Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Sordid, Sinful Sands of the Sunny Sea

Whenever some poor soul from Upstate South Carolina mentions the beach, everyone knows exactly what they are talking about - Myrtle Beach. When spring and summer come upon us, where would you rather be than the mecca of the redneck horde? What more could you want than a Wings and an Eagles on every street corner - selling the kind of quality t-shirts that disintegrate on contact with your skin and for only a buck a pop! Accuse me of snobbery if you will, but I need more than a mere 7 million miniature golf courses and a rusty carousel to make my vacation the fantastic fun-filled voyage I deserve. When I am ready to hit the sands and splash amidst the waves, my car heads in a different direction, down to sun-splashed Florida and the spring break capital of the world, Panama City Beach.
During the short decade that composed my college years, I would head down 1-85 with several friends and a dozen silver cows or so to spend my spring break on the Gulf Coast. On occasion, a buddy or two would remain, never to return to his studies evermore. Such is the allure of the siren song of Panama City Beach.
Unlike the gritty, dark colored sands of the Atlantic Coast, the Gulf sands are a white powder that looks enough like flour that we attempted to bake bread with it on several misguided occasions. Do not attempt to snort it either. The water is superior as well, not the murky dark green of Myrtle, but rather a clear blue, which allows you the pleasure of viewing whatever marine wildlife is gently gnawing off your leg from the knee down. The city did suffer a setback for a couple of years when the beach was consumed by the might of Hurricane Opal, but don't worry, a magic fairy brought the dust back and all is right with the world until the polar icecaps melt, another hurricane strikes, or Britney Spear's child grows of age (hopefully that will be my last pop culture reference of the year as I have used up my quota of one).
Besides the gorgeous shore, why should you take the drastic step of driving your car through the treacherous trails of medieval Alabama? Brief aside: if you do choose to visit this sad excuse for a state, make sure to peel off your Hillary for Prez stickers first.
Panama City Beach is most famous for Club La Vela, a dance club featured on MTV's Spring Break. La Vela and its sister club, Spinnaker's, is best known for bikinis and naked flesh; sweaty bodies swinging to and fro in ecstasy and probably on it as well. Breasts bobbing up and down as dancers press their torsos hard into one another in fits of intoxicated madness. The music crashes down from the speakers and the bass beats in a tribal rhythm not dissimilar to the copulation rites practiced by Fulani chieftains in an age long past. A transcendent bass-filled cacophony crushes the tympanic membrane into submission. Soon chaos will break free of its chains and rule over the dance floor as the sexual frenzy reaches a slippery, quivering climax. Personally, I prefer playing volleyball.
During my engagements in Panama City Beach, I have without fail stayed at the Sandpiper Beacon Hotel. The amenities include four pools (including one indoors), two never-been-peed-in jacuzzi, a four hole miniature golf course, volleyball courts, and a Tiki bar. The major attraction (barely beating out the Tiki bar, location of my second place finish during the 1997 wet T-shirt contest), is something called the lazy river. The lazy river is like a pool, but shaped more like a castle's moat, running in an oval around a filled in center. The water possesses a light current that allows you to sit on a float and with either properly situated kegs or enslaved pledges, you can maintain your supine position undisturbed for several hours of relaxing, mindless pleasure.
Of course, at some juncture you are going to want to leave the hotel grounds and try out the floury sand and sparkling water that I spoke of earlier. There are also many seaside activities available including para sailing, jet skiing, surfing, and water-boarding (not to be confused with the torturing/non-torturing of America's enemies, just take a short sail out to Guantanamo Bay if that is the kind of freaky stuff you are into). There is nothing that I enjoy more, however, than riding the big yellow banana. Do you need more of an explanation, or should that suffice? Frankly, you have probably gone to far to stop now, so here goes - the yellow banana is a large inflated piece of plastic with five seats, attached to a motor boat. The goal of the boat's driver is to drive at a horrendously dangerous speed and take quick, spine-crushing turns, thus causing the riders to fly off and crash into the water. Everyone then climbs back onto the banana in order to have the opportunity to be thrown from it once more. There is nothing closer to bull riding around and the good news is this ride won't result in your body hanging off of a blood-soaked horn as your intestines leak from your back like water and pasta escaping from a poorly sized human callender.
So now you see the obvious reasons why I eschew Myrtle Beach in exchange for greener pastures. Heck, I didn't even mention the high-quality strip clubs or even the luxurious comfort of the local jails (avoid running down the beach naked if possible). There is so much to do and to see there that I can't possibly fit the words into my allotted space. Instead, I will summarize with a verse. Just free yourself from the tyranny of the same, shed your shame, show off your game, don't act too lame, head to your hotel room with a dame, not excessively tame, perhap Valerie Plame, who hopefully won't even know your name. Don't ever mix poetry and rotgut moonshine boys and girls.

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