Thursday, March 16, 2006

Back from Spring Break


If only I had some witty, fascinating tales from Spring Break in Port Aransas to recount…but alas, I do not.

There is no fresh take to put forth on the topic of drunken teenagers, bead-offering boys, and stupid girls looking to party and flash their tits.

Spring break is one of those events that never changes. The people don’t change. The booze doesn’t change. The revved-up engines trolling up and down the beach don’t change. It’s the worst written ongoing trash novel with no final chapter, a very weak prologue and a climax that never happens. Am I as critical as I sound? Not really. When I was their age, I never did the spring break thing. This is all new to me as of the last few years and I’m able - in my own way - to appreciate the chaotic nature of it all. It can be a moderately fascinating event to observe in ten minute increments.

Jeanne adores the beach and I loathe the sun, but when you love somebody, you make concessions and learn, through their eyes, to see the beauty of stuff you wouldn't normally enjoy. (Like last night, when Jeanne watched and enjoyed the Doctor Who premiere on SciFi with me; she’s seen those eps numerous times already - without commercials - and yet she indulged me for another two hours.)

I’ve learned to enjoy the beach, so long as I don’t have to bake my skin. You’ll always be able to spot me amidst the tanned ones, because I’m the pale guy wearing black shorts, a black T-shirt, Doc Marten boots, a hat and sunglasses. But there’s an even better chance you won’t see me in the sunlight at all - I prefer to sleep ‘til one or two, and when I arise, start drinking Pina Coladas, watch a movie in the room, hit the hot tub and then when the sun starts setting, the sand and surf seem like a logical destination. The beach at night is kinda sorta rockin’ in its own silly way.

My coolest spring break story isn’t much of a story at all – it’s really more of an encounter. On our first night, Jeanne and I strolled up and down the beach, chatting up the occasional thug or thugette, making comments to each other and taking general notes that will be used for nothing. Eventually we came upon a group of kids who had a really nice fire going. They seemed pretty benign - one of them was playing a guitar - and they invited us to sit down. And so we did.

Bob, Kyle, Michelle, Stephanie, Jim and Ben were not your ordinary spring break revelers. They were kids who had some smarts on display and some thoughts going on and they were unafraid to show it. This was first evidenced by Kyle asking if we’d be interested in hearing him play some Dylan on the guitar. YES! A kid who not only knows who Bob is, but actually likes him and can play his music!?!?! As time moved forward, it became apparent these kids not only had good taste in pop culture, but they had ambitions and dreams and ideas of their own. Despite being on spring break, they weren’t living just for the moment, they were actively thinking about tomorrow. And speaking of tomorrow, we enjoyed their company so much that we went back the following night and hung out with them a second time. It was also a huge plus that they found the whole titties and beads thing to be as laughable as we did.

It turned out that these kids ranged in age from only 17 to 19(!), are from Dripping Springs, TX and the guys have a band called Sixes and Eights. They’ve already recorded a 6-track demo of which I got to hear a few snippets on an iPod, and near as I could glean, it was some really inventive, creative tuneage. After Jeanne went back to the room, I ended up hanging with them ‘til close to dawn. It was time well spent and I often joke around and say “These kids today…”, but if I’d been half as focused and optimistic at that age, I might’ve done more with my life a whole lot sooner.

Meeting them gave me a little more hope for the future than I usually have. I want to believe the future is in safe hands, but that’s not always apparent. Seeing these kids also made me realize how much Jake is going to grow and change and yes, impress me, over the next five years – hell, he’s changed so much in just the last year, that I’m often amazed at the person I see developing on a daily basis.

Heck, if he decides to play a musical instrument, maybe someday Sixes and Eights will have an opening in the band and he can join them. I’d much prefer that to seeing him heading for the beach on spring break with a bag full of beads and titties on the brain.