Monday, August 31, 2009
"Dad, wake up".
I jolted upright and glanced at the clock. 7:50 AM. My alarm hadn't gone off. What the...? T-Bone, my fourteen year old son, stood in front of me, wearing the genuine US Army camouflage jacket we'd picked from a buddy who frequents military supply auctions.
Twenty minutes later, T-Bone, E (just turned thirteen), A-Rock (sixteen), and A-Rock's buddy James (all decked out in camo) were in the van. Lots of excited chit-chat...but underneath it all, there was an undercurrent of tension. We were all thinking it (except James, not prone to Bachmanian flights of dramatic fancy)...it just hadn't been brought into the open yet.
We are elite. We are the Overlords. We have a reputation to defend. We have a war to win; and winning it is up to us, and only us. If we fail, our whole team fails. If we succeed, our whole team succeeds. It is break or be broken now...and we will break them.
By 9:15 AM, after a McDonald's breakfast, we'd arrived at TNT Paintball, a half hour outside of Victoria. I'd called ahead - a group of 40 kids and parents were coming, plus a couple of dozen more drop ins. We were the first ones there.
"This is good", I said, as we picked out a corner of the barracks. "It gives us time to get in the zone. Like the Spartans at Thermopylae the night before the final battle, when they were all washing up and polishing their armour, focused and calm".
"Hey Dad", E piped up. "Did you know there's no evidence that Ephialtes the herdsman actually betrayed the Spartans and showed the Persians where the mountain pass was, or that he even existed?"
Not again, not E and his weird tangents. "What do you want, a videotape?", I shot back. "It was two and half millenia ago, and the Greeks have been talking about it ever since. That's probably as much proof as you could hope for. Anyway, let's focus".
This was serious, after all. We had been three times before. And each time, we - the four or five of us - had completely dominated, even over the 20-something-year-old ringers who go all the time and have all their own gear. I had even called ahead to alert the ref that we all needed to be on the same team.
"We're an elite squad of commandos", I explained.
"Oh yeah?", said the guy.
"Yeah. We don't split up".
"Well, how many people in your party?"
"Five. Myself plus a thirteen, fourteen, and sixteen year old. And my sixteen year old's buddy", I said.
"Gotcha". He sounded like he was about to laugh. Laugh at the Overlords? We were superheroes about to save the freaking universe! "Well, sure you can be on the same team", he said.
(More to come).