On March 29, The Prompt’s Senior Travel Correspondent spoke at a UN meeting on the situation in the apocalyptic Mexican city of Cancún during Spring Break. These are his full remarks.
Greetings United Nations officials,
While this was not my first brush with the battlefield, this was my first visit to Cancún during the spring break season.
As a journalist, you must be an idealist, reserving a few drops of hope that a pen can halt side effects of turbo-charged testosterone resulting from millions of years of Darwinian natural selection.
But it can change hearts and minds of people sending these poor boys into war. And that is what I hope to do by recounting a small part of my experience here today. Thank you for allowing me to tell the story of the lost boys of Cancún.
Deboarding the plane, nervous anticipation immediately floods the building. Muscles ballooned with creatine and veins pumping nitric oxide are visible from across the terminal. Wiry women, fresh off their crash diet of water and hypermasticated spinach expose most of their hips and thighs. The boys’ eyes dart from side to side as if Russell Westbrook just heard a basketball bounce.
Strangely, the drive towards the Oasis Resort in Cancún is filled with silence. The calm before the storm, perhaps. The unrelenting influx of spring break soldiers sped by us, ready for battle. The boys’ eyes straight ahead. Focused on what awaited them at Oasis. It’s a harrowing sight that did not illicit a reaction from my driver, Manuel, whose life (if you can call it that) has been under siege since the invasion.
Fifteen minutes into the ride, the silence is abruptly shattered by poorly-considered EDM/country crossover hits. First, a bass thud at approximately 120 beats per minute syncs with my amplified heart rate. Moments later, a high frequency cacophony that includes Ke$ha’s voice and a wooooo sound.
This sound—this shriek—is just one of those sounds that will never leave me, Imagine Lana del Rey missing a high note while taking a serrated knife to a glass bottle.
Upon arrival at Oasis Resort, there’s barely a second to survey the chaos. The lost boys storm out of the elevator carriages, consuming the lobby with their top-heavy frames and grunts of expectation. A blurry rainbow collage of board shorts, biceps, and bandanas, stampede toward the most sought after territory: the Oasis pool.
Microaggressions and preemptive flexing from rival factions of university fraternities are common here, and with an endless supply of financing and alcohol, these microaggressions turn into macroproblems.
The pool is the epitome of the military’s phrase the fog of war—it’s nearly impossible for the lost boys to make well-informed decisions. I watched one, Troy, mistakenly threaten Steakhead, falsely believing Steakhead was with Pi Kappa Alpha and not Pi Kappa Phi.
But what is the battle’s purpose? It’s a complex question with complex answers. There are factions and subplots and alliances all propped up by mysterious trust funds and Greek life donors. It’s nearly impossible to understand what each side fights for, and where good and evil exist. While an intervention is necessary, where would one start?
The blood feuds sometimes exist on personal levels. How can a U.S.-led intervention prevent Chad and his bros from wanting to exterminate PJ and his bros over a what transpired during a high school lacrosse game in West Chester County? The roots of this war grow far deeper than we ever imagined.
I approached a few weathered lost men, once lost boys, to more deeply understand what drives the battle. Whether they were lucky to still be there, subsisting on testosteronic fumes, is debatable.
One of the men, named Mike S. (name changed for safety reasons) explained why the Oasis Pool was considered the “Gaza Strip” of Cancún:
“To the outsider, this pool looks a big tub of infected water, but this pool is sacred to us. It’s not just a hole filled with concrete, water, and bodily fluids. It’s right in front of the prophet, DJ Lickwid, who exclusively plays trop house. It has an endless supply of our lifeblood – vodka. It’s our altar. The depth of the pool is strategically designed to cover up our neglected leg muscles It’s hallowed ground. This is why we fight.”
And the fighting was everywhere. Corpses strewn about the battleground like confetti after a party. Their skin fried by UV rays, brains switched off by alcohol, and limbs amiss.
Perhaps most striking is how the lost boys find ways to cope. Unprepared by society to think critically and feel complex emotions, they admirably continued their routines while their fellow soldiers dropped around them. They gelled hair, hugged each other, and contemplated self-worth and workout routines in the mirror.
The mirror reflects a facade of strength, but what I saw was heartbreaking.
Their boyish smiles are worn down by ecstasy-induced teeth chattering. Hair crackling under the weight of chlorine. The whites of their eyes scribbled red after a week without uninebriated sleep.
These boys are numb to the idea that this warzone will ultimately be their downfall. And yet, in just one week, every last one of them would walk away broken. Except the ones who never walked away at all. Rest in peace, Tommy Darknuts.
I would like to end by reminding you—policymakers, leaders of industry, and parents of the lost boys of Cancún—it is time we address this conflict. The solution is not a quick one. It will take action from all of us.
Hollywood executives could stop financing abysmal movies like Project X, parents can freeze financial assets, and Congress can finally pass legislation ending the Spring Break draft.
I attended Penn State. I’ve seen where these soldiers are mass produced like Uruk-hai orcs of Sauron’s army. But I have never seen anything like this. There’s no doubt—we must save the lost boys of Cancún.