For the third year in a row, my son Sebastian decided that he’d like to play paintball with his buddies for his birthday. And every year I tell him I’m ALL IN! I may be the “old guy” that can’t run as fast as these teenagers but it doesn’t matter much when a paintball is flying at your ass. I like to think of myself as the savvy vet who has years under his belt. After all, I started playing paintball when I was a teenager and the original and only gun you could buy was the Splatmaster. A plastic, single pump piece of crap that only held 12 paintballs at a time. About eight of us bought it at our local hardware store and we’d play almost every weekend. It didn’t take long before we were all buying advanced guns and spending way too much money on gear. Including a silencer I purchased to go onto the end of my pistol. It created a cool muffled sound that was totally distinctive and told all my friends the end was near.
Playing with Sebastian’s friends compared to mine is a bit different. My buddies would take chances and didn’t care much about getting hit. The crazy death charge of a flag was all part of the game. A face shot was something you’d take with you to school the next week with pride. Which happened quite a bit because we played with only the old school shop goggles and no face shield. We didn’t have many rules besides play until we all ran out of paint.
I will say though that this birthday party things definitely got more intense. As the day came to a close and we only had about 15 minutes left in field rental, we all decided to play one more game. A judge suggested we play what he called “Iron Man.” A name that meant you’re only out if you call yourself out. Some reluctantly agreed but it was ON! We went to a speedball field where you don’t have any trees for cover, just geometric shapes in an area that is roughly 40 x 40 yards. When the horn sounded paint was flying everywhere. Kids were scrambling to find cover and not get hit as I decided to go straight up the middle of the field. I decided the only way I was going to call myself out was if I ran out of paint. Let’s just say that never happened.
I eventually got in a shootout with about 3 kids at a range of about 10 feet that resulted in welts on my back, side, and arm that will probably take several months to heal. Was it worth it? Hell yes. It was a total blast and took me back about 25 years. Sometimes the “old man” can even muster up some teen spirit or what many may call, “stupidity.” And next time they’ll know that unless I run out of paint I won’t be the one saying “OUT!”