24 March 2011

Catching Up

I understand that Spring Break has come and gone. I know by the glassy-eyed gaze of students still on vacation, though their bodies miraculously sit in class. The irony, of course, is that for most schools "spring break" occurs before spring actually arrives. The idea, therefore, seems to be to start spring early by flying off to someplace tropical, to places where it is always spring.

Spring has always been a time of debauchery, from ancient times to today. The arrival, or anticipation of the arrival, of the planting season brings to mind countless instances of sympathetic magic: fertility rituals which may or may not have proven useful in urging the crops and animals to produce. Nevertheless, mankind seems to have enjoyed pretending that fertility rituals actually induce fertility. It's the thought that counts. More so today, where the main activity of spring break locations is to celebrate fertility, especially in the form of nubile young maidens showing off their wares--though not too many, I suspect, would actually accept sexual partners solely on behalf of a grateful Earth.

I have been opposed to spring break for as long as I can remember. Originally, in my early years of education, all we got was Easter break. Eventually, that was deemed too religious for public schools. Now they have teacher in-service days and let the students stay home to partake in religious rituals, if they or their parents so choose. In fall semesters we get half a week or more to celebrate Thanksgiving, but it occurs too close to the end of the semester and final exams time to be practical. In the spring, however, schools generally schedule the break in the middle of the semester. Without calling it Easter, what excuse do they have? And why an entire week?  The Thanksgiving break need cover only 2 days, or 3 if you generously extend a travel day to students. But spring break? What's the point?

To celebrate the end of winter--actually or virtually--and in that celebration throw off the shackles of everything they have learned during the cold weeks of winter when there is nothing else to do but study, learn, focus on careers in the making, while free of the temptations, the immoral distractions, the wanton ways that undo all the good that has been done! Yes, I sound bitter. Perhaps because I never went away for spring break, never took a trip, never debauched or rampaged or drank and swore, never danced or got my t-shirt wet, nothing immoral, unethical, illegal, or unprofessional, nothing that could jeopardize my future--

Uh...wait a minute. That was a long time ago. My future is now, roughly calculated. Is it too late for me?  Now were I to arrive in typical spring break venues and behave like the typical spring break participant, I would likely be labeled a "dirty old man"--and that would be fine with me. I'm sure there are plenty of other similarly labeled gentlemen participating in the same way. They seek something they never had, never were allowed: freedom, youth, fertility. And, perhaps more importantly, the means to forget it all. Such a regret!

Spring break is big business now. Like so many holidays and special occasions, whatever mankind decides to celebrate turns, ultimately, into a sordid shopping spree. It may be clothing, it may be gifts, or it may be the perfect boyfriend/girlfriend. It's still shopping. And, short of the basic necessities of life (plus some choice books), I've never been much of a shopper. Ergo: I am not spring break material. Which gives me plenty of time to complain about it.

See you next year!

PS. Time magazine had a fairly cool article on the commercial origins of spring break, at this link:

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