jeopardy so competitively that no one wanted to be your friend afterwards.   Watching endless hours of Golden Girls and realizing that each of your roommates was one of them. Yes.  I was Dorothy, as I have never been the fun one.  Someone, who shall not be named but who now lives in San Fran was Blanche, one very smart nurse was our lovable Rose and my husband fit perfectly as Sophia, the wise-cracking older person who just made fun of the rest of us.  God those were fun days.

College could be hard, but the stress now sucks way more. I have a mortgage, a car payment, a low-paying but comfortable job (therefore little motivation to achieve higher success), an unemployed husband, and a house I desperately want to scour with a magic eraser the size of a car.  I have two kids who are growing up in a world where kindergartners are expected to be able to publish something on-line by the end of that year (seriously, next year’s new standards), where they can’t play alone in the front yard, and bullying has reached new and terrifying levels.  I have no time for anything because dishes are piled in the sink, the kitty litter needs cleaned, and apparently my daughter needs clean underwear every day, and I only have around an hour a night to do it before falling into an exhausted heap in my bed because I’ve spent the evening after getting home from work making dinner, doing homework and catching up with my kids and husband who I haven’t seen all day.  Heck, the only reason I’m typing this is because I am ignoring the dishes in the sink and my husband has been banned from any 50 Shades action tonight because I have my annual check up tomorrow and I don’t want the doctor to get all judgy down there.    Too much?  Sorry.  That, and he just got Black Ops II because, under the guise of “looking at some cool lamps he saw online,” he took us to Target after dinner and just  happened to see it on the shelf, and just happened to suggest it be my Christmas present to him.   Lamps?  Really, was I born yesterday?  It took staring at the Black Ops shelf, a quick tour through Christmasland and then another run up the boy toys aisles before I had to remind him why we were there.  “Lamps honey remember?”   “Oh yeah! umm, uh, yeah…these!  These right here!  I really think these are awesome!” (insert fake enthusiasm here).

So, would I go back to the easy days of college?  No.  I love my life.  With the crazy hard responsibility comes a strong happy marriage, two hilarious and adorable kids, a good chunk of life experience under my belt and a comfortableness with who I am that at 20, I had no idea even existed.  What I do miss was that all my friends were just a stone’s throw away (we used to call our apartment complex Melrose), and are now scattered across the country as well as the sense of freedom and self-centeredness.  Maybe, we could compromise and just meet back for one week a year and relieve the glory days?  Anyone?   How fun would that be?  Though, I am not sure our 30 something bodies could handle all the alcohol and weed, so we might have to cut it back a little.  And close the bar?  Please no, it just messes up my sleep schedule and the kids will still be up at 6 no matter what time I go to bed.  So – maybe some slight adjustments. Hey, I can dream can’t I?

Ah, good times.  I miss you my friends.  This one’s for you.