Today I hit my “moving targets” 216 times and it felt good. Laser tag…. if you’re going to shoot anything or anyone, this is the way to do it!
Once or twice a year fourteen middle school-aged girls load into vans and head to an indoor laser tag facility in nearby Fall River, MA to play laser tag. It’s a darkened maze of ramps, hide-outs and over-looks with thumping music, random strobes and hoots from all the excited players… We played a total of three games, each lasting about 20 minutes in length. (Between games, young people hit the arcade that’s part of the facility.)
Teams have colors, this time red, blue and yellow and the goal is of course to hit an opponent’s vest with the phaser we are carrying, which seems easy enough to do. But their young, supple bodies move at lightning speed, stop, twirl, duck, and shoot with unnerving accuracy. Me, on the other hand, at 57, wider, and a whole lot slower, I chose my moves more carefully. You know, wisdom, life experience and all that. Sure. Still they spot me, shot me, easily. One girl shot me ten times in three minutes, each time whisking past me, stops, leans back and says, “Sorry Kevin,” then impishly blows me a playful kiss and runs away. Swell. Things are as they should be.
Twenty minutes per game doesn’t seem like much time, unless you’re playing, that is. During our third and final game I spotted an old chair next to the control room and decided to modify my strategy. I dragged the chair into a darkened corner thinking I’d just pick off the little rascals as they thundered by. Worked good, for about 10 seconds. In less than a minute I got hit by every kid in the place.
When each game ended, girls dashed to view the video monitor that shows who won, who shot whom and who had the most points. I got a drink of water and sit down and watch them watch the monitor as their stats roll up. “How come you don’t check your score, Kevin?” one asks. I smiled and answered, “My job is to make your score even better.”
Riding home they joke about how easy it was to “blast” Kevin. Glancing in the rear view mirror, I see smiling faces, nodding to the ever present thumping music. They laugh, twirl in their seats and make faces at the second van of girls traveling behind us. For now, the world is at bay, the weaponry used, just play. There were no tests to take, no tryouts, just fun for the very sake of it.
Arriving home, girls plop on the couches and chairs in our meeting place, waiting for parents to arrive. We close with our usual lit candle and settle into a noticeable moment of quietness. One girl says, “That was fun. I’m exhausted.” And I thought, perfect.