So school is out and the young people will be up to some healthy and perhaps not so healthy summertime pursuits and I don't mean adding a new app to keep them quiet on a trip to the mountains that they probably won't even bother looking at.
I heard kids who enjoyed a paintball war game the other day. I've never donned the paintball gear and participated and I suppose I'm well past the point of wanting to. But when I heard them talking about the experience, it evoked a memory of a long ago summer vacation decision that we made as a group of kids who were slightly bored just four or five days into our summer.
We didn't go to any summer camps. Some of us worked or played ball all summer or a combination of both and when we got time off for a Saturday matinee at the theatre, we took full advantage of it.
In our “hood” there was the regular gang of about six that could be extended to eight or 10 if we added girls and expanded the definition of neighbourhood.
This was one of those extension mornings.
Casual conversation among the eight of us heading over to Sings convenience store to pick up some Kool-Aid, revealed that collectively, there were four owners of BB guns and they were bored with aiming at cans and crows. By the time we returned from Sings, a distance of three blocks, we had formed a bad game plan.
Four donned their winter parkas and became the hunted or the prey. Four others got to be the shooters. The neighbourhood became the battleground. Homes with lots of windows were out of bounds ... maybe. Nobody crafted a clear definition. We didn't excel in making rules, but one we had we decided to keep, was not to shoot the BBs at anyone's face. Good choice.
Parkas were necessary because as anyone knew, who had been shot by a BB at less than 10 yards, it kinda stung. Our regular stream of pet dogs and cats were also off limits to the shooters.
The game lasted several hours. We skipped lunch, exchanged roles from time to time, and of course, it was one of those kids games where nobody needed to keep score. Yep, there were a few swear words exchanged on occasion. There was even a fight when one “shooter” got too close to a crouching parka-clad victim before letting him have it right in the gluteus maximus. That fight was more a matter of pride than injury.
When matinee time rolled around at the Vogue Theatre, we were exhausted. Those in parkas were hot and clammy, so the game ended with a truce. We climbed on bikes or ran to the theatre, purchased our red licorice whistles that we could turn into pea-shooter like instruments and spent the rest of the afternoon firing red licorice missiles toward the cowboys on the screen from the front row seats.
Now in retrospect, this column comes with a warning. In today's society, shooting BB guns at someone is unlawful and rightfully so. They hurt. I don't know about paintballs, but BBs hurt. They don't hurt as much as a Joey McMahon fastball in the ribs in a Little League game, but almost as much.
So paintball games are legal. Red Ryder BB guns and parkas ... nope, at least I don't think so.
Of course that was a few decades ago, I don't think there was a local bylaw in my hometown that covered off stupid kids in parkas being hunted down by other none-too-bright friends on the prowl with Red Ryder BB guns.
Try it today, and you'll probably end up in court subjected to various sections of local bylaws and provincial edicts.
Back then, it was merely a well wasted Saturday morning where everyone escaped without injury except Dave, the guy who got shot in the buttocks ... his feelings were hurt and his pride was a little dented, but he got over it.