Monday, December 18, 2006

A Very Paintball Xmas Pt.2: Nothing Says Xmas Like Getting Shot by Your Sunday School Teacher

After a pretty disastrous first game (from my P.O.V. at least; I'm sure the SEALs team was fine with it), Shack-Fu rearranged teams a bit and set us up on an Elimination game. This time around I was with The Sniper and our team leader, another veteran player who, for lack of a better nickname I shall be calling Fearless Leader Juliet.* The Sniper set up in a nice ambush spot, with the idea being that Fearless Leader Juliet and I would draw the opposing team past him, but that unfortunately never came to fruition. Instead, our fearless leader tried his best to coach me through the action, which I again attacked in a typical "bull in a china shop" fashion -- grace, thy name is not Todd, but klutziness, thy name may very well be.

Still, I was feeling a lot better about this scenario and its much more straightforward setup - - kill 'em all and let Shack-Fu sort 'em out - - despite the fact that my not-so-stellar vision was being worsened by the one-two combo of fogged up glasses and safety visor. Surprisingly enough, not being able to see worth a damn is a bit of a detriment to effective paintballing - - who knew?

My first exchange of fire with the opposing team ended with my getting hit in the left wrist. I called for a paint-check, which should have stopped the action, but some over-zealous soul on the other team kept firing and pelted my fearless leader. Fortunately, the hit on him was ruled null; unfortunately, The Sarge confirmed that I was muerte, so I retired to our base flag to get out of the way of the action. Soon after, our fearless leader was nailed in the back by PigPen, who was perhaps a bit too enthusiastic about his first kill of the day ("I got him, I got him in the back! I saw that puppy break!"). After a brief period of inactivity, Shack-Fu decided to start respawning players. I, being the first out on my team, was first back. Shack-Fu counseled me to move forward, and I advanced on what turned out to be Cookies (a.k.a. Squiggly). Our encounter went like this:

Me: Surrender!
Cookies: Don't shoot!
Shack-Fu: [shouting] Shoot at him, Cookies!
Me: [startled, pulls trigger]
Cookies: Ow! You shot me!

In my defense . . . okay, I have no defense; I'm a bad, bad Sunday School teacher.

After shooting a harmless player who was trying to surrender, I fell back to my respawned leader's side. After Fearless Leader Juliet instructed me to take up position behind some cover on the hillside, Shack-Fu announced that there would be no more respawning. I suppose I should mention at this point that my teammates had apparently been able to bump off members of the other team as well, since they were having to spawn back in along with us, but who got hit when by whom is totally out of my knowledge base; all I knew was that none of the hits were from me. Anyway, somehow through the haze of my fogged lenses, I was able to make out some enemy shapes across the trail and opened fire. At first, their return fire was exploding in the branches around me, but not hitting me, but I soon heard a thud, followed by PigPen shouting that he had hit my gun's hopper; fortunately, a hit on the hopper is not considered a fatality in Shack-Fu's rules. Or, maybe that should be unfortunately, as PigPen, upon being informed that I was still a viable target, yelled out "Okay," opened fire again, and then hit me right on the right knuckles**. I shouted "I'm out!" and stalked back to my home base past Shack-Fu, who asked if I was okay; I managed to get out a quavering "I'm fine" before continuing my dejected walk back.

At that point I was frustrated; not as frustrated as I would have been if I had known at that moment that PigPen had managed to hit me with his very last round of ammo, but frustrated nonetheless. You see, somehow, towards the end of that game, some switch had gotten thrown in my head, and I actually started to get into it; I stopped thinking in terms of "What did I let Shack-Fu talk me into," and started thinking in terms of "I'm going to go kill me one of them there [expletives deleted]." So of course, no sooner do I get into the spirit of things, then I get knocked out for good. As far as emotional rollercoasters go, that one was a pretty steep rise and drop. I did receive a quick pick-me-up as, from a distance, I witnessed PigPen once again living up to his name, this time by failing to safely traverse the deceptively deep muddy puddle in his path; I know he was trying to clear it, but from my P.O.V. it looked like he dove straight into it.

I'm still a little unclear on what exactly happened at the end of that game; all I know for sure is that The Ghost came charging down the hill where I had previously been stationed, firing on Fearless Leader Juliet and rushing past The Sniper, who yelled out "Surrender!" as The Ghost zipped by. The Ghost didn't respond, so The Sniper opened fire, striking The Ghost multiple times; but, since The Ghost never called out that he was hit, The Sniper kept firing, thinking to himself "Why won't you die?!?!?!" The Ghost fired off one last shot, hitting the Sniper in the face mask, and then decided that it was time to give up.*** I'm assuming that The Ghost was the last member of the other team still standing, since gameplay stopped right after that, but how the others got eliminated, I haven't the foggiest. Thus, the perils of narration by a combatant are evidenced.

By that point it was starting to get late so we packed it in and headed back to the vehicles, where I apologized to Cookies for shooting her earlier. Her response? "That was you?!?!?! That's it, you're not getting any cookies!"

When oh when will I learn to keep my mouth shut?

A few of us headed to Jack in the Box afterwards. Since Cookies had left her purse back at Shack-Fu's house, I offered to cover her; she's determined to pay me back, but I, horribly repentant for my shameful actions during the game, shall not allow it, thus managing to assuage my guilt for under $5; not a bad price for penance, huh?

So, in the end, what was my impression of my first official day of paintballing? To be honest, I'm still processing. I wouldn't say it was a fun day, per se; the combo of my competitive nature (which most of the Singles have yet to really witness, methinks) mixed with frustration and embarrassment over my general cluelessness and lack of skill pretty much took their toll on me. And yet, there at the end that switch got thrown, and for a brief moment my outlook shifted - - until PigPen sent me crashing back down to earth, but, hey, what else are roommates for?

Of course, I realize that whether I enjoyed myself or not is a moot point; much like an unsuspecting fool who unwittingly invites a vampire into his home, my partaking in paintball a single time has left me vulnerable to Count Shackula's mind-jitsu. Why, just last night I was thinking to myself how it was too bad my parents have already done my Christmas shopping before I could ask for any paintball supplies . . .

Curse you, Shack-Fu! Get out of my head!

*After Squiggly was dubbed Cookies, talk had turned to their usual tactic of nicknaming people according to the first letter of their name and the corresponding call-sign from the International Code of Signals. J=Juliet. Sorry, dude.
**Note to self: Ouchie; buy gloves before you let yourself get dragged out again.
***Yes, there was a "give up the ghost" pun floating around in there somewhere; no I didn't feel like making it; yes, I know referring to it now is kind of a waste of your time; no, I don't feel sorry for that.