Just when I thought that I was done with the endless kiddy parties, my 13 year old got an invitation to his best friend’s paintball party. RSVP’ing with regrets and sending a gift was out of the question. Plus it didn’t seem that bad, a day of running around outside with a bunch of kids, shooting at each other with brightly colored toy guns. What could go wrong?
The paintball place was located on the grounds of the local ski area. We were waved through the main gate by a big dude standing in the flat bed of an over-sized monster pickup truck. He was decked out in full camouflage gear. At this point, I figured that they were going for an authentic look, much like civil war reenactments.
We drove up, up the steep and rocky ski slope road and finally turned into an enormous dirt packed parking lot, filled with what appeared to be, hundreds of marines in full tactical gear. They were dressed in camouflage jump suits, shit kicker boots, face masks, and had BIG, very authentic looking guns slung across their beefy backs. I glanced over at my little prince in his Flow Society lacrosse shorts embossed with purple and green hippos. His eyes were popping out of his head.
I willed myself to be cool and lead by example. But I could have kicked myself for wearing a bright pink skirt, white eyelet shit with a Peter Pan collar and white Keds. My panicked, bug eyed face stared back at me from the rear-view mirror. I turned and grinned a big, fake smile at my son. We parked next to what looked like a squad of Navy Seals, obviously getting ready for serious maneuvers. This place was Fort Bragg North.
I had to develop a battle strategy but how? Then it hit me, harder that a case of C rations. I’d call the most intrepid Marine that I know, Tanya. Yes, I said Tanya, not Timmy or Tommy. This woman is the real deal. Tanya may look like a winner of the Hawaiian Tropics Beauty contest with her Caribbean blue eyes, sun bleached hair and bikini worthy bod, but she is a true soldier, veteran and patriot. I knew that Tanya could talk me through this.
I grabbed my weapon of choice, my new cell phone, only to discover that there was no cell phone service in boot camp. We were deep in country. I couldn’t talk to Tanya but I settled for the next best thing. I channeled her and here’s what she ordered me to do.
“Get your candy ass out of the car and make your writing group proud!”
I put on a fresh coat of lipstick, held fast to my big fake smile, locked eyes with my son, and in my toughest, macho mom, take no prisoners voice, commanded, “Come on Let’s find your squad.”
We walked into what looked and stunk like a Marine grade bunker, filled with more GI Joe’s. The birthday party attendees were huddled in the corner. I locked eyes with the Birthday Boy’s father and tried valiantly not to shriek, “What the F*** were you thinking? You didn’t have to be clairvoyant to get my message.
“I know, I know this wasn’t what I was expecting either,” was his feeble greeting.
“No Sh** Sherlock!” I screamed back telepathically while maintaining my big, fake smile. I didn’t want to scare the bejesus out of the boys. Plus, I was beginning to fear for the birthday boy’s dad because he looked like he just stepped out of a J Crew ad, and the troops were circling.
The Drill Sergeant suddenly bellowed to report to the rally point for team briefing. I grabbed Mr. J Crew by his peach colored polo shirt and told him to slip out the back and set up base camp at Dunkin Doughnuts, 4 clicks down the road.
I quickly jammed the birthday party boys into full camo jumpsuits and smeared a little black war paint on their faces. Magically, they blended in with the other soldiers.
The Drill Sergeant was a dead ringer for my favorite action star Dwayne Johnson, Aka The Rock. With him running the ops, I was confident that the mission would be a success.
I circled back at lunchtime to make sure that the boys were still breathing. Much to my joy, my son triumphantly announced that he captured the flag for his entire team.