I am 81/2 miles north of Fort Lauderdale, and my spring break experience has been less "Girls Gone Wild" and more "Grannies Gone Wild." I find myself among a large number of French Canadians who seem to be very European when it comes to making swimwear choices. Most of them are in really good shape, but it's confusing for me to see a woman in her 70s in a thong. Do they chug Jagermeister or Geritol? The men wear thongs too. I just pretend that I'm at East Bank Club and avert my eyes.
I walk the beach for an hour a day. I don't wear my glasses to avoid "raccoon eyes." Every day since January I have seen objects that appear to be shapely young women in the distance turn into shapely grandmothers as they draw near. My disappointment is palpable. I'm a lot more comfortable being labeled a dirty old man rather than a dirty young man. I want to be an imaginary cradle robber, not a daydreaming grave robber. These women are my "cougars." I need to embrace them. Not literally, of course. Although, my wife and I are separated: She's in Chicago and I'm in Florida (rim shot).
Once the spring break epicenter, Fort Lauderdale still gets its share of pent-up college kids. Things are a bit more under control these days. A mid-1980s crackdown on open containers of booze helped move the hard-core spring break action to Panama City and Daytona Beach. Present-day Fort Lauderdale resembles a scaled-down version of itself in the 1960 movie "Where The Boys Are." It's the kind of place you probably wouldn't mind sending your kids to for spring break. Ironically, the home of the wet T-shirt contest is where a girl might go if she doesn't want to end up in one.
I watched "Where the Boys Are" last weekend to refresh my memory about its story line. I found it extremely entertaining. George Hamilton had a deep, rich tan 50 years ago. He must have a really good dermatologist keeping an eye out for melanomas. Dolores Hart, Yvette Mimieux and Paula Prentiss were still as cute as I remembered them. Growing up in Los Angeles, I never yearned for a spring break from the weather. I did long to meet cute girls, since I attended an all-boys school. It's tough to meet them if you don't have any contact with them.
I have been meaning to drive down to Fort Lauderdale Beach for at least one of my daily constitutionals, but I am a creature of habit. I instead stroll over to Pompano Beach every day and take in the sexy septuagenarians. There are younger women on the beach, but they are usually with kids, and that seems wrong. It's amazing to me how many young moms these days are sporting tattoos. There are so many people sporting tattoos that not having one seemingly makes one an iconoclast.
I will be leaving this week to head back up to Chicago. I have renewed my promise to treat myself to a walk on Fort Lauderdale's historic spring break beach. The Elbo Room is still there, and so are the spring-breakers. I could always start up north in Pompano and walk the 81/2 miles down to Fort Lauderdale. That would seem less like creepy and more like an adventure. One thing is for sure: South Beach is out of the question. I don't think my ticker could take that, even with all of the cardio that I've been doing lately.
Steve Dahl is a Tribune special contributor. To read more Steve Dahl, go to Dahl.com.