My kids are enjoying Spring Break this week, which is great for me too because I don’t have to nag them to get their homework done, or get out of bed so they won’t miss their bus, or practice lines for their play about how important teeth are, or any of the other million things I have to nag them about that makes school more exhausting for me now than when I actually went to school myself. Seriously, my parents never had to do any of this shit. I did all my homework in school because I was bored out of my mind and had nothing better to do, at least until I discovered the joys of mentally undressing classmates.
It won’t be long, of course, before my kids will want to participate in more traditional Spring Break activities, such as drinking liquor out of a stranger’s belly-button, destroying a motel room, and vomiting on a cop’s shoes. Ah, Spring Break, that wonderful time in a young adult’s life when they compete with each other to see who came come down with the worst case of alcohol poisoning/chlamydia. It’s a time of innocence, of wonder, of body-racking dry-heaves.
Actually, I wouldn’t know. For all the partying I used to do, I never did a traditional Spring Break. Most people, when they see young Spring Breakers hurling trash cans through shop windows and such, think to themselves, “Ahhh, they’re college students. They’re just blowing off a little steam.” The implication is that the students have spent the better part of a year with their noses in textbooks, and now it’s time to cut loose with some binge drinking and public nudity.
And that may be why Spring Break never appealed to me. I acted like I was on Spring Break year round. If anything, I should’ve gone to the fucking library for a week each April. The closest I came to a Spring Break was not very close at all: I spent a week in Springfield, Illinois and bought pot from a cop in uniform.
That may require a bit of explanation (a lot, in fact, if you happen to be a member of law enforcement). In my sophomore year of college, I still lived in the dorms. So when Spring Break rolled around, I needed to do something because the dorms were closed. I would have preferred to stay there, actually, because it would have been pleasant to get loaded all the time without feeling guilty about not going to class. But I had to go somewhere, and that somewhere was likely to be at home with my parents who were totally uncool in that they didn’t allow fornication, flagrant pot smoking, or shotgunning beers for breakfast.
But a friend came up with an alternative plan. That friend was named Bullshit Bob, and we spent a lot of time getting drunk and high together. “Hey, my parents own a trailer on a lake out in the country. We could load up on beer and weed, go fishing during the day, throw parties at night… It’ll be a blast!”
Now Bullshit Bob suffered from a condition my girlfriend at the time called “unfortunate looks”. He was also hilariously inept with the ladies, so it was highly unlikely that any party he threw was going to have actual human females in attendance,and because of that, the parties would probably wind up being four guys playing poker until someone was shitfaced enough to decide to swim across the lake, and the resulting trip to the ER for hypothermia. But that sounded fine to me because my girlfriend was going to be at home with her mom, and a week of alcohol and drug abuse beat the hell out of a week of trying to sneak smokes at my parents’ house.
The first official day of Spring Break, Bullshit Bob’s parents drove into town and picked us up. The first sign of trouble was when Mrs. Bob asked us, “So, what’re your plans for this week?” Bullshit Bob shot me a warning look and said something non-committal. When we stopped for gas a couple of hours later, I asked Bob about this question.
“You asked your parents about the trailer, right? You told me it was all set up.”
“Well,” started Bob, “if I would have asked over the phone, they would’ve said no. But now that you’re here, they’ll be forced to let us use the trailer. They won’t want to ruin your Spring Break.”
This sounded reasonable, although I remained concerned, and with good reason as it turned out.
“I’m sorry, Greg,” said Mr. Bob about an hour after we arrived in Springfield, “I don’t want to ruin your Spring Break, but Bob never cleared that with us. The answer is no. But you are more than welcome to spend Spring Break here with us.” Just like that, I went from a week of irresponsible drinking in a trailer by a lake to a week of irresponsible drinking in a car with strangers.
Because Bullshit Bob didn’t seem too upset about the failed plans at all. Instead, he quickly lined up parties with his friends, all of whom washed dishes at a local Sizzler. They all smelled of detergent and had red, raw hands. I had plenty of time to notice things like this because no one had their own place, and all of our illicit drinking and pot-smoking took place in cars as we drove around Springfield.
This, needless to say, was not a whole lot of fun for me, and so I urged Bullshit Bob to be a little more social. “Aren’t there any real parties going on?” I asked.
