My grand-nephew turned eleven years old recently (how did that happen, when he was a baby only yesterday?), and had a paintball birthday at Ferrymead Paintball. I was invited to join in the shoot-out shenanigans, and did ponder on it briefly before declining. My memories of the original paintball game here in Canterbury, NZ, many many moons ago, called the Ultimate Game, was that those paintball pellets hurt like f*k when pelted with them from those air rifles. Plus, my pride didn’t want me to show myself up as likely being the oldest and weakest link on the team. Still, I must admit there was a little bit of residual hankering to join in ………..
For the most part, the paintball war party was a ‘boy affair’, comprising both big and little boys and one girl. The spectator party, made up mostly of women and girls, ended up being rather a fun affair, too, even though the division of the sexes like that could be construed as awfully gender stereotypical when viewed from above. However, sometimes the divisions aren’t always as bad as they might look. Not that there was much to see for the spectators on this occasion, as the game took place at the furthest away section in the paintball arena.
After seeing the boys off to go and duke it out in the arena, the boss-man of the paintball business came over to have a chat with us spectators. He assured us that they had lower-powered guns for women and girls, because he realised that we had softer skin. Of course, there’d be some who would think that a few of us were actually fairly thick-skinned, but it’s mostly us ol’ chooks who enjoy that advantage 😊 Then he went on to tell that the oldest person he’d had play the game was an 83-year-old bloke who apparently had had a ball, which I don’t think I was wrong in guessing was indirectly directed at we the aforesaid ol’ chooks. Anyway, the boss-man of the joint sweet talked us into considering that a girl-only paintball party might be a bit of fun to arrange. The birthday boy’s younger twin sisters, who had been banned from partaking in the birthday boy’s paintball game due to being considered too young, were especially keen. Watch this space.
I confess that the best entertainment, though, came not from the boys duking it out, which as I mentioned we could barely see, but came unexpectedly from the boss-man when another party of boys came in to have a session. Having been in the business for a while, he clearly knew boys – and knew that boys between the ages of around 10 -12 as these boys were – needed special treatment, so he gave it to them. The first we knew that the real entertainment was about to begin was when a sergeant-major voice suddenly boomed out. This sweet-talking-to-the-girls boss-man transformed into a don’t-mess-with-me boss-man when he started addressing the group of around eight boys. I didn’t hear the same tone when he addressed the boys in our group, but maybe that’s because there were some grown-up boys amongst them who appeared to have some maturity with their age – a combo that’s not always guaranteed.
Boy, did he give it to those boys. It was an unashamed treat to observe. From the looks on their faces, I don’t think they’d ever been spoken to like that before – lol! We Boomers were sniggering a little more than any other adults there, I confess. Having said that, the man who had accompanied the boys definitely didn’t look unamused, either. Knowing that paintball has an element of danger for eyeballs if the full-face masks provided are taken as an optional extra and removed when they get hot inside, the boss-man hammered it home with the full force of his blunt instrument of a voice. First of all, he told them in no uncertain terms that he wasn’t their friend, he was their paintball boss and they’d better listen to him or not be there and did they understand? There were nods all round. But that wasn’t enough – he demanded to hear them say it. They dutifully did. Then there came ten press ups and running five times around the building and yard, followed by five more press ups before he let them start kitting up for the game. Yep, the boss-man knew boys.
Our party came back suitably hot – especially under the full-face masks – overalls splattered with paintball badges of honour, and hyped with stories of their derring-do. Birthday boy proudly showed off a red mark on his back where a paintball had found a rare soft spot on his body. If it developed into a bruise, then his day would be complete. Nothing like a good show-off trophy to take home with one after a good ‘bash’, eh?