What did I expect?
Hindsight always is 20/20, but sometimes you don’t need Nostradamus to figure stuff out ahead of time.
“We always play paintball the day after Thanksgiving,” my friend Bruce told me. “You want to join us?”
Up went several red flags, none of which prevented me from answering, “Sure!”
The good news, after the fact: no broken bones. The bad news, otherwise: ouch.
For those who’ve never indulged, paintball goes something like this: A bunch of folks run around in the woods shooting small round dye markers at each other. It can be a lot of fun, especially if you’re a thin 20-something with plenty of energy.
I’m flabby and 40-something, at least for a few more weeks. My “running around” Friday mostly consisted of ambling a short way to hide behind some kind of barrier, then hoping I didn’t get plugged.
All paintball players must wear a protective helmet, which is good for keeping your eyes intact, but not so hot for seeing where you’re going. At one point, I tried to move abruptly and tripped over a log, sending me straight to the ground.
That ended up providing a fairly good vantage point to try to shoot the guys who were shooting at me. Eventually, a paintball struck my gun, meaning I was “dead” and had to leave the playing course.
To do so safely, you’re supposed to put your hands over your head in the classic “surrender” position, so that opponents know not to shoot you again. My problem was that I had to struggle to pick myself up from lying prone, and I couldn’t get my arms in the air immediately.
My friend Tom, who was about 20 yards away, let me have it right in the chest. After I explained that I was supposed to be a corpse, he apologized profusely.
I forgave him, but I knew the spot he hit was going to be hurting Saturday.
It certainly did. But it wasn’t alone. A shoulder and thigh also stung from paintball blows. My back, legs and neck ached from overexertion. And I’m not sure what I did to my left heel, but it looks as if I’ll be limping for a while.
Mrs. Funk had no sympathy. She simply shook her head and asked, “What did you expect?”
A world of hurt, thank you.
It was a heck of a lot of fun, though, especially when I’d be peppering an opponent’s position with paintballs until he finally threw up his hands. I might be a pacifist, but I’ll admit to getting a thrill out of conquering the enemy, especially when I’m going to be laughing it up with him a few minutes later.
So I’m fairly sure that I’ll be back out there on the day after Thanksgiving next year. In the meantime, I’ll stock up on aspirin.
Harry Funk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.