The first time I went paintballing, I was in 8th grade. It was the summer of 98, and my "brother" & I decided that skateboarding camp sounded like the perfect way to push our boundaries.
First. Skateboarding camp? Really? Yes. I did that. The camp consisted of 24 boys & me. It was 5 days of ramps, vert pipes, bowls and rails in the morning, Six Flags, Hurricane Harbor, Wave-runners & paintballing in the afternoon, and camping out in Malibu at night. Before you start thinking that I'm a skater-girl pro (because that was totally your natural inclination) I'll share with you a little story.
Day 1. Thinking that I was going to be cute and adorable for all the boys, I wore my short shorts & cute tee. This is how I learned a little something about skateboarding burns. The oh so smooth surface of sanded cardboard used to line the course, will leave a not so smooth scar of torn flesh in it's wake. So much for being cute.
Day 2. Now sporting my Jnco jeans (yes I was one of 'those' kids) I was ready to brave the park. My communist brother & I thought we could take the 10 ft bowl... so we confidently teetered on the top, counted to 10, and both dropped in. Well more like down. Lying flat on our backs, we cursed our ambition, and tried in vain to figure out a way we'd ever skate our way out. Forget skate our way out... just get out! At 4' 11" the lip of the bowl was just out of reach, and even if I did grasp the edge, my wimpy arms were useless. Yelling for help, we slowly realized that the park had emptied for lunch and they'd forgotten about us. A very sad 2nd day.
Day 3. Having given up on my dreams of competing at the X-games, I was lulled into a comfortable routine of watching the more talented, while carefully avoiding the bowl, and any other seemingly dangerous activities. Completely unprepared for what I was about to experience, we were piled into a car, taken to the paint balling field, and each given a shooter gun. They only held 8 shots each. Then then paired us up with "walk-ons" which basically were ex-military training with machine guns. We were like lambs to the slaughter. I was already bruised & burned & now they were firing paint balls at me! It was the icing on the cake to an already crazy week & I swore, this was the first & last time I'd ever paintball.
Flash forward to 9th grade. It was my friend Will Katz's birthday & he absolutely wanted us all to go paintballing. No exceptions. I recalled back to my first experience & thought to myself, maybe it wasn't really that bad. I'd had two horrific days beforehand which didn't add to the memory, but I psyched myself up believing this time would be different.
My friend's dad shot me 3 times in the back from about 5 feet away. He drew blood. I couldn't lie down for a week.
By 11th grade, I fully knew I didn't want to go paintballing when my friend Gabe's uncle was opening a new park & invited us to scrimmage with the regulars. Called all forms of a wimp, I told all these newbies they'd understand soon enough, but I bucked up, wore my ski parka, and hit the field.
This time I went home with a bruise on my hip the size of a baseball.
So it's been 8 years since my last experience. 8 years I've successfully avoided being shot at. 8 years until my best friend guilt-ed me into 1 more time.
This is what happened to her. Me? A few more bruises & scrapes, but maybe I've grown just a little tougher since my wee tiny days. Don't get me wrong, it still hurt, but at least this time there wasn't any blood.