Dude, you're sick!
How to diagnose, and more importantly, treat, Spring Break Syndrome
It’s finally spring, which, if you live in Southwest Colorado, means a few things. The clocks have sprung forward, and we get to wake up in total darkness again, which is probably a contributing factor to why I feel like crying every morning. That and the fact that I haven’t seen the sun in a week due to the endless bomb-cyclone-atmospheric-river-mega-storm-cycles that have brought much-needed moisture to the area since January, and much dismay to my husband, who’s about to blow out his back from shoveling snow. Additionally, the roads have become more pothole than road, and I’m willing to bet your daily commute has transformed into something akin to the Baja 500, minus the trophy truck.
But the most notable shift that heralds the new season isn’t the chirping of birds or budding trees or blooming flowers we’ve all been desperately waiting for. It’s the arrival of a plague. Or, as they’re more commonly known, spring breakers.
It’s a fact that without tourism, small towns would die in much the same way that Emily from ASU might “literally die if she doesn’t get a fishbowl margarita STAT.” We need spring breakers to prop up our local economy after a long winter. But the complication isn’t that these tourists buy deeply problematic “Colorado Native” T-shirts, consume their body weight in all the recreational drugs that aren’t legal back home, and drink enough alcohol to sedate a horse. It’s that they’re riddled with SBS.
SBS, or Spring Break Syndrome, can be defined as a common disorder that affects the cognitive and behavioral function of adolescents through adults for one-week intervals during the months of March and April. Scientists theorize that SBS is caused by an alteration in our brain chemistry that occurs as soon as we believe we will be leaving our “real lives” behind for a place where everyday responsibilities cease to exist, replaced with “good vibes only.”
Now, you might be thinking that SBS only affects the tourists who visit your town, however, the condition is highly contagious and anyone can contract it. Even you. In some studies, it’s been observed that the moment an individual books a car, hotel or flight for spring break, the symptoms of SBS have already begun to set in. Their transformation into someone who will froth at the mouth over the prospect of wearing shorts for the first time in six months and acting like a complete jerk to service workers because they’re “on vacay” is inevitable.
Sadly, a common sign of SBS is an acute lack of self-awareness, meaning many people who have the syndrome don’t even know it. While the symptoms of SBS can vary, there are a few key indicators to look for that might prove you or someone you know might be affected.
Have you suddenly forgotten how to drive? Has the function of a turn signal become a mystery to you? Do you find yourself running locals off the road in your absolute fervor to get to your Airbnb/Vrbo/condo that could have been affordable housing but was turned into a cash cow vacation rental instead? You might have SBS.
In areas like Durango, SBS often presents in the form of five-hour wait times at Steamworks thanks to that one party of 27, an influx of Yukon SUVs filling up every parking space from Main to 3rd avenues, and chairlifts at Purgatory that are overrun with frat bro gapers who are all coincidentally named Bryce. Other non-regionally specific signs include a desire to stand on tabletops or bars to sing a hackneyed rendition of any (yes, any) Taylor Swift song in an effort to prove that you’re so totally over your ex and definitely having way more fun without them. Individuals should also be checked for SBS if they exhibit a heightened interest in the music of Pitbull, LMFAO or “Island in the Sun” by Weezer.
If you suspect you have SBS, take the following steps:
• Step 1: Drink some water. This is just good life advice in general, but it’s also especially important when it comes to ensuring you’re regularly flushing the gallons of alcohol from your system so your brain can function enough to recognize when you might be experiencing SBS.
• Step 2: Review your social media activity. If you recently posted a photo with any caption resembling any iteration of “stress-free zone,” “vacation mode on” or “catch flights, not feelings,” you are in need of immediate assistance.
• Step 3: Should you exhibit any of the symptoms listed above, take a moment to pause, look around, and then repeat this mantra. [Insert Location] is a real town. [Insert Location] does not only exist the one time per year that I decide to visit. I should respect [Insert Location] and the people who live here.
Tragically, the only known cure for SBS is the crushing weight of reality, administered by going back to wherever it is you came from. But with heightened public awareness programs and PSAs such as this, we can all strive to be a little less terrible the next time we go on vacation. So go out, have fun and cross your fingers that the town you return to isn’t another popular spring break location!
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