The plane fills up and takes off at 3:30 pm. The back of this Miami-bound airplane has all kinds of people in it, but the only ones drawing real attention from the other passengers are the drinkers. Everyone knows about the magical things that the number 21 makes possible. Two rows ahead, formerly pink faces are beet red, first from the tanning salon, then from the airplane liquor. Boston Red Sox baseball caps have been set to backwards; abdominal muscles are strategically accentuated by tight polo shirts. Check, check, check. Badabing, badaboom. With these crucial tools in place, they let loose their 2006 spring break motto: “Gametime, baby, gametime!”, enough times for everyone to know that it's really gametime, for serious. They scream it louder when they realize that it's making the sorority girls from Rhode Island giggle. The old women with oversize Dolce & Gabbana sunglasses and baby blue visors are not as impressed as their younger female counterparts. Oh, right: the exiled Cuban grannies. Besides these boys and girls, one would think that this was a retirement community relocation to Little Havana. But it's not; it's just a quick two and a half hour ride to Miami from Newark. Gametime, baby, gametime.
The plane arrives around 6 pm. It's a short walk down the well-greened negative space of the landing gate to the baggage claim at Miami International Airport, which has got to be the most sexually charged luggage-handling facility on the planet. It's not immediately obvious at first; it could, after all, just be a bunch of college-aged men and women standing around in skimpy outfits, waiting on their bags. But one comes to realize that this is not so. The fact is that there is a telekinetic orgy going on right here at station C-27. Its physical symptoms can be diagnosed everywhere: bulging eyeballs, tense body posture, nippleitis, finger-biting, flushed cheeks. Before the suitcases even begin to appear on the conveyer belts, hotel names and cellphone numbers have been exchanged. An interesting statistic comes to mind: it's been said that some 40 percent of women who have sex during spring break do so just to fit in with their friends and the general spring break vibe. The Haitian cab driver agrees. Everyone agrees.
The taxicab arrives at the Strip at about half past seven. Miami is the slutty architectural child of a Paris fashion show catwalk and an off-NJ Turnpike GoGo-Rama platform. Arrive and find yourself in the middle of an ocean of Glam: tall and white skyscrapers, blocks of Art Deco-style buildings, graceful palm trees, bright lights, beautiful women, beautiful women for sale, women for sale, and amazing cars. Oh, the cars. Each car strives to be more spectacular than the next in the way of body modifications, paintjobs, clarity of speaker system (all of which are blasting hip-hop or reggeton at full volume), and, of course, in terms of rims. Rims, rims, rims, everywhere there are rims, spinnin' rims (forward and back), weighted rims that don't spin even as the car tires do, 20's, 22's, 24's, even something that is quite possibly in the 30's and has the sedan frame sitting some three feet above the ground on its monstrously large tires. Hummers are cruising around as if they were Honda Civics. One old, bald, fat white man, hanging halfway out of the window of his stretch Hummer with his red cup in hand, wordlessly beckons a group of girls at least half his age to get in; two or three of them do just that, and it speeds off, its huge rims spinning mightily. Those girls are no exception. Young ladies wearing next to nothing are getting in and out of expensive-looking cars everywhere. Peals of laughter, the honking of horns, and the yelps of a woman in the heat of sex all infect each other as they echo through the delicious evening air. Over all of it, one can hear a popular song (by a Miami-based artist, no less) poppin' off: “So follow me down the Yellow Brick Road, where niggas go to see naked hoes… Shake that shit, biiiiiiiiiiiiitch!!!” It is now five minutes before midnight. Gametime, baby.
Midnight arrives. The right side of Ocean Avenue is packed like midnight mass at Easter, a continuous procession of shiny breasts and swollen buttocks stretching as far as the eye can see. The Special Forces in Tora Bora are wasting their time; Osama bin Laden has got to be doing his dirty deeds somewhere around here. Collins Ave. is an unbelievable mix of the rich elderly, the young slutty, pimps, prostitutes, charlatans, bums, Midwestern middle-aged tourists in flip-flops and unfashionable jeans, young macho men… nobody is too Old to party here. Washington Ave. has several lines of these characters waiting outside its many nightclubs, like a hip-hop videofied baggage claim. If you make it past the omnipresent French doormen, it costs 20 dollars to get in anywhere, and another 20 dollars (minimum) gets spent getting trashed once inside. The smallish, nervy, non-fraternity affiliated white boys, too shy to ask a girl to dance, try and fail to dance among themselves to rap and reggae. Props to them. Other young men creep up behind girls who are dancing together and try to grind anonymously, a graceless and aggressive move, like the Indian pharmacy students from Rutgers that try to insert themselves physically between conversations. The majority of these kids get shot down in the process. Only the men with the balls and the charm to come up and manage some sort of positive eye contact amid the chaos get an honest dance. If they play their cards right, who knows… in South Beach, sex can happen between just about any two (or more) people, in just as many places, times, and positions. The crowd gets showered repeatedly with vodka from the mediocre Miami emcees onstage… that's not very gametime, you bastards. Bartender, another $10 drink.
A haze of bars and clubs later and 4 am arrives. Eat pizza, sit down in white plastic hotel chairs, watch the beautiful, average, and ugly people walk down Collins. Try to bum a cigarette off a bum. Put that drink down. See stumbling in stilettos, crying, laughing, screaming, pissing, kissing, vomiting, eating, self-shitting, drinking, and, of course, making out; what is the Strip without sex? And a better question: how many of those things are on your to-do list for tonight? Speaking of which, back at the San Juan Inn, the shabby-looking pimp in his eternal blue sweatsuit is offering his two prostitutes seated out in front of the restaurant next door, one of which is 4'11 and very closely resembles an effeminate middle-aged man with cropped, lollipop red hair, and the other, which could be making more money as a backup center in the WNBA. No thanks. People keep disappearing into the alley between San Juan and the restaurant; nobody comes back out. There go the Gametime Kids from the airplane with the Boston Red Sox ball caps. One has a black eye. What happened? He ran into some New York Yankees fans from New Jersey earlier in the evening. They leave, and a Scottish couple takes their places on the white plastic chairs. Oh, what sweet accents. Amid all the beer, soccer, and Gaelic talk, nobody notices as a Fat Joe look-alike punches a bum in the face for telling the WNBA-sized prostitute to leave him alone, right in front of a cop, who doesn't do anything about it. If it weren't for these chairs, too much would be happening right now.
Bedtime has arrived. At least for some. It is a chance to sleep off the baptism by firewater and enjoy what's left of Sunday upon waking up. When that happens, there will be more of Miami to see, within and beyond the Strip. Those Cuban grannies must hang out somewhere around here