Every so often, I venture out of my fortress of solitude and do something completely out of character. Last weekend was one of those times.
It was a themed 40th birthday party- the theme being “Capture the Flag”. Only in America does war game rhyme with birthday cake. I went partly out of fear that I might be deemed Sir Alec Baldwin for not loving up the red, white and blue hegemony to its most draconian extent. Eh forget that, the only reason I went is cause my girlfriend wanted me to go. She scares me more than Alec Baldwin ever could.
The rules of this war came simple enough. It strayed from simplicity inside the minutiae of asinine acronyms, battlefield maps and cocktail napkin strategies.
This was problematic.
See? . . . I’m a lone wolf personality- content to strike out on my own and complete whatever mission I’ve been assigned before the boss even knows I’m gone. And maps? The last time I bothered with a map was in the summer of 2003 as I was busy ending up in Stamford Connecticut . . . instead of New York City.
I dug the kitsch of this party- like using super soakers in lieu of real firearms. There was a medic and a priest and even protesters with string guitars and flowers in their hair. These peeps were big MASH fans, no doubt.
Alas, with every war game comes a general. Generals can be major assholes.
“We’ll split here . . ” Said the unofficial captain of our team, Steve. I dub him Eisenhower for the purpose of this recounting. Eisenhower loved to listen to himself talk. The rest of us weren’t so crazy about it.
“. . . after which we rendezvous on the North end . . .” As Eisenhower pointed into the evening mist, I took a sip of my beer. Then I pondered how prudent it was to be sipping beer right before battle. So I began guzzling.
Eisenhower had the lingo down cold, even if I couldn’t take a word of it seriously since he was toting a neon orange colored super soaker. Nerf and kill shot do not belong in the same sentence. The only thing he was missing were Beanie Babies for hand grenades.
“I’m going that way.” I said, pointing in the direction of a keg sitting prettily in the distance.
My girlfriend turned in my direction and smirked. “Always the wiseass . . .”
“No, I’m just a conscientious objector who’s got no use for the man and his wicked ways. This ain’t my war!” I replied.
With that, Ike turned away from me in a huff, redacting my very existence as he bothered himself with his pal Jim; I’ll call him Patton. Truth be told, our Patton would’ve had a hard time rounding up his Ikea team at closing time. After a protracted amount of time, my lady sidled up to me to find out what in the hell the cheesy machos were talking about. ”I’m pretty sure it has something to do with their non-existent sex lives.” I answered.
“Okay, it’s simple babe. We keep tight . . hold to our re-fill stations and above all else? Don’t forget where the kegs are located.” I said.
“Okay, I’ll follow you.” She smiled.
We traipsed, untended by friend nor foe for a good long time. With twenty acres worth of travel to the property, it soon became apparent we had trespassed off the fractional rectangle we had been accorded for this battlefield birthday jaunt. As a dude, there is no worse feeling than being lost without benefit of a gas station you can ignore in the doing.
“Do you have the map?” Asked my girlfriend.
“Why would I have a map when beer and tortilla chips are so much more important?”
As we bickered over the logistics of our slow crawl into oblivion, a shed came into view, and my thoughts meandered into more worthwhile pursuits.
“Let’s go inside.” I said.
“Why?” Asked girlfriend.
“Battlefield sex.” I replied.
“Keep moving, soldier.” She laughed.
“I’m serious. I’ve never been on a battlefield, I’m never going to be on a battlefield. This is as close as it’s gonna get for me. It’s easier to just surrender to my advance than to make me beg. So please . . please . . please!?“
“What happened to not begging?” She laughed.
“Oh, it gets way uglier than this . . believe me.”
We approached the shed cautiously, opening the door to find a fellow whose mug was a disturbing mix of Zero Dark Thirty and Sam Adams. He was seated at a table in the far corner, killing a cigarette in his best Martin Sheen pose as he looked in our direction. When his eyes moved right past me and fixed themselves to my creamy comrade, I knew he had something other than war on his mind.
“You get lost?” He asked, his eyes affixed to my girl as his fingers crawled inside a crumpled pack of Camels.
“Nah . . just being nosy.” I said, cursing his existence as I crossed battlefield sex off my bucket list.
For the better part of ten minutes, we learned the life story of Robert the groundskeeper. He had served three tours of duty, in matrimony. This produced a platoon of children and grandchildren to which he sported plenty of battle scars. In lieu of a purple heart, he possessed bills aplenty. Here was living proof that love is indeed war.
By the time we returned from our own personal Vietnam, the mess hall was kicking with grub and battle gossip. We learned, unsurprisingly, how the best laid plans of Ike and Patton had resulted in epic fail. For the red flag team, morale had quickly soured, after which our squad scattered- and from the looks of it, got really lit.
I began plotting my exit strategy after the presents were opened, being as how I’ve never been a fan of occupations. Why stick around to watch things go ugly, when post traumatic sex is way more fun?