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March Madness refers to more than basketball

They tell me that the real madness of March is what goes on at college spring break. I do not know firsthand, but from what I hear, it's not like Connie Francis and "Where the Boys Are" anymore - not even in Ft. Lauderdale, where some say all the lunacy got its start, because of the very movie that I mentioned at the top of the page.

The epicenter of spring break, according to my research - which I will admit is quite limited, primarily because of the restraints placed upon my journalistic curiosity by my lovely wife, Lisa (she took away my credit card, hid my car keys and put parental guards on my Internet browser) - is as shifting as the sands upon which all the young people cook themselves to a golden crisp.

For a while, Ft. Lauderdale was the place to be and be seen. The infamous Candy Store - which is a bar, not an actual place to buy candy - may have invented the wet T-shirt contest - again, based upon hearsay - and MTV used to televise live from there throughout March. At other times, Daytona Beach was the most popular destination for area students, and then Panama City Beach - the original "Redneck Riviera" - held court for a while, before giving way to the glitz of South Beach and more exotic locales.

Those places are just for the lower crust of college society, of course. (Please take note of the sarcasm, lest you become offended that I should be calling your child or grandchild a part of the lower crust.) The kids with money - or should I say the kids with mamas and daddies with money - have gotten into the habit of heading to more prestigious - expensive - locales: Jamaica, Cancun, Cozumel, Aruba and a lot of other places that one could never reach in a Ford Pinto or a 10-year-old Camry.

But we were about to talk about the madness, weren't we? Or at least I was.

Could the goings on at spring break possibly be as full of debauchery as depicted in the media? Surely not. If so, why would any parent allow their child to partake, much less foot the bill? Before Lisa pulled the plug on my computer, I found news stories and pictures and YouTube videos depicting all manner of craziness, most of which seemed to take place without benefit of very much clothing and under the influence of excessive amounts of alcohol.

If this is making you nervous, don't worry - I have it on the best authority from my own children that it is only "other people's offspring" who engage in such behavior. Neither your child nor my child or any of their friends are doing anything but lying on the beach and discussing the effects of the poor economy on post-graduation job prospects, although my step-niece did show up on an Oprah special about the phenomena a couple of years ago.

Y'all wouldn't believe what other folks' children are doing in Florida. I won't go into details because there may be a few young people who actually read my column, and I don't want to give them any ideas, but judging from the things I have seen, it's a wonder anybody makes it back alive - or at least with any brain cells intact.

I spent a lot of time discussing all of the spring break lunacy this week with my son, Jackson, who is a second-year student at UGA, (He's the one who told me that it was "other people" who did that stuff), while his sister, Jamie, also a UGA student, spent the week at Clearwater Beach. Surely she couldn't get in too much trouble at Clearwater Beach. It's right next to St. Petersburg, and isn't St. Petersburg known as the city of the living dead? Jamie called me once this week and claimed she was in Tampa, watching the New York Yankees play baseball, which I found somewhat comforting.

Anyway, Jackson took me to task and called me a word that I am pretty sure meant old fogey, and asked me if I remembered where I went during spring break when I was in college. I assured him that I knew exactly where I went - the Osprey Mill, in Porterdale. For four straight years, I worked five, 12-hour shifts for $1.60 an hour and made enough spending money to last an entire quarter.

I think I made my point and, to his credit, Jackson stayed home and helped me work in the yard all week, although I did pay him considerably more than $1.60 an hour. He cut down trees, burned leaves, planted shrubs and built a brick walkway - all of the things that his mother had been after me to do for months.

Poor kid.

Maybe next year I will send him to South Beach. Or maybe I'll leave him here working again and go myself. If I don't get to do that, I will at least figure out how to take the parental controls off my laptop.

Darrell Huckaby is an author and teacher in Rockdale County. E-mail him at dhuck08@bellsouth.net.