Anyway, that's not the point of this post. I am writing this to warn you about two new things I've tried this week that have left my body bruised and battered.
The first one is paintball. A few days ago I piled into a jeep with my uncle and seven cousins and drove to a paintball range. If I hadn't know it was for paintball, I would have thought the area was a creepy junk yard or abandoned hobo camp. Basically, it was a wooded area filled with heaps of old tires, broken down vehicles, and planks nailed to trees. These are what you use for cover as you attempt to shoot the opposing team.
I was looking forward to blasting my cousins with paint bullets, but when the marshal laid the heavy, black rifle in my hands, all I could think was What if this were a real weapon? As I donned my black gas-mask type helmet and followed my cousins out to the range, I couldn't help but imagining what would happen if this were a real battlefield. If I was actually a soldier in war, out to shoot and get shot.
Pushing these sobering thoughts aside, I crouched behind a pile of tires and dutifully did my best to shoot the small, yellow paint pellets at my family members. I also got hit quite a few times, and let me tell you something: the bullets hurt. And it's never just one bullet at a time; it's four or five, shot quickly and haphazardly. Most of them don't even break when they hit you; they simply smash into your skin and then bounce off, unbroken. After a few rounds I really wasn't feeling it, and I decided to sit out the rest. There's just something stressful about running around the woods and knowing at any time someone could let loose a round of bullets at your body.
Back at home, we compared bruises. My legs were completely demolished; I had some gnarly scratches from where I had run through brambles, multiple bruises across my knees and calves, and one distinct red mark from where a bullet had made direct contact. Was the pain worth it? No.
I thought that was the end of my bodily mutilation. And today, when my aunt suggested a friendly competition involving two teams of cousins using a giant sling shot to launch water balloons at each other, I readily agreed. Who doesn't want the chance to peg someone with water balloons via a huge sling shot?
The first few rounds were great. A few rounds in, I linked arms with my team mates and watched as the opposing team readied themselves from twenty-five feet away. Oh, what the heck, why didn't we get a little closer, make it a little easier to hit the human targets? Great idea. We shuffled up five or so feet.
My cousin plucked a bloated, pink balloon from the cooler and placed it gently into the fabric of the slingshot. He grabbed the handle and pulled back, the elastic stretching. I watched as he crouched to the pavement, squinted, aimed, and released. There was no time to react. The balloon slammed into my thigh with deadly speed and accuracy.
|yes, a water balloon did that to me!|
Without me, the rest of my team continued, but--I kid you not--the next balloon fired slammed my cousin right in the stomach. She crumpled to the ground, clutching her ribs. It didn't leave the same horrible mark as it did on me, but she's having trouble bending over just the same.
I sit here a veteran of two dangerous games I shall never take part in again. Learn from my battle wounds. The pain is not worth it.