Party All the Time

Tony Nelson

"I'm going to get cavity searched!" So exclaims 21-year-old Adam Berge. Berge, a diminutive spiky-haired college student dressed in a sweatshirt and plastic flip-flops, does not say this with much alarm. "Yeah, anal cavity searched," clarifies his traveling companion, a tan, muscular kid who looks like a shoo-in for MTV's next Real World installment, The Jersey Shore. Berge responds that a cavity search "will be the only action" he'll get in the next week. He laughs at this, but the self-deprecating prediction seems born of honest reckoning over his prospects.

It's 6:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning at the Humphrey Terminal of the Minneapolis International Airport. Berge and two friends--the other one toting a copy of the lad magazine Maxim and an uncracked edition of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas--were just dropped off by Berge's mom. The trio is revved up. And why not? This is spring break and the destination is Cancún. The group's mission, explains Berge, is to get "completely and totally annihilated the whole entire time." By the look of things--or more accurately, the smell--the boys are off to a good start. They reek of stale beer and gin.

The line for the Sun Country ticketing counter extends roughly the length of a city block. There are perhaps 500 people here. Slumped under the weight of their overstuffed bags, they look like refugees. Almost everyone is bleary-eyed, and few are so high-spirited as the Cancun-bound party boys. "I can't believe this is a big-city airport," mutters one older gentleman, who is decked out in pastel-colored golf attire. If only there were someone he could fire.

The line moves at a relatively swift and orderly pace. A mustachioed guy at the front carries a cloth contraption emblazoned with the Budweiser logo. It's filled with--what else?--a case of Bud. "You know, there's beer in Mexico," the Sun Country greeter tells him. "Yeah," the mustachioed man responds, "but it's all imported." The greeter nods and smiles. Does this mean the Budweiser in Mexico is bad because it's imported from the States? Or is "imported" a blanket term for everything non-American? Who knows? There is no call for rigorous logic at this ungodly hour.

Along with the party folk, there are plenty of harried family types. Some use their baby strollers as cowcatchers as they weave through the thick crowd. Others frantically dig through their diaper bags, luggage, and purses. A weary-looking mother smears a fistful of wipes across her baby's vanilla-wafer-covered face. A few inches away, a dead-eyed woman in matching coral lipstick and nail polish stares into the middle distance. She resembles Melanie Griffith in her pre-Goddess, pre-plastic surgery days. But her newly manicured fingers will surely look stunning wrapped around a pink Bahama Mama.

Nearby, there is a big family from Bayfield, Wisconsin. They are bound for a week-long cruise--their second such outing in as many years. Last time, in celebration of a 30th wedding anniversary, Rich, the patriarch, took 10 of his kin on the cruise. This time, it's just a lucky six. Everyone is wearing beaded necklaces--good-luck charms they acquired on the last trip.

Then there is an especially exuberant fellow, Clint Klingell. "I like my name because it reminds me of Christmas," he says by way of introduction. Nipping on a 32-ounce plastic Holiday mug filled with some mysterious and potent beverage, Klingell explains that he's "34 going on 21."

At the moment, he is stoked. He just met three college-aged guys in line and, it turns out, they are all bound for the same resort in Jamaica. "Fuckin' A! We're going to the same place! Can you believe it?" he whoops. "We're going to drink like crazy." He then wraps his arms around the three young strangers and lays out a daring plan. "We're going to get really tan, drop drawer, and run down the beach naked." Klingell's wife doesn't appear excited by this. She shoves a pen in his hand and, through gritted teeth, instructs him to fill out his travel documents.

By 7:00 a.m., most travelers have made their way to the gates. Meanwhile, the Berge party lingers by the gift shop. "We're headed to the bar," Berge says. There's a bar in Humphrey Terminal? "Yeah, that guy told us to go there," he says, gesturing toward a guy in a baseball cap. The guy turns around and points at them like it's a disco move he can't quite master. It's Clint Klingell. "Hey! Are you guys going to party or what?" he yells. They respond with a collective "Whoo!" Mrs. Klingell rolls her eyes. A few feet away, two little girls sit side by side in strollers, whispering secret stories to their stuffed horses.

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