Spring Break, Eighties Style

Scan“Don’t crush the groceries!” I yelled as my teenage son smashed the car top carrier lid closed. With everything for our family spring break trip packed, we piled into our salt-hazed minivan and hit the road.

I wondered if all this rigmarole was worth it for a few days of so-called vacation. I’d worked myself into a pre-trip frenzy, making lists, doing laundry, kenneling the dog, getting the oil changed, packing, double checking, and packing some more.

All that hassle just to spend military leave time stuffing ourselves like sardines into our minivan for eleven long hours. And once we get there, we’ll be unpacking, making beds, cooking, cleaning and managing the kids just like we always do. Same work, different location.

Is Spring Break really worth all this hassle?

As we passed through the Naval Station Newport base gate and headed south, I recalled an easier time. It was 1986, and I used my new credit card to buy a Spring Break trip with my college roommates. I was broke, but all those Citibank sign up ads around campus promised a $1,000 credit limit, and all I had to do was pay a little bit off each month. “Wow, what a great deal!” I thought in my youthful ignorance.

After curling our bangs, my roommates and I boarded a bus, chartered by Sigma Epsilon Fraternity, headed from chilly Ohio to sunny Daytona Beach, Florida. The frat brothers thoughtfully included a six-pack of Little Kings Cream Ale in the trip package price, just in case the passengers got thirsty on the fourteen-hour ride south.

“Ohmigod,” my roommate exclaimed halfway through Tennessee, “like, I totally can’t find Lisa anywhere!” “No way!” “Way!” They didn’t know that I’d crawled up in the overhead luggage compartment to sleep off those Little Kings.

On the day of our arrival, I promptly burned myself to a crisp laying out on the beach. Later at a Bud Light Belly Flop contest at the motel pool, I tried to hide the pain, sipping wine coolers with my roommates while dancing to “I’ll stop the world and melt with you” – a la Molly Ringwald in “The Breakfast Club” — in our stone washed denim and Wayfarers. We took note of one particular college boy moonwalking in checkered Vans, red Birdwell Beach Britches, and a blonde mullet. He was the kind of cool guy who probably drove a Camero.

The loudspeaker blared as he climbed the high dive, “Next we have Mad [expletive deleted] Mike from University of Maryland!” We cheered with the crowd, but in the end, his svelte torso was no match for the linebacker from Mississippi State with a gut tinged pink from multiple flawless flops.

By the time we boarded the bus for our return to Ohio a week later, I had sloughed off the first three layers of my skin, lost my Jellies shoes, survived on happy hour nachos, been totally ignored by Mad [expletive deleted] Mike, and maxed out my $1,000 credit limit, totally unaware that I would be paying off the debt for the next eight years.

And it was totally worth it.

There was something special about the Eighties. Was it the big hair? Orange Julius? Hackey Sacks? Mr. T? New Wave music? Shoulder pads? Hawaiian pizza? The Cosby Show? McDLTs? The Sprinkler Dance? Tri-color pasta salad? Parachute pants? Boom boxes? Frosted eye shadow? Deely-bobbers? Alf? Fried potato skins? A carefree state of mind?

Whatever it was, the Eighties was fun. A lot of fun.

“Honey,” I asked my husband as we entered the New Jersey Turnpike, “find that Eighties radio station, would you?” The kids groaned, and began arguing over whether we were getting lunch at Wendy’s or Chick-fil-A, but I leaned back in my seat, put on my sunglasses and said, “I think this might turn out to be our best Spring Break trip ever.”

Like, totally.

Scan 2

I found these in my basement. Note the girl in the red two-piece, or is it a one-piece? And that’s Mad [Expletive Deleted] Mike in the long red trunks with the mullet. That’s me in the cool faux Vuarnet shades – you can see my skin sloughing around my neck. Turns out, guys are not into that kind of thing. The last photo is a party on our motel balcony — Good times!

Scan 1

These are my Miami of Ohio college chums, looks like they’re doing the Van Halen Jump! That’s me piled on the bed with my roomies and their boyfriends – notice my stone washed jeans and shoulder pads! Ah, to be young and stupid again!

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Comments: 8

  1. kerbey May 5, 2014 at 5:40 pm Reply

    You know he drove a Camaro, a bitchin’ one. And to answer your question: yes, it was the Orange Julius at the mall caddycorner to the now-defunct Montgomery Wards. It was not only Hackey Sacks, but boys in purple CORDUROY OP shorts playing hackey sacks. It was mullets one day and Flock Of Seagulls bangs the next. It was also Jellies, but my mom wanting me to wear pantyhose to church with my jellies. As if. That didn’t even go with my Esprit top. Of course, it was the Sprinkler Dance! You made me laugh at tri-color pasta salad. I can visualize a pizza buffet with that, and my friends and I rejecting it in lieu of Slim Fast and another round of Jane Fonda workouts. And yes, it was also frosted eye shadow, purple and pink, underneath your seductive Vuarnets, that hopefully smelled like Aqua Net near your ears, or Aussie Scrunching Spray.

    • Lisa Smith Molinari May 6, 2014 at 11:45 am Reply

      OMG you just described my life in the 80s! I had that eye shadow, and the Aussie Scrunching spray! My OP shorts were kelly green and I wore them with a semi preppy polo with a kelly green collar and little strawberries printed on it. My best friend worked at the Carvel Ice Cream right beside Orange Julius. Classic!

  2. Kelly Truitt March 19, 2014 at 3:36 pm Reply

    I was born in the 80′s but I looooved this post – It feels like this every time we leave base and visit “home”…is it even worth it? lol. One strange thing…I’ll stop the world was legit playing on the radio while I read this – weird…. :)

  3. energywriter March 19, 2014 at 8:55 am Reply

    Loved it. Great story. Left a comment. sd

  4. energywriter March 19, 2014 at 8:54 am Reply

    Loved it! Great memories.
    Along those lines I’m glad I didn’t go to college in the 60s. By going in the 90s I received a better education – and spring break was just a chance to catch up on homework. But, that’s old age talking.

  5. Bob March 19, 2014 at 8:26 am Reply

    Nailed it!

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