It’s true.I’ve been relatively sheltered and spent much of my childhood playing with chickens and cows and such instead of participating in the cartoon-watching and skateboarding and playing of video games that sucked away the childhoods of most of my peers.
On Thursday, I got to do one of the things I’d never done before, something that most everyone else my age (and those younger, certainly) have done for birthdays or special occasions. I’m now one step closer to filling in the gaps of my deprived childhood. On Thursday, I got to play LASER TAG.
Dude! Laser tag! Picture this: a group of 12 people ages 21-29 standing in a circle, slapping the hard plastic “activator” against their hands, raucous and noisy and laughing like little kids. The actual little kids, standing a few feet away, just stared. We waited for our first “mission” after deciding upon our “secret code name”s. For the first game, my secret code name was Meep.
A pasty, somewhat pimply 16 year-old led us into the “staging area” and read us the rules, showed us how to use the guns and target vest, and let us in. We used our activators to tell the laser guns which “secret code name” we were (mine said “WELCOME, MEEP”), and we were given a 30-second countdown to find a good spot – at which time, the music came on and woo! it was time to start shooting people!
Entering the plywood maze full of blacklight paint, I got hit with a warm wall of stale, slightly marshmallow- and sweat-scented air (from the fog machine and the fact that they kept the room at about 85 degrees). Our target vests blinked green and red and we ducked and ran and shot. Lasers! Frickin’ laser beams! There were 30 players and several were under 4 feet tall. After shooting a bunch of people in my group (every man for himself, yo. No teams! It’s part of the rules!) I found myself frequently ganged up on by a roving pack of 7-year-olds. They barely reached my belly button and were at the perfect height to hit my front target and they DIDN’T SHOOT EACH OTHER but were like little hyenas, preying on anything they could see and heckling.
Damn little kids. At first, I had been reluctant to use my superior strength and hand-eye-coordination, but after the hyena treatment all bets were off. Up and down the ramps, under the overhangs, through the windows, we shot and covered, shot and covered, and when hit had about two seconds of little death. In the first little death, I actually felt kind of sad – and then the adrenaline began to flow.
The time was up and we stampeded out of the game room to view our scores. Out of the 30-odd players in game one, MEEP came in at #13. Woot!
A few minutes’ rest in which we sweaty sweaty adults mopped our brows and guzzled root beer and diet coke (didn’t even think to bring water), and then it was time for round two. We all agreed that damn, those little kids had been ruthless, and this time there was going to be no sympathy and no mercy shown. Some of us teamed up, declaring pacts not to shoot each other. Others just decided to go their own way, but still, we more or less had an agreement – it was better to shoot everyone else (especially the hyenas!). “WELCOME, FIRE BAD” announced my gun, and then we were off and lost in the glow paint plywood maze again. This group had other little kids and what might have been a JV Volleyball team, all tall blond girls with knee braces dressed in black tank tops and tiny shorts. The girls were an easy target, and wailed as our group accosted them from above. The little kids in this game weren’t nearly as coordinated, and many of them felt the wrath of my laser beam without ever seeing it coming. “Stop shooting me!” one kid said to me at one point. “It’s not fair!”
But it was fair. All is fair in the game of Laser Tag. At the end of round two, I’d done a lot more damage to a lot more 7-year-olds (and the JV Volleyball Daisy Duke Squad) and I knew the maze better, the layout of the hot room, which places one could hide and ambush people who came by. I was awesome.
And then, the results – FIRE BAD was number 12 in a game of 40 people. Woohoo!
The best part of playing laser tag? Learning everyone’s secret code names and then getting the printouts of who had shot who in which target how many times. Well, the best part was shooting people, but the second best part was learning how well you’d shot those people. In my humble opinion, what could be more fun than essentially playing a live-action video game? Where you get to shoot people with FRIKKIN LASER BEAMS!
Laser beams, dude. Awesome.