…And other graduation speeches I won’t write.
Last night a group of friends decided to race to the nearest Laser Tag arena after work. Unfortunately, most of us had work, so we managed to only get there an hour before closing. I’m sure the workers were more than delighted to see nine very loud and foul-mouthed college students come pouring in the door just to catch the last session.
I’d thrown out the suggestion that we go play sometime at the beginning of the summer, and found myself incredibly nervous to actually play. I’d only gone once (a birthday party where I believe I was the only girl) and the combination of not-knowing, imminent possible physical activity and tiny children was a sure-fire way to get my anxiety going.
Needless to say, we got our collective asses handed to us by a group of kids and their parents, who seemed to take even more delight in just following us around constantly tagging our vests while their kids ran into home base. You know the arrogance of a child that knows they’re truly good at something? Like they aren’t being pandered to by adults or let win? There were approximately 800 of them there and they were all running and yelling in the dark while fog machines went off and ALSO there were lasers.
It was when I was leaning against a wall, four tiny kids constantly shooting at me with their later guns, laughing hysterically as I heard my friends yelling things like ‘HAVE WE STARTED?” and “I DON’T KNOW HOW THE LAZER WORKS” that I realized something. Lazer Tag is a lot like college.
At the beginning, you’re funneled into a dark room with a assorted group of people you don’t know, told to get somewhere, given vague rules and sent on the way. You enter into a confusing maze of walls, and don’t get a starting bell. On our team was a mom who had to tell us that the game had started, right as three of us got tagged immediately. There’s also the imminent fear that you’re doing nothing right (we weren’t) and there’s no real point to it (there wasn’t) but it was extremely important to us suddenly to win (we lost both games). To add to the metaphor, people younger than us seemed way more qualified to be playing and knew way more about the game than we did (in my convoluted metaphors, these are high-schoolers). The parents are bored alumni who sometimes helped us out but mostly seemed to have fun watching us mess up. There was also a employee who would intermittenly wander through and offer advice to me that mostly constituted of ‘gotta say out of the lasers’ and ‘listen to the team leader’. The team leader, in our case, was a small child nick-named Panda who enjoyed screaming incomprehensible numbers at me regardless of whether I was firing, moving, or standing still. I’m not sure where he figures into the narrative of college, but I’m sure he’s there.
On the other hand, it was incredibly fun. Sure we lost, but it was incredibly worth it – and I’m not embarrassed to admit it. Those kids were ruthless, and earned their victory. It’s always fun to do new things, especially because I don’t know the next time I’m going to just be able to run into a laser tag arena. When we left, all of us were doubled over in stitches remembering highlights from the adventure.
It was great getting out of the comfort zone and doing something a little silly, a little embarrassing, and yes, childish. But that’s what being an adult is about! I can choose when and where to play laser tag, whenever I want to. Oh, and also I can drink. So I do win in the end.