This resulted in an evening spent at the apartment of a 450 pound psychopath named RC. “Hey, fellas,” he said as we walked in. “I hope you like playing poker, and I hope you brought a lot of money!” My relief at being able to have a few drinks indoors was immediately offset by RC’s behavior the second we sat down at the table. “NO FUCKING CHEATING!” he screamed as he slapped a revolver on the table. Instead of laughing, Bullshit Bob and his other friend were quick to placate RC.
“No, no, of course not, RC. Everyone knows not to fuck with you.”
There was a moment of silence as everyone looked at me. RC’s look clearly said, “I will shoot you if you cheat”, while Bob and his friend sported a look that said, “He’s not fucking around. He will shoot you if you cheat.”
I bet rarely and lost every hand for two hours, all the while trying to signal a retreat to Bullshit Bob who was not receiving the message. Finally, I decided to feign illness. “Guys,” I said as I came out of the bathroom. “There’s something wrong with my stomach. I think I need to go to the hospital.”
“What’s wrong?” asked RC.
“My stomach hurts like hell, and I think I’ve got an ulcer.”
“Oh, shit, you don’t need a fucking hospital. I’ll fix you up!” RC went into the kitchen piled high with empty beer cans and dishes (where were those dishwashers when you needed them). He came back out with a tumbler glass, a bottle of Southern Comfort, and a bottle of Pepto Bismol. “I get that shit all the time, just drink this.” He handed me a 50/50 mix of whiskey and Pepto.
I hemmed and hawed, and muttered things about alcohol being bad for ulcers, when finally RC boomed, “You disrespectin’ my hospitality?” I drank the tumbler in one giant gulp and sat down to play more cards. We were there for two more hours before we left.
The next day, we finally ran out of weed. Bullshit Bob discussed the situation with a friend of his sneaking a smoke behind the Sizzler. I overheard the friend say, “I can call Fivey for you.” Bob quickly agreed that a call to Fivey was the thing to do, and in no time we were on our way to meet Fivey and get some weed.
By now, I had pretty much given up on having fun and sat staring out the window, watching Springfield, Illinois roll by, a non-stop panorama of strip malls, gas stations, and unassuming one story homes. Finally, something seemed out of the ordinary, and I began to actually think about what I was seeing. “Uhhh, Bob, why are we pulling into a police station?”
“Listen, don’t freak out, but we’re going to buy from a cop,” said Bob as he turned into an alley behind the police station. “Be cool.”
I was not cool. I was fucking freaking out. This was not Spring Break. This was not fun. This was tantamount to driving up to a state prison, asking to be let in, and then shooting a guard in the face for good measure. I started to let Bullshit Bob know how I felt about the situation in no uncertain terms when a uniformed cop opened a door and approached the car.
“Hey,” he said. “Bob, right? Ok, here’s how we’re going to do this…” As he said this, he leaned in the car, dropped a bag of weed into Bob’s lap, and palmed the money Bob had ready. “I’m going to point over there like I’m giving you directions. You’re going to pull out, go around to the front of the building and park. Go inside, ask for an employment packet, then leave.”
I guess the subterfuge was necessary in case someone who gave a rat’s ass about a cop dealing weed from the evidence locker suddenly appeared, but there didn’t seem to be anyone else interested in anything we were doing. When we parked up front, I was volunteered to go ask for the employment packet, which suited me fine because I was convinced that a Special Anti-Narcotics, Anti-Moron Task Force was about to swoop down and arrest anyone within 50 yards of the car where Bob sat in the driver’s seat, poking through the bag of weed with his index finger.
“Hi, I… uh… I want to be a cop,” I said to the lady behind the glass window.
“That’s nice,” she said. We stood looking at each other for a long, awkward moment. “Would you like an employment packet?”
“Oh, yeah. Sure, thanks,” I stammered.
She reached to her right, picked up a folder full of paperwork and stuck it through the slot, but not before giving me a critical once over. “Good luck,” she said in a tone that clearly meant, “You have no shot in hell at ever becoming a cop.”
The highlight of my Spring Break came on the drive home. As we sat in the back of Bob’s parent’s car, tooling along a typically straight rural Illinois highway, I noticed a car swerving erratically up ahead. As we pulled even with it, I noticed the driver was steering with a knee as he struggled to light a three foot bong. I nudged Bob and we both broke out into laughter as the driver coughed up what looked to be a lung-busting hit. “Jesus,” I thought, “That’s almost as stupid as buying weed from the cops.”
But not as stupid as going to Springfield, Illinois for Spring Break.