Some Strange Spring Break

Weirder than anything you've seen on "Cops," scarier than the Sci Fi Channel, more changes of plans than "Trading Spaces," more Francophobe comments than "National Lampoon's European Vacation": welcome to Spring Break '03!

Or: how Kissimmee, Fla., suddenly seemed more attractive to those intent on travel than Tuscany.

Below, a more or less accurate representation of some of the dialogue on the telephone, in e-mail exchanges, at airports and in family rooms on the subject of the much-beloved midsemester vacation for schoolkids, college students and their parents, this year at a time of particular national peril and tension.

(In the event of actual war most or all of what follows is subject to change, as well as subject to hysterical italicized communication among family members.)

"As soon as you get to the hostel, find out where the American Consulate is and mark it on your map. Just in case."

"Does anyone know how Holland voted on the war resolution in the United Nations?"

"What about Jamaica?"

"We just decided we can't leave the country. We're going to take everybody to Disney World."

"We would never go to Disney World. If I were a terrorist, it's the first place I'd think of."

"Don't touch anything metal on the beach."

"I appreciate that you love that T shirt. But I think that T shirt will send the wrong message to security if they search your bags."

"This isn't the time to joke around with the flight attendants."

"If war starts while you're gone, I'll text-message your cell phone and send you an e-mail. And then I want you on the next plane."

"Some guy told me there's a place in Key West that has a drink called a Saddam. You get bombed in about 15 minutes."

"Does anyone know where the Bush girls are going? Because that's where I'll send my daughter."

"I wish they'd stop changing the start date of the war. First it was March 17. Then someone told me March 21. At this point I don't know who to believe."

"We're driving. I don't care if gas goes over two dollars a gallon, we're driving. I wouldn't get on a plane if you paid me."

"I refuse to let them hold our family vacation hostage."

"The baggage handler on St. Bart's says Americans have been going from the French side to the Dutch side to eat in protest. Even though the food on the Dutch side is terrible."

"For the first time in our lives we're taking out travel insurance. At least we won't lose the deposit."

"They have to refund the deposit in the event of war, or natural disaster. Or both."

"Don't act like an American. That means no walking down the street drinking a soda, and no Oakland Raiders hat."

"We're staying home. It's the only place we feel safe. Well, not exactly safe. But safer."

"I never thought I'd say this, but maybe we'll all be safer in Europe."

"How can I complain? My sister's daughter is spending the year in Israel."

"I don't really believe the give peace a chance decal is just to make it easier to find your bag on the carousel."

"I wouldn't go to Paris if you paid me."

"She said, 'Mom, we're going to this crummy little place on the Gulf to tan and party.' And you know what? That sounded fine to me."

"Does anybody know how Mexico voted on the U.N. resolution?"

"I'm afraid if we stay home the kids will just watch the war on television."

"I can't imagine that anyone would bother to bomb Club Med."

"Isn't Club Med owned by the French?"

"God, remember how easy this all used to be?"

"Don't you think the Caribbean is apolitical enough to be safe?"

"Can you imagine? A class trip to Washington? All the parents got together and said, 'I don't think so.' I wouldn't go to Washington right now if you paid me."

"We can't afford to travel anywhere this year anyhow."

"If anyone gives you a hard time because you're an American, just walk away."

"If anyone gives you a hard time because you're an American, just mention Normandy."

"If anyone gives you a hard time because you're an American, just punch his lights out."

"No Perrier, no Evian. That's how I feel. Thank God for California wines."

"Do you think people will think it's offensive if I order a kamikaze?"

"I know you bought that bathing suit last year, but there's something about camouflage that's really inappropriate right now. And provocative. Not sexually provocative, politically provocative."

"Man, there's just no place like home."

"Dude, you live in Manhattan."

"Have a good time. But be careful. And if the war starts call me right away."