I’ve been sitting on this particular post for a while now. The last few months has bore witness to snow storms, weddings, my sister’s new house (to-be-constructed), my brother’s new house (to-be-bought), and a burgeoning addiction to Blizzard’s Hearthstone, which like all obsessions in my life (i.e. women, writing, chess, MMORPGs) I kinda suck at. As such, the blog has received the short-end of the time-sink, a fact I’d remedy here soon. We may have received tickets to Comicon in San Diego this summer. More on that later! In the meantime, join us as the Murphey clan goes laser-tagging, much to our own amusement.
“Blimey, ‘ere we ‘ave the female white girl in ‘er natural attire,” Sean whispered to Shannon in his best – that is most stereotypical – impersonation of the crocodile hunter. “Brown boots and leggings, tools of cunning to attract potential mates . . .”
“Shutup, Sean,” Bree snarled strapping on her suit, now glowing blue in the darkness. “I am not dressed like this to ‘attract mates.’”
She feigned a glancing shot with her laser gun at grinning brothers before continuing.
“That being said,” she sighed, juggling her gun from hand to hand, “if there are any cute boys when we finish. I don’t know you. Any of you. We’re just related.”
“We are related,” Kevin said, looking a little confused.
“Remember that,” Bree said, poking Kevin with the gun muzzle. “Don’t get any ideas again of pretending to be my boyfriend or . . .”
“Pimp?” Kevin suggested helpfully, triggering explosions of laughter from his older brothers. Kevin smiled with appreciation.
“Uhgg . . .” Bree groaned, swatting at Kevin who dodged the blow with the dexterity of an acrobat on a tripwire. “Do you realized exactly how degrading that is? I’m not a hooker!”
“That only happened once,” Shannon said, proffering a high-five to Kevin. “Besides it was damn funny.”
“Language,” Katie chided behind me. “Come on guys! I know Mom isn’t here but let’s curb the cursing. At least, whisper a little until the game starts . . . if the refs ever get here, that is.”
“Rodney should be here soon,” I said checking my cellphone. “Maybe they’re waiting for our entire party before we begin.”
Like dining at a fancy restaurant, laser tag arenas will not seat you until the entire party arrives. Rodney had somehow found himself lost en route, a fact which would merit some sympathy had the man not bragged about ‘crushing my soul like Jason Bourne crushes heads” — which doesn’t make any sense at all! It’s like comparing Steven Segal to Lord Byron.
As such, we had to wait for Rodney, who had found himself lost somewhere in the suburbs.
“Uhg, I hope they get here soon,” Katie sighed, adjusting her gear. “This vest is really chafing my boobs.”
“Language!” the boys shouted back at her.
“I think we can speak for all your brothers,” Sean said, entering lawyer mode, “when I say that we would like to hear less about your . . . lady bits. Do not mar the image of boobs in our minds by reminding us that you, sister dear, are also a girl.”
Kevin’s voice echoed behind me, almost in prayer.
“Anna Kendrick naked. Anna Kendrick naked. Anna . . .”
“There you go, bud,” Shannon whispered, wrapping his arms protectively around his little brother. “Breathe deep. Think of 50/50.”
“What’s he doing?” Katie asked.
“Girding his mind,” Sean said nonchalantly. “It’s a kind of protective spell to ward off the recent assault on a perverted imagination. Particularly when a nude sister is suggested.”
“ANNA KENDRICK NAKED! ANNA KENDRICK NAKED!”
“It also helps you get to sleep at night,” Shannon added.
“Eww,” the girls groaned. “Disgusting.”
The door to the battlefield opened behind us. Rodney stood silhouetted in the doorway, his gear draped akimbo on his shoulders.
“Don’t worry! The Rod Identity is here!” Rodney strode into the antechamber with his usual theatrical aplomb. “What’d I miss?”
“Just the instruction video,” Sean sighed.
“Oh!” Rodney paused, looking at his gun. “Anything I should be aware of?”
“It was kinda like those safety demos just before a plane flight. It’s probably important, but nobody listens. In much the same way, if anything does go wrong, you’re most likely screwed regardless.”
We had arrived fifteen minutes earlier to catch the 90’s style safety montage, which reminded me of a Saved by the Bell episode. Essentially, the ‘cool’ blonde kid strapped a flashing electronic vest to his chest and after firing upon a curly-haired ‘dork’ in glasses, high-fived a blonde Laser-World referee in an outfit which would incite a Hooter’s waitress to blush.
Our ref was nowhere near as . . . endowed. Or blonde. Or pretty. Or shapely. Or shaved. Or female. Or — upon second glance — perceivably male either. Rolls of fat engulfed any suggestion of gender, and a haughty condescending stare drowned all sense of pity. I expected a Pat or a Daryn (with a Y). As such, he (maybe) introduced herself (without visible proof) as Sam.
“Who’s the she-male?” Rodney whispered behind me.
“Alright, listen up! I’m only going to say this once,” Sam grunted, opening the door to the arena. Blackness interspersed with neon filled the space. Anyone unwise enough to wear white glowed purple in the blacklight. I took advantage of the momentary confusion to gauge the layout of our battlefield.
The area arched around to the left like an unfinished race track or the letter ‘U.’ On the left wall, a ramp led combatants to an upper level, offering both perspective and an alternate path to the downstairs maze of glowing pylons and broken foam walls. I felt that I had jumped into a computer or at least the set of Tron. My chest protector flashed as the referee led us to a nearby computer.
“This is your recharge station,” Sam recited without enthusiasm and a deceptive tenor. “When you run out of shots or get shot by a member of the opposite team, return her to your base for a recharge. You’ll be able to fire your . . .” — here Sam sighed — “. . . intergalactic laser rifle once again.”
“So that’s what this thing is called?” Ryan asked, innocently enough. Sam’s face puffed as if Ryan’s question was a peanut allergy.
“Yeah, that’s what your weapon is called. Aaand . . . over here, you have your base.” He brought us to two arches, adorned only with foam and a digital display near the top.
“There’s a similar ‘base’ on the opposite side, each with different point values: 200 and 100. Fire at the display to destroy the enemy’s base and earn points for your team. Any questions? No? Running in the dark or beating your opponents with your gun is strictly prohibited. Failure to comply may result in serious harm, incarceration, and mostly likely extra paper work for me. If you must physically assault a close friend or a total stranger, do so where Amy cannot see it. She’s a real asshole about the rules, and quite likely nag me until I contact the manager. Good luck.”
Sam closed the Q&A session before anyone could ask whether . . . Sam thought Amy was attractive or sported an Adam’s apple; instead our . . .guide choose to ignore several raised hands, and waddled into the maze. Seconds later, a tired teenage voice from the loudspeaker bellowed: “Okay . . . so Laser Battle begin in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 . . . . gooooo.”
Like in Tron, we split into blue and orange teams: Ryan, Kevin, Brigid and I versus Sean, Shannon, Katie, and Rodney. Other non-related laser-soldiers likewise choose their teams: pitting mother against daughter, nephew against awkward uncle, neighbor against crazy-cat-lady. War is hell.
Now two strategies emerged during the four rounds in the dark room. One, run toward your opponent’s base like a berserker and shoot like mad; this was Shannon and Sean’s plan. They rushed the base together and unless we encountered them somewhere beneath the bridge to the upper floor, Orange would manage to empty their clip into our base. The second option required Ryan and I to play conservatively and defend. After all, both of us knew that neither Shannon nor Sean could sit by while other attacked, so it might prove efficacious to pick them off one by one.
Brigid walked slowly through the mounds of neon shapes, carefully maintaining her boots after five steps. Kevin continued shouting his mantra and thus made an easy mark for every Christian mother in the game.
However, we learned that ‘killing’ a combatant required a barrage of bullets, nearly two or three minutes worth of constant fire. Also ‘killing’ an enemy combatant may earn a fair amount of glory but few points to your name. If you could sneak into the enemy base and fire a clip into the 200 point target, it always proved profitable.
I had no knowledge of this beforehand (the ref ignored a few of our questions, remember?). My focus was on Rodney and removing “The Identity” from play as soon as possible.
“Jason Bourne could kick Batman ass anytime. A world-class assassin versus a giant chicken-of-the-cave,” he bragged days before. “No contest.”
I consider myself a patient logical fan. As the world’s greatest detective, strategist and vigilante, the Dark Knight has his strengths, but he’s only a man and certainly not above getting defeated now and then. He’d definitely have trouble with Galactus, Marvel’s Devourer of Worlds. A few others too, but Galactus I’d say . . . might have a chance of beating him. I’d suffer an argument at least. But, besmirching Batman’s awesomeness? With Jason Bourne? Matt Damon? Sacrilege! It’s like spitting in John Wayne’s face or eating apple pie with anchovies. Some things just are not done.
Thus, we formed this . . . bet. Whoever beat the other would earn bragging rights for their fictional hero of choice. Based upon Rodney’s skills in COD, I figured my chances were pretty good.
Sadly, this was not to be. My brilliant stratagems succeeded in much the same way that a chess gambit trumps a rogue steamroller. When you focus on strategy of style over the strategy of victory, you have a tendency to get flattened into road-paste. Such was the case here. Rodney and his team of renegades trounced us three of the four matches.
“The Identity killed the Bat! The chicken-of-the-cave did not stand a chance,” Rodney preened afterwards.
“Cheater.” It was all I could say. “I fragged hordes of your team. The score doesn’t show that!”
“What it shows is that your morose knight chokes on Jason Bourne’s shapely spy rear! Murph, they didn’t hire me to kill. Anyone can kill. They seek me out because I don’t exist.”
“Dude, that makes no sense, and that comment about Matt Damon’s rear is, quite frankly, a little disturbing,” I laughed. “Oh well. Hey, you wanna come over and watch some movies later?”
“Yeah?” Rodney asked taken aback. “What you watchin?”
“Nothing special. It’s Oscar week on AMC. So, it’s the one channel where Jason Bourne is forbidden.”
“Oh no . . .”
“They might offer the Dark Knight though . . . Cause, you see it won an Oscar.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah . . .” Rodney sighed. “Anything else?”
I thought about it for a bit.
“How about Pitch Perfect? Kevin’s been asking to see it all night.”
“Deal,” Rodney laughed. “Sexy snark trumps superheroes, any day.”
“Amen, dude. Amen.”