Girls who have gone not so wild

Amy Durazo

We’ve all seen the ads on TV, perhaps even watched the spoofs on “Saturday Night Live.” It’s the dream of skanky co-eds and the nightmare of worrisome parents: “Girls Gone Wild.”

“You’re going to be safe right?” my mom asked, only half joking. “You’re not going to make me worry, you’re not going to go anywhere alone, I’m not going to see you naked on a commercial … right?”

Well, I don’t even like going to the bathroom by myself nor bearing my less-than-perfect stomach to the free world, so I reassured her I’d steer clear of camera crews and strangers offering candy.

The truth is, I’m safe. Cautious. Careful. I wake up in the middle of the night to make sure the doors are locked, I hold my car keys between my fingers so I can easily stab a predator and my heart starts pounding when I hear footsteps behind me.

Blame it on too much “Law and Order: SVU.”

Or chalk it up to the fact that, since we were old enough to understand danger, girls have been taught to avoid it. Don’t talk to strangers. Don’t dress provocatively. The world is not always a friendly place for women. People are out to get you.

So when my friends and I – spring break amateurs – arrived in the Bahamas, our hotel was overrun with tipsy Villanovans, and we couldn’t help but wonder how the next week would play out. With all of the free-flowing booze, would our deepest, darkest, inner sinners emerge?

Thankfully, not quite.

Unlike other spring breakers who head far, far away, basically to consume mass quantities of alcohol in another country, we were concerned with another deadly delight – the sun.

We carefully set our alarms for 10 a.m. each day and chose prime spots near the water while our peers were throwing up their hangovers and chugging from the bathroom tap. We sipped water instead of daiquiris during the day so we could soak up the rays without dehydrating. We used SPF 45 on our faces and SPF 8 on our legs and SPF 15 on our arms and backs.

And while wearing a tube top with a mini skirt or ugly shoes might be the most inappropriate thing most Villanovans would attempt, all around us our fellow students were taking risks.

Some entered (and won) hard body contests. Others seized their chances to hook up with as many people as possible. Some didn’t even wear sunscreen at all. The frat boys braved the icy waters and played pool volleyball.

All the while, we played it safe. Stayed together, avoided conflict, avoided action.

So when I found myself stepping onto a 92-foot yacht alongside my roommate and eight others we’d met earlier in the week, my conscience (aka the voice of my mother) was screaming. “You don’t know these people. They might kill you and throw you overboard. Natalee Holloway. Natalee Holloway. Natalee Holloway.” You get the idea.

The night before, they’d invited us to spend the day on their friend’s boat.

After being thoroughly sketched out, followed by intrigued, we opted to get the details. Their names (Adam and Nick, to name a few), where they are from (“Danbury, Conn., but we go to the College of Charleston”), whether they were of Dutch descent or if any of their last names are Van der Sloot (no and no), and if this was all a big joke/terrible pick up line (no and sort of).

And, after thorough deliberation and a what-would-our-mothers-say discussion, we decided to climb aboard.

As we watched Paradise Island fade from view, we let our paralyzing fears sink into the deep turquoise nothing. The day was filled with feeding iguanas on a remote island, playing rummy on the back of a ship as well equipped and more expensive than my house, and skeet shooting with a rifle, not to mention sunbathing in the middle of the Carribbean.

Hours later, when Atlantis poked back up on the horizon, we knew this would make the list of the greatest days of our lives, along with weddings and births of children.

“I still can’t believe we did this,” my roommate said.

“We could have died,” I said.

“But we didn’t,” she said.

We didn’t.

On a normal day, we would have overthought, overanalyzed and opted for the overly cautious scenario. In the Bahamas, we were tired of treading water, tired of being confined to land, sick of being anchored down by the rules and limitations we followed everyday.

Later on as we reflected on and quickly dismissed the many possible terrible things that might have happened, we decided our instincts were correct. Our friends confessed they were worried and thought we were gone forever and told us we were too crazy.

Were we too crazy? Were we supposed to hide from experience and avoid meeting new people because something might go wrong?

Were we supposed to pretend our lives were perfect just as they were, dismissing the opportunity of a lifetime because it might make our parents worry?

After all, we hadn’t hurt anyone and hadn’t hurt ourselves. We hadn’t bared it all on camera, and we hadn’t taken mind-expanding drugs and we hadn’t put ourselves in mortal harm.

But we did talk to strangers, and we did eat their candy.

So maybe we were crazy. Not too crazy, I think, but just crazy enough.