Sunday, September 23, 2012

Paintball, and the state of our economy

They say the economy is at its worst since the Great Depression, and yet there are professional paintball leagues. There are enough people with enough money that they can afford to buy balls of paint for one-time use against the hindquarters of strangers.

I hear during the Great Depression they chucked dead squirrels at each other for fun. Then they cooked them for dinner. Just a little historical perspective.

Paintball is an expensive hobby; cost-wise, it ranks just above hang-gliding but just below self-publishing.

The fancier guns alone can cost a grand (and often are not even referred to as "guns," but as paintball "markers.") Unlike the "markers" which teachers use on dry-erase boards, these can fire a dozen .68 caliber skin-stinging balls per second.

Let me just say this: I know a few teachers who would like to have one of these babies.

As long as such hobbies thrive, we know we are not yet at the abyss. Economically, at least. Culturally? Well.

Fun paintball facts:

There is a World Cup of paintball. Yes, I said a World Cup of paintball.

Players hide behind inflatable bunkers. Yes, I said inflatable bunkers.

Last year, the Tampa Bay Damage won the Cup, beating out 270 teams. Yes, I said 270 professional teams.

Actual quotes from the rule book:

"A squeegee is not a barrel plug."

"Beaver tails are required for all Auto Cocker markers."

"A player who deliberately uses a non-participant as a shield will be eliminated."

Samples from a glossary of paintball terms:

"BYOP": bring your own paint

"Dorito": a pyramid-shaped bunker

"Guppy": a paintball refill canister

"Pants": an expression, meaning "cool," as in "Dude, the way you hosed that Dorito was totally pants."

"Shake 'n' Bake hopper": I don't really care what this means. I am in love with it.

Actual team names include Portland Uprising (which sounds like something which might happen if they ran out of sandals) and Omaha Vicious (because when one thinks "ruthlessly cutthroat," one thinks "Nebraska.")

There is a team named Chicago Aftershock (Possible motto: "Illinois. Earthquake capital of the United States.") Not to be outdone in the category of inexplicable references, landlocked Indiana has its own team, Indianapolis Mutiny.

Call your bunch of guys what you want, but to me all this means is there is enough disposable income around to prove we are doing O.K. We're gonna make it. In fact, I'll just say it: We're totally pants.

. . .