SPRING BREAK ON THE GULF COAST
By Ruth Minshull
The shuffling pace, the soft voices, the gentle laughter of the snowbirds are suddenly overshadowed by a new rhythm.
The beat picks up; the streets, walkways, condos and fast-food eateries all throb to a quickened pulse.
Teens tool around in open cars singing, laughing, calling to each other.
Supermarket aisles are jammed with carts, each surrounded by a pod of boys or a giggle of girls (never couples). The carts are half-filled with beer and soft drinks. Lengthy conferences take place about other items: chips, snacks, frozen meals, soups—the fare of non-cooks.
Low-flying planes pass overhead towing banners that tout the merits of various hangouts. The ice cream truck slowly works its way along, blaring tinny music that punishes the ear with its discordant screech.
Meanwhile the beaches begin to undulate with clusters of bare-chested boys (wearing the mandatory knee-length trunks) tossing around balls as they call out husky jeers. At the same time, bikini-clad girls (three or four together) stroll by. The two genders appear to studiously ignore each other—but the observant eye will note that there’s a lot of checking out going on.
Later, the trolling will be fruitful; they’ll find ways to hook up. Because, of course, that’s what it’s all about. Connecting.
Universities in Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Ohio and Tennessee have spewed out their charges. There’s a week of freedom ahead.
And it’s party time!
As darkness replaces the brilliant sun, groups start to amass—in nightspots, in condos, on the beaches. The noise level reaches a new pitch; bursts of laughter increase; festivities heat up and rock on through the night.
Now and then the shrill scream of a siren pierces the thrumming beat.
The beefed-up police force is very visible, very busy. Cruisers patrol the streets, trying to anticipate the inevitable problems. There will be countless tickets written for speeding, assorted traffic violations and DUIs. There will be accidents. Chances are high that one young man will lose his life while trying to climb from one condo balcony to another. This happens nearly every year. Don’t ask me why it is cooler to arrive by balcony than by stairway. To comprehend it, you’d have to be under 25 and under the influence.
Spring break time has arrived on the Florida coast. New batches of celebrants will be coming in weekly until early April.
Winter is over, and it’s time for the oldsters to pack up their slippers and go home.
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© 2009 by Ruth Minshull