I spent my Spring Break in the movie cliché of South Beach, Miami. It was hot, sunny and ten thousand miles away from the drama and snow of UAlbany. In short, it was brilliant. On the surface everything was golden, but like the wind on the beach disguised the harsh rays of the Florida sunshine, I soon saw a darkness beneath all the glittering lights of the strip.
Should we have gone to Liv, a club I am assured is supposed to be one of the best in the country, I (as a girl) would have gone in for free. My male counterparts would have had to shell out $100 each. They would have been given drinks credit for their trouble, but this would have quickly been taken up by the females inside who were all challenging each other to see who could score the most free drinks. A Brazilian friend of mine assures me that this goes on in her hometown, and I don’t doubt it happens the world over. Miami is not special in this regard. The idea of free entries for girls, whilst expecting men to fork out excessive fees, is a brilliant marketing plan if you insist that men will follow girls anywhere in a desperate bid to score. And they seem to. The world is a meat market. You enter any dance floor, and the ratio is the same: there will be a small collection of girls in the middle of the floor whilst a large gaggle of boys are flocked in groups around the walls watching and judging. The girls are not any better. They’re competitive- hoping for free drinks, for attention, for something to talk about tomorrow during their tan-time.
At what point did we give up on this idea of meeting people to learn something new? Or to make new friends? And I mean real friends, none of this “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” nonsense. When did we give up on this idea of consequence, of morality, of reality? In these hazy smoke-drenched rooms where faceless bodies grind against each other in a bid to feel something, anything, I ask you – what the hell are we doing?
I am no better. I found myself in a sand dune one night, hiding from the beach police with a boy whose name I had long forgotten. I was bored, so I kissed him. They say that a kiss exchanges more germs than you would receive licking a toilet bowl. I once believed a kiss meant something, and that kiss did: it meant I was bored. But what happened to those wonderful kisses with someone you actually care about? What happened to those wonderful love stories we grew up on?
I sound like a sappy sixteen year old, I know. But I feel that if Spring Break was like living in the movies, it was like living in the wrong ones, and I want to hold onto that sappy sixteen year old for as long as possible. I want to think that we all respect ourselves enough to not buy into the meat market. I want to believe we are all still capable of caring and taking responsibility for our actions, as opposed to simply turning them into morbid stories we regret. That is not to condone those stories, for some of the funniest nights are those stories. But sometimes, I worry that we won’t grow out of the meat market and that we’ll forget those romantic tales we grew up on. I say this to boys and girls equally. We all need a little romance from time to time. We all need to care about ourselves as much as we need to care about each other. We are not meat. We are romantics.