I’m not going to ask you what your Spring Break plans are. Not that I don’t care. It’s just that I’ve been burned by that question before.
Last week I innocently asked my friend what she would be doing and got smacked down by an elaborate 14-day itinerary: Week 1 was devoted to building houses out of mud for Indonesian orphans and Week 2 to re-acclimating liberated Chinese pandas to their native habitat. Of course, the question got shot back at me, and I had to pause for a second. In truth, my Spring Break plans consist of seeing how many of my parent’s lawn ornaments I can successfully turn into bongs (last year’s flamingo, Brenda, will be hard to beat) and maybe seeing if I can smoke out my mother’s new Labradoodle. But I felt like I couldn’t say just that. So I thought fast and came up with, “I’m gonna work on my novel. It’s about the American Dream.” Almost the same thing. Nice save, K-Frost.
But once I got home, I started to worry. Does it make me a bad person that my Spring Break plans involve freeing my mind instead of endangered pandas and rolling out fatties instead of thatched roofs for little clay houses? “Of course not,” my roommate said, his eyes bleary and red from a long night of smoking. It might have just been the paranoia, but I wasn’t sure I could trust him.
At the same time, I was having trouble coming up with reasons why I should pack my bags and head out to the frontiers of service. How many earthen homes could the cost of my round-trip ticket to Jakarta buy for those poor children? How many joints? Can pandas really readjust when there are people in the forest with them? Would I be helping others or would I simply be helping myself forget that outside of Yale I’m kind of a useless piece of crap?
As I cracked open another bag of Funyuns, I decided that that’s the real problem with Spring Break. Two weeks away from the mother ship is just long enough to burst even the most hardened Yalie’s bubble. Sometime around March 18th, we’re all going to have to face the fact that the weird little place we call “off campus” is actually significantly larger and more important than our ivory tower.
Now that I’ve used ivory tower and bubble, I’m going to have to make up an original metaphor for Yale if I want to keep talking about it. Spring Break rips away the towel we pushed under the door and completely fucks up the intellectual hotbox we’re all baking in. Bet you didn’t see that one coming.
And even though we all know that we’re going to have to come down someday, everybody looks for their own little way to prolong the magic. Like resin hits. Some of us cook up schemes to cram a few more lines into our resumes by inflicting ourselves on Third World innocents; others design internships so they won’t have to go home and face the realization that they’re douche bags.
And then there are those who, like people who huff gas because they don’t have the money for crack, go on tours with a cappella or improv groups. For those of you who have never gone on a tour, don’t worry. It’s okay that you’ve never found yourself bent over a gas pump with a towel over your face, wishing dimebags were called nickelbags. Take all the standard social tensions of campus, and then focus them onto a select group of people who hate each other like they’re a family. Now let the warped awkwardness play out in public performances for paying non-Yalies who think we all pee on each other like in “The Good Shepherd.” Mmm, smells like Premium Unleaded.
So here’s my advice for this year’s Spring Break: Go sober. Not literally! I would never advise going near the ’rents without a full flask and few peyote buttons in case of emergency. But metaphorically, try to detox from Yale’s bullshit. Relax. Remember that you’re still young and all you really want to do is think about sex all the time.
Forget what Laura Mulvey said about patriarchal cinema — go see a movie! Don’t think about the awesome short story you’re going to write about your middle-class neighbors that’ll get you into the Writing Concentration — go over and hang out with them! Learn what it’s like to be a normal person again — it’ll at least make it easier to get them to vote for you later on.
I know kicking a habit can be hard. No, I really do know. But don’t worry: If you find yourself unable to hack the outside, do what you do on the inside to make yourself less awkward. With this in mind, I’ve prepared a little diagnostic thingy for everyone to help them act like real people over the break. See if you can identify a theme:
If you do have productive things scheduled, ruin them with drinking and drugs.
If you’re helping people somewhere, drink with them.
If you’re going abroad, drink things you can’t drink over here.
If you’re going on a tour, start drinking now.
If you’re going on a trip, go tripping.
Have as much sex as you can; that’s what liberated pandas do.
If all else fails, drink more.
And don’t tell me that my suggestions to drink yourself into oblivion or my quest to attain the perfectly altered state via yard decorations are just thinly veiled expressions of my own unwillingness to deal with life outside the Ivy Humidifier. What are you, forty? If you’ve already become so jaded and untrustworthy of your comrades, I think there’s only one thing that can save you. Get yourself to the nearest Wal-Mart, buy a plastic gnome, some rubber bands, aluminum foil, and a pair of scissors. Then put those Yale-honed analytical skills to good use, and kick off your Spring Break the right way right now.
Steven Kochevar would like you to think that he’s cool.