Like apple pie and voting against your interests, getting wasted in a foreign city during spring break is an American tradition. Girls and boys descend on Cancun, Rome, and Panama Beach City, Florida, a.k.a. PBC. They think they will make happy memories and find love, but most of the time, they end up humiliated and/or have terrible sex. As a new crop of college students prepare for the horrific ritual, we asked some of our favorite writers and friends to share their worst spring break experiences.
The Deadly Flower Urchin
During my senior year of high school, a bunch of my boarding school friends and I went to someone's ridiculously expensive house in Punta Mita, Mexico. We planned to get really fucked up and fuck each other the whole time. Picture this: three football players, two undercover lesbians, two really hot dumb straight girls, and enough tequila to kill a herd of horses. The first day we were all sitting on the beach. Nearly everyone had taken off their clothes to run into the water. We were all standing there, pushing each other with the optimism of kids who hadn't seen how life could go wrong yet. I was putting on SPF 60 sunscreen because I'm as white as they come, when my friends beckoned me into the water. I relented and began my descent into the sea. I was up to my calves, maybe ten inches into the water, when I stepped on a poisonous sea urchin. I later found out it was the deadly flower urchin. A lifeguard removed me from the water, took one look at my foot and leg, and said, "Joder," which means fuck in Spanish. This mess ended with my entire leg going purple, the lifeguard using a bottle of tequila to sterilize my foot, and the slow, painful extraction of ten spikes from my foot. (They kept breaking apart and had to be dug out with a knife, which the lifeguard also cleaned with tequila.) My blood was so thin from the alcohol, the poison had a hard time attacking my vital organs. I only lived because I was wasted.
My Lizzie McGuire Fantasy
My junior year abroad I went backpacking with my friend Rosie*. After visiting London, Paris, and Berlin, we ended the trip in Rome. I had a lot of sex, but I wanted to meet a lover in Europe, like Lizzie McGuire did in The Lizzie McGuire Movie. One night, I walked around the city alone, looking for a homo on a moped. In the grocery store, I noticed a hot Italian looking at me through his Harry Potter glasses. When I walked outside, it started raining. The hot guy walked ahead of me, holding an umbrella. He stopped, turned, winked at me, and then kept on walking. Was he old school cruising me? I wondered. A few seconds later, he stopped again. He tilted his umbrella toward me and motioned for me to get under it. He was old school cruising me! I hurled toward him. He put his arm around me, licked my ear, and whispered in Italian. I loved it. I was Lizzie McGuire for a hot second. That is until he asked me to buy him a leather jacket.
This was some rip-off tourist scheme! I told him to fuck off. I was just a college student looking for a romantic one night stand. I was way too broke to act like his sugar daddy. He apologized and then bought me an entire pizza and two bottles of wine and made out with me in an alley behind a Louis Vuitton store. In return, I agreed to let him fuck me the next night. After all, that is what I wanted to find in Rome.
The following evening, I boarded the bus. As we headed towards his house, he received a phone call—from his American boyfriend. I realized he had an American fetish. I told him to forget about taking me home. I jumped out of the bus in front of the Leonardo Da Vinci museum. "You will not be fucking my American ass!" I yelled. He chased after me and ran his hand along my happy trail. "I don't fuck guys with boyfriends!" I yelled. "But when in Rome?" he argued. I sighed. I let him make out with me on the steps for a few minutes, but then my Catholic guilt kicked in. His poor boyfriend! I told him to screw himself and then scrammed. I haven't returned to Rome since.
Losing My Passport
I think it just sounds disastrous because of what could've happened, but this was back before the US was trying to kick out Mexicans and build a wall. I left my passport in the hotel room on the dresser, and it was gone when we came back. My friend Rosa took hers with her everywhere because she worried it'd get stolen. I said the hotel was a better place to keep it because you could get mugged. She had a lot of "I told you so's." But, whatever, it was spring break. We figured we'd sort it out later.
We went out and drank a lot at one of those terrible MTV parties, and Rosa fell on some rocks near the water. We tried to get a lifeguard or paramedic, but they didn't seem to exist. She was gushing blood all over. We wandered around, and some lady pointed us to a makeshift ER that was mostly full of kids who drank too much, were dehydrated, and/or had alcohol poisoning. Rosa got fixed up there. For the rest of the trip, she had a bandaged leg and refused to go near the water.
On the way home, I had to go to the US consulate in Cancun's airport to fix my passport situation. I was directed to this little room with some dude behind a desk who asked me seemingly aggressive questions to see if I was really American. He was super intense at first, but he eventually stamped my paper. He joked with me and said I'd actually have to prove I wasn't American because it was so obvious.
Looking back, I wish I could've recorded the whole thing.
The Night Guards of PCB
It was spring break in college, and I was the only underage girl in my group of five. We were all staying in one room at an allegedly fun party hotel in Panama City Beach, Florida. The first day of our trip, two girls I knew from school were puking on the beach, so I walked them back to their room down the hall from mine. I put them to bed. They vomited on their pillows, and I cleaned them up. I helped myself to one of their beers as payment for my kind service and headed back out. Then I got stopped in the hall by two security guards who saw my underage wristband. After they yelled at me for awhile and weirdly made me stand with my back against the wall like I was in jail, they made me take them to my hotel room. They said they'd call the cops on me if I didn't dig through all four of my 21-year-old roommates' suitcases and dump out every single bottle of liquor they'd packed for the week. I obeyed them, sobbing while the guards yelled at me. They took the beer and unopened bottles for themselves. I was 20. I had no money, and my boyfriend had to FedEx me money from Wisconsin overnight so I could pay my roommates back for the liquor I poured down the tub. When I arrived home, my boyfriend dumped me because because he realized I wasn't mature enough for him.
Literally Making Love in the Club
My sophomore year in college, I went to the Bahamas with a group of girlfriends. It's a small world, and we ran into a group of guys from school. There was this one guy—let's call him Bentley since he had a very fancy, rich boy name—who was super cool. We had the best spring break romance. I still reminisce about it. We literally fell in love in in the club as "Make Love in This Club" played! (We also eventually made love in the club.) We got kicked out of clubs, and rolled around making out in the sand, and looked at sharks, and drank out of coconuts, and I was so into him. Like after Sandy fell in love with Danny in Grease, things got weird when we returned to school. It turned out he was in love with another girl. I was left with my memories and a broken heart.
*Name has been changed.