We've all heard the spring break horror stories about the girls who go on spring break and don't return. These are the types of stories in the forefront of your parents' minds as they quiz you about your spring break plans and protocol. While spring break is an opportunity to let your hair down, remember that the decisions you make while on spring break continue to have consequences, drunk or sober. You might end up with a sexually transmitted disease or worse. Here are a few tips to staying safe over spring break:
- Never leave an establishment with someone you don't know. No matter how cute, hunky, handsome or witty, or how many drinks you've had, the rule applies. No exceptions.
- Establish a spring break buddy system. The way this system works is that you buddy up with someone and you agree to stay (mostly) sober. You can have one or maybe two drinks, period. Then, when you see your really drunk buddy slipping out of the bar for a walk on the beach with her new "friend," you know better. In fact, when you take a closer look at her "friend," you wonder, "What is she thinking?!" The mostly sober buddy has veto power over her (drinking) buddy at all times. The next day, switch roles. This system has the added bonus of lessening the frequency of those really nasty sick hangovers.
- Leave your contact information with several different parties (including your parents) and check in regularly. I know; part of the fun is leaving it all behind, but believe me, if you end up on a cross-country trip against your will, you're going to hope someone is looking for you sometime before Indianola. The reason we have your parents on this list is that they are the ones who are really going to notice if they don't hear from you when anticipated: You'll also get some bonus points with them that you might be able to cash in later.
- Don't drink and drive. Duh. Also don't drive with someone else who has been drinking. The telephone pole that the car will wrap itself around is an equal opportunity obstacle.
- Never leave your drink unattended. Ever heard of a roofie? It's the sedative commonly known as the "date rape drug." In addition to being a sedative, a roofie has the unsettling side effect of inducing amnesia, so that you won't remember what happens to you during the several hours that this drug is in effect.
- Use a condom. I don't care if you are on the Pill--buy a condom.
- If you're out of the country.... There's a whole other set of rules if you're planning to travel out of the country and you'll need to bone up on them.
While I'm all for dancing on the bar in the right setting, chances are that spring break is not going to be the right setting. Yes, it is fun to lose inhibitions now and then. The trick is to do so without losing our lives or messing them up in a long-term way while we're at it. So remember the following:
- Sexual predators will not be wearing trench coats. We all have stereotypes of sexual predators and they usually involve trench coats, greasy hair and other identifiable characteristics. Truth be told, the most successful sexual predators are the boy-next-door types who don't get caught. Take a look at Ted Bundy: CelebrityMorgue. Even if he's not your type, he might start to look pretty good after a few drinks. Put yourself in the shoes of a sexual predator. Where's a good place to be? You got it: Spring break.
- A few drinks can make a loser look good. While the message about alcohol affecting our judgment has been driven home in the don't drink and drive category, the point also needs to be made when it comes to deciding upon potential sexual partners and activities. A few drinks can make you want to push up against some of your usual boundaries, say never leaving a bar alone with someone you don't know.
- A few more drinks can make a loser look even better. You know by now that when you tie one on, your powers of observation dim. Thanks to alcohol, tomorrow you might not remember certain sequences of tonight's events: This is not the state of mind in which to be making decisions that could affect your long-term health and well-being. Even if you end up surviving an unpleasant situation, it can take years to work through the aftermath of humiliation, hurt or permanent injury.
- Herpes sucks. So does human papilloma virus, which increases your chances of developing cervical cancer. And of course, these are nothing compared to HIV. Sorry to be so blunt, but how do you think sexually transmitted diseases get spread? It would be a shame to suffer lifelong consequences that can affect your opportunity to land future partners or to, say, bear children, due to one bad choice you make over spring break. It's not fair but one wrong decision over spring break can really screw up your life.
You can still have fun, of course; if you follow these tips, chances are that you'll return home and be able to tell us all about it!