War


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Just saw the movie Jarhead. Highly recommended. Seems to summarize (American) military life thusly: long hours of boredom interrupted by the occasional flurry of homoeroticism.

Reminds me of my one experience with paintball. Some months/years ago, a friend was getting married, so we –his droogies– agreed to play paintball in lieu of a traditional bachelor party. We didn’t have enough numbers to be able to play on the field by ourselves, so we were compelled to share the facility with some serious militaristic types who took the paintball lifestyle way too seriously. Strangely, some of the most hardcore players were these fellows with thick Serbian accents who came with their own expensive fully-automatic paintball rifles.

Now, you may be surprised to learn that I, Grandmaster Wat, after a lifetime of martial arts, war movies and video games, actually suck at paintball. You do not want me watching your six during a fire fight. I will curl up into a foetal ball or run away screaming like a little girl.

But this war-time dysfunction of mine was useful in using the game of paintball to try to see the world of the soldier. Or so I tried. Yet it was Good Ol’ Nojjy Boy who summed up our observations most poignantly and poetically. As we huddled in a darkened bunker on the paintball field while our erstwhile “friends” tried to pick us off one-by-one sniper style, he commented: “Now I understand war. Hiding in a bunker with Serbians, feeling simultaneously bored and terrified. This is war.”

(Really, it was much funnier when he said it aloud.)