Spring Break Never Had To End

This photo was taken in the parking lot of Daytona Beach’s far-from-legendary El Caribe hotel in the year of our lard 1996. I’m on the left; on the right, my dear friend John P. I was living in a neighboring village at the time and John had come down from Connecticut (where we met in junior high) with his church youth group for Spring Break. We are both a very fresh seventeen years of age in this picture.

John’s church youth group were holding a silent prayer in what appeared to be a walk-in utility closet when I arrived at the seedy El Caribe. I had no idea what was happening when I came across this gathering—looked to me like a bunch of people were just sitting around staring into space, tired and bored—but they were the only non-cockroaches on the premises, so I stuck my head in the closet and began stammering loudly.

“Uh, H-hey, I’m looking for John? Is John here?”

John immediately stood up and started laughing, but no one else seemed very amused. Needless to say, I didn’t make any new friends that day. My choice of attire may have played into that as well.

Keen observers will notice the rusting heap of crap in the background of the above photo. That was my mother’s 1987 Mercury Grand Marquis, a vehicle that leaked oil like the Exxon Valdez. Regardless, it holds a special place in my heart because it was the first vehicle I was allowed to operate on my own. I used to put my boombox in the back window (the Merc had no tape deck) and blast alternative rock mix tapes as I drove around the Central Florida ‘burbs. I felt sort of like a king in that car, but in reality I probably had more of an Uncle Buck vibe going on.

I can’t remember who took this photo. I think it was a girl named [REDACTED] who had a big crush on John. And why not? Baby-Face Turturro over there knew how to rock a European soccer jersey.

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