with my plastic helmet liner
strapped about my chin, a world war 2 nazi ammunition
belt (brought back by my godfather from anzio) clipped
to my belt and a homemade wooden replica of a submachine
in my hand, i stand in a circle of similarly equipped
buddies. there are four of us. we are on the forested
side of open wire fencing that is covered in honeysuckle.
the 'enemy' is beginning to 'fire' from their position
behind the picket fence on the other side of the newly
mowed lawn. we fall to our respective tasks.
"p'dow, p'dow...p'wing!" a
vocal bullet ricochets nearby.
"bang. you're dead,
"am not..." comes
the reply from a crawling figure on the lawn.
"are so, i've got
you right in my sights. bang, bang...gotcha"
"uh, uh..." the
maddingly persistant soldier yells back, "i'm
in this big gully..."
"no fair!" a
cry goes up from our side as we realize they're trying
to use the same imaginary trench we invented in the
"that gully was further
back near the house".
"it bends this way
when it gets up here!" the voice returns.
"no fair!" the
howl goes up again.
finally, both sides tie
white cloths to the barrels of their toy weapons and
a representative of each army steps out upon the battlefield
while their comrades keep the proceedings 'covered'.
the soldier in question
lies patiently in his imaginary ditch as his commanding
officer and a member of the enemy forces engage in
a debate as to the proper location of this newly invented
"ok, it can bend here",
agrees one, "but it can't run up to the fence."
his opposite, recognizing
that insistance upon his envisioned layout would remove
all sport from the contest, relents and the action
over the sound effects
from the machine gun installation the unmistakable
whistle of a pretend mortar is heard. "bawoom!" there
is a notable pause in the activity.
"that was a mortar
shell, tipton! we gotcha!"
"did not..." comes
the valient, though hesitant reply "what?!" the
question asked in outraged unbelieveability.
"are you kidding?!
you were in the ditch weren't ya?"
"yeah, but i found
this cave and i crawled in just..."
"no fair!" the
familiar retort takes on a more intense pitch.
i began to see a pattern
here. "i'm gonna loop around behind them...",
i whisper to rob dorsey, "keep em busy".
he looks a little puzzled
but nods and i'm off through the brambles that grow
on the outskirts of my backyard while under a flag
of truce the discussion about the placement of the
cave location rages on.
i emerge in about seven
minutes time directly behind the enemy position. the
battle has resumed, and no one here has noticed my
maneuver. and with one long raking burst of "pap,
pap, pap, pap, pap, pap, pap, pap, pap...", this
particular battle is settled beyond question.
i will be almost forty years
old when i lament these victories during scenes of
military imitation and realize that it was not in the
winning but in the negotiating that i would have learned
the fine art of relationships. giving...taking...compromising...recognition
of competitive ethics. no wonder rob dorsey looked
at me strangely. he knew. the idea was to have fun,
not to win.