The Meat and Potatoes of Life: Spring break generates fond memories, totally

| March 22, 2014 | 0 Comments


Lisa Smith Molinari
Contributing Writer
“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 this hassle just to spend military leave time stuffing ourselves like sardines into our minivan for 11 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 had 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, and headed from chilly Ohio to sunny Daytona Beach, Fla. 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 14-hour ride south.

“Ohmigod,” my roommate exclaimed halfway through Tennessee. “Like, I totally can’t find Lisa anywhere! No 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

Photo courtesy Lisa Smith Molinari The author shares a throwback photo of The Bud Light Belly Flop Contest she attended at the Sea Dip Motel pool in the spring of 1986. 

Photo courtesy Lisa Smith Molinari
The author shares a throwback photo of The Bud Light Belly Flop Contest she attended at the Sea Dip Motel pool in the spring of 1986.

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 stonewashed 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 Camaro. 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 80s. 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 80s were fun. A lot of fun.

“Honey,” I asked my husband as we entered the New Jersey Turnpike, “find that 80s 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.
(A 20-year military spouse and mother of three, Molinari has plenty of humor to share in her column, “The Meat and Potatoes of Life,” which appears in military and civilian newspapers and at

Tags: , ,

Category: Community

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *