Growing up in a middle class suburb of Chicago, I knew quite a few kids who were lucky enough to go away for spring vacation. Most of them headed to Florida, except for a few exotic families who went to Mexico. I envied these kids their week in a tropical paradise and the suntans with which they returned to school.
My images of spring break as a child were largely informed by beach movies starring Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello, as well as the classic Where the Boys Are, featuring an ensemble cast that included Frank Gorshin (the Riddler!) and Dolores Hart, who went on to become a nun. (No doubt the near loss of her character’s virginity made an impression.) Those old movies created an image of a somewhat boisterous but mostly innocent revelry, and I coveted all the swimsuit changes the character Gidget made in her eponymous flicks.
I never really had a quintessential spring break experience with sand, sun, drinks, and boys until my first year out of college. A sorority sister and I found a cheap package deal to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, which in the Eighties was primarily a vacation destination for Mexicans. I gamely downed margaritas and flirted with guys in the strangely named bar Carlos O’Brien’s. I learned the essential Spanish (Donde esta los banos?). I got too much sun and Montezuma’s revenge and lived to tell the tale.
Nowadays, my family has the good fortune to go away (usually to Florida) for spring break. We have a wild and crazy time lounging on the beach, fighting over the shower, and watching March Madness on TV. We go to dinner at the ungodly hour of 7 or 8 pm and catch up on must-see movies in the condo. (At least my husband insists that we must see them.)
I’m not too sorry I had to wait until adulthood to enjoy a trip for spring break. It makes me appreciate our family time in the sun that much more.