Thursday, July 26, 2012

Kidnap Your Friend

I was thinking of some of the stupid things we used to do in high school today, and laughing about them. The thirty year reunion is this fall, and one of the few people I've remained in contact with asked if I planned on going.

I need to write her a letter. She still writes letters. She doesn't like e-mail.

I've thought about it, but in reality I don't know if I belong there. In the few years between my junior year in high school and the end of college in 1985, kids I had grown up with got married, and quite a few of them died.One was a suicide with a shotgun after his chance at playing pro football evaporated. Some of the kids I knew wound up in the justice system. Eric, the son of a California Highway Patrol officer, is serving life without the possibility of parole in San Quentin for a murder that happened when a drug deal went bad.

Back in the early 90's I had returned to my hometown for a wedding rehearsal. I stopped at the Texaco station next to the Denny's and McDonald's restaurants, fixtures on the main drag since I could remember. Working the register was a guy who was one of our high school's star athletes.

"Hey, man. I haven't seen you around in a long time. What are you doing these days?"

"Yeah", I said