Trust me, I know how the deer feel

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 22, 2003

When I answered the phone and heard the familiar voice, I knew it couldn't be good. It was my former roommate from Georgia, and he was calling me about the big, annual paintball competition that he was taking part in deep in the Georgia woods.

Did I want to visit and go with him and his girlfriend was the question? I sat there with my mouth open while methodically rubbing my temples.

"I'm sorry, but I have to work this weekend," I finally said, adding such a sigh.

"Man, take the weekend off and go with us," he replied.

Again, I repeated my decline. I may have been born in the morning, but I was certainly not born that morning.

He and I shared a house together after he divorced, and having a huge rambling old house, I was glad to have some company. However, I never knew about his extracurricular activities outside our workplace; one being his enthusiasm for paintball fights.

I relented one Saturday and went to the field of battle with him and some others and quickly learned that there are some fanatics out there. I knew these were some hardcore paintball fighters when this one couple arrived in their matching storm trooper uniforms with an array of paint balls in various neon colors.

I sat back and watched a while until finally, my pal handed me goggles and a gun and put me in play.

Since he gave me the goggles, I figured that was all the equipment I needed, but I figured wrong. After about 10 minutes of hoofing around in the forest, I was sorta darting between trees when suddenly something exploded on my chest. All I saw was red as I fell backwards, thinking that I had errantly moved into some hunting club's line of fire and that some hunter thought I was the trophy buck to be taken down. I was bleeding to death and I would never see Alabama again.

When the others arrived at the scene, my pal said, "Man, you're dead."

I felt dead or surely that I was dying. Where was the paramedics rushing to the scene to save me, why did I not hear the sirens of emergency vehicles or the whirl of the LifeFlight helicopter rushing to save me?

Because no hunter had tagged me, but my pal had shot me from behind a tree with a double barrel of red paint.

After several hours of laying on the ground thinking I was bleeding to death, I slowly stood and walked back towards the parking area. Once there, I got back into my car and went home. As I looked into the mirror I saw the red paint was all over me. I carefully cleaned it off and then crawled into my bed. I was tired, exhausted and sore. I would have to be sure to thank my friend when I felt like it again.

That Monday, I took a lot of ribbing about my "near death" experience, and it was rumored I yelled out, "Take me now, dear God, take me now." I personally recall none of it.

I finally returned the favor a few days later when I accidently busted a bottle of bleach in the laundry room. Of course, this was right after he had taken his clothes in to be washed.

For months there after, I wore my red stained shirt, but at least people knew I had been in a paint ball fight. People who saw him just thought he was too dumb to use bleach.

So needless to say, I did not accept the invitation to the paint ball tournament. My belief is why should I run around and get "killed" for fun. If I want to have that much fun, I'll just call up my friend Kitty and have her pistol whip me.

Oh, and when he handed me the goggles that day, he neglected to tell me about all the other safety equipment the others were wearing. I think I should send him some more bleach for Christmas.

Jay Thomas is managing editor of the Greenville Advocate and can reached at 383-9203, ext. 136 or via email at jay.thomas@greenvilleadvocate.com.