As I Was Saying
Secrets of Serving Spring Breakers
By Alan Williamson
A college student, athlete, and all-round popular guy on campus, my nephew Eric has a lot on his plate. I’m not talking about his daily to-do list. I’m literally talking about his plate. At any given moment day or night that plate can be piled high with the high-density food required to fuel the relentless growth and development of a blossoming beefcake.
It was that frightening vision of an insatiable eating machine in our kitchen that first popped into my head when my brother and sister-in-law told us that Eric and nine of his friends would be passing through Fort Lauderdale on their way from Nebraska to the Bahamas for a spring break cruise.
“Of course they can stay with us the day before the cruise,” I assured them. “We wouldn’t have it any other way.” No sooner had I hung up the phone when I immediately began torturing myself with graphic images of the massive amounts of chow their care and feeding would demand.
“What do you think about pizzas?” I asked my wife, going for the obvious no-effort crowd-pleaser.
“We would have to get seven or eight pies,” Sherry pointed out.
She reminded me that my parents and aunt and uncle were also joining us. “That’s going to get expensive and not everyone likes pizza.”
“Then how about subs?” I proposed, cranking out menu ideas like Jay Leno cranks out jokes.
“Same downside,” Sherry countered. “Getting enough to go around will get pricy and not everyone will want a sandwich.”
“So what’s your bright idea?” I shrugged, adopting the taunting tone of voice I use when Sherry rejects two of my ideas in a row.
Secrets of Serving Spring Breakers # 1
“I say we buy a bunch of hamburgers and hot dogs at Costco, throw them on the grill, and make a big pasta salad to go with them,” Sherry announced with an air of sensibility that was unassailable.
“You must have read my mind,” I said in mock wonder. “I was just about to say that.”
Secrets of Serving Spring Breakers # 2
With the food crisis averted, we started doing the math on our sleeping options for 10 college students. The accommodations we came up with went like this:
1 queen-size guest bed for 2 (“The Honeymooner Special”)
1 queen-size fold-out sofa for 2 (“The BFF”)
1 non-fold-out sofa for 1 (“The Rejected Romeo”)
1 family room love seat for 1 (“The Salute to Tiny Asian Woman”)
1 living room love seat for 1 (“The Mini-Me Night of Misery”)
1 air-bed on loan for 1 (“The Blowhard”)
1 carpeted floor for the last 2 out of the bathroom (“The Rug-Sucker”)
Even though we knew that approximately half of our overnight guests would not have a real bed or comfortable alternative, we discovered something irresistibly endearing about college students: they value adventure and new experiences much more than old-fashioned luxury.
Drive 25 hours non-stop in an overcrowded van from Nebraska to Fort Lauderdale? Sign me up!
Go without a shower for two days and suffer the toxic hygiene of people who hadn’t showered in four days? Count me in!
Sleep on the floor in a strange house with my head on a musty duffle bag? Not a problem!
Though their flexibility is undeniably impressive, there is one thing that traveling spring breakers are adamant about having and will not tolerate any excuse in its absence.
Secrets of Serving Spring Breakers # 3
“Do you have any more power outlets?” one of my nephew’s buddies asked despondently.
That question had never come up before in 16 years of living in our home. Before answering, I took a quick look around and saw that every available plug was stuffed with some form of recharging technology – from cell phones and Blackberries to iPods, electronic notebooks and laptops.
“I’ve got a socket open in the laundry room,” I advised helpfully. “I hope this won’t affect our customer satisfaction ranking.”
“I’ll let it go this time,” he sighed.
If we got points taken off for insufficient connectivity, we made most of them back by answering “yes” to the one question spring breakers always ask their adult guardians when there’s no hope of doing it behind their backs.
Secrets of Serving Spring Breakers # 4
“Is it okay if we have a couple of beers on your patio?” my nephew politely asked as the evening wound down.
“As long as everyone’s done driving for the night and you keep the noise down to a dull roar it’s fine with me,” I specified. I wasn’t sure if I came across as “the cool uncle” or a crotchety old-fart with a crossword puzzle waiting for him.
“Thanks Uncle Al,” Eric mumbled gratefully, implicitly accepting my terms and conditions. “And by the way, I just thought you might like to know, some of the guys were talking and they said that for an older guy you look like you’re in pretty good shape.”
Pretty good shape for an older guy. I let the words sink in for a few narcissistic seconds. “Thanks for passing that along, Eric,” I chuckled nonchalantly.
As I said my goodnights, I thought about what a fine, right-minded group of Nebraska kids they were and how they deserved the very best in spring break accommodations and conveniences.
Next year, the economy willing, I’m adding extra beds and electrical outlets. And just to make sure our welcome message is no secret, there will be a banner out on the patio that reads:
Your Low-Budget Bed and Beer Break Before the Bahamas
Alan Williamson is an award-winning writer with 27 years in the field of true fiction (advertising). A practical man who knows that writing for a living is risky going, he has taken steps to pursue a second, more stable career as a leggy super model. Alan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. © 2010 Alan Williamson.