Each and every year I have been a university student I have made a trek south of the border to go surfing in northern California during February reading break. The basic principle behind this trip is to pack five guys into a smelly Ford and create some memories that will (theoretically) last a lifetime. While every edition has been unique, last year's voyage was undoubtedly the highlight of my adult life and demonstrates best why the total university experience is crucial to a young person's life experience.
Like most life-altering occurrences, our trip began innocuously enough. Piling into the Explorer last February, our mandate was firmly set: we would eat at every fast food burger joint we could in the United States in order to determine the "best" expedient burger in the Land of the Free and we would drink more booze during the course of the week than Nick Nolte at a Christmas party.
Our route called for us to drive all day and bomb through the night until reaching our destination 28 hours later. As you might imagine, it is a pretty heroic drive and one that requires a ton of focus and determination. Unfortunately for us, we were in short supply of these two traits on this particular trip. Thus, when we entered the state of Nevada the decision was made to stop in Las Vegas to enjoy a quick meal. Now, anyone who has ever been to Vegas knows that there is no such thing there as a "quick meal." Our little sojourn turned from eating a quick meal to having a beer. One beer led to two. Two begat three. Three turned to "let's spend the night in Vegas! ARRROOOO." Sin City on short notice is probably not the greatest economic decision (especially after a few pints), but $240 later we had ourselves a fantastically mediocre room at the Tropicana for the night. In keeping with the second part of our mandate, we proceeded to get drunker than Mel Gibson in Malibu (but at least we didn't drive!).
Our inebriation led us up and down the strip and eventually to The Bank, the resident bar of The Bellagio. Without going into too much detail, we found ourselves in the club rather quickly after one of my dear friends decided to lay his MasterCard down for table service. We subsequently found ourselves out of the club about 10 minutes later when he found out the cost of said service.
Drunk, and with little prospect of finding women (essentially our third, but unspoken, mandate) we did what any self respecting young men would do: we decided to hire prostitutes.
Before you judge us too quickly, I'd like to advise you that we had no intent of actually sleeping with the pros. Our line of thinking was that they would come to our room and dance for us, sort of like our own little private show. If we can't get into the party, bring the party back to our room, right?
So we placed a call to a few services and hired four call girls from two different companies back to room 512 at the Tropicana. After some debating (and a couple rounds of Southern Comfort straight from the bottle) we decided to cancel two of the girls, fearing we might incite prostitute gang wars in our room (which, presumably, is not a good thing). Professional sex trade workers are nothing if not punctual and, like a pizza, we received our women 15 minutes later. Unlike a pizza, however, these women were not piping hot-- they were the exact opposite in fact. I'm not much of a writer, but if I had to write a descriptive account of them it would surely contain such adjectives as "grotesque," "gnarled" and/or "filthy." In simpler terms, these were not desirable women.
As you might imagine, things went from bad to worse for our little gang of Canadian surfers. I often think about writing a manuscript and getting this story made into a movie (starring Chevy Chase as myself) as everything that followed their arrival seems too surreal to have actually happened. As soon as the two women (and I use that term lightly) shut the door behind them they both flipped out their gross mammary glands (think sunnyside up egg hanging off a nail in the wall), which I suppose entered us into some bastardized form of contract. The first hooker, who I have taken to referring to as "Dolphin Teeth" when relating this story to friends, then spoke. "Who's gettin' it?" was all she said. Her thick Bostonian accent made the words hang in the stuffy air. In that one instant it was like a collective soberness had swept through the room, as we began to understand the magnitude of the situation we had gotten ourselves into. Between the five of us we had close to $3,000 cash in the room, not to mention our passports and other important paraphernalia. One thing that unfortunately was not in the room with us at that point was our dignity (or her good friend common sense) and so we pressed on, drunkenly explaining our plans to have "a dance party" in the room. To say they were nonplussed would be an understatement. "Honey," Dolphin Teeth gently cooed, "we don't dance. We fuck."
Well that seemed to clarify things pretty well for us. For some reason, however, it did not seem to satisfy them. The second girl, now nicknamed Cabbage Skin, felt it necessary to go all Missy Elliot and "search it" on my dear friend (whose name I will withhold to preserve whatever self respect he has left) and then slap his little soldier afterwards. It was around this point that we realized we had reached rock bottom and we needed to start digging up-- and fast. Thinking on the fly is never a strong suit of the drunken man, but before any of us could usher them from the room the conversation turned to remuneration. Serendipitously we had earlier picked up a "prostitute discount card" on the strip that gave us $75 off all transactions-- lucky us! As we found ourselves emptying out our pockets and piling a bunch of crumpled one dollar bills into a pile on the bed, we noted this discount did not seem to save us much money at all. All told we managed to rummage up $271 without opening our wallets or suitcases. Dolphin Teeth gathered the money like the seasoned veteran she was and made us an offer we (literally) could not refuse: she would have the pimp send up a "new" girl to the service who would dance for the $271. Excited, but more importantly relieved, we pushed the women out of our room and issued a collective sigh of relief. Approximately 37 seconds after the door had shut, our combined 17 years of post-secondary education snapped to attention and we realized that we had probably just been robbed of our hard earned cash by two decrepit hookers. Instinctively, my one buddy rushed after them, in the vain-- but nonetheless admirable-- hope of getting a receipt. To this day, his reaction still seems the most puzzling. My other buddy (he of dick-slapping fame) got on the phone with the pimp trying to procure a refund. He found no such luck. Depressed, but not defeated, we all fell into an uneasy slumber, with each of us unsure whether the sunshine or the fist of an angry pimp would wake us.
This story will forever define my university experience. I do not foresee anything ever topping it. It was a bonding experience between five guys that shared a lot in common before and shared a whole lot more after that one night-- and that's the point. After almost five years of university education, I'm really starting to realize how much I'm going to miss the student lifestyle and how much I'm going to miss defining myself by the experiences I have with my friends who I consider family. It took me a long time to realize it, but the true university experience has never been about getting a piece of paper that says my brain can write several exams and papers every three months (although it does obviously play a large role), but about creating memories and finding friends-- and, if you're lucky, a special someone-- that make up the very essence of who you are. That's why I retell this story: it is a cautionary tale, but not in the do's-and-don'ts-of-hiring-hookers sort of way. At the risk of sounding Van Wilder-esque, I decided to write this column to advise those newer to post-secondary than me to go out and really enjoy it. Don't let tests and deadlines define your academic year. You always hear people say that "high school is the best three years of your life." Fuck that. For a plethora of reasons, university is the best time of your life.
For the first time you will have to face some real challenges that are attached to the freedom of being an adult. With finals coming up it is easy to lose sight of a lot of things, which I suppose is why I finally wrote this article now. So enjoy university life while you still can. Make some bad decisions (that are hopefully balanced by some good ones) and strive to create enduring memories with your friends. At the end of the day, that's all you can really hope for. That and maybe a dance party in your hotel room with prostitutes in Vegas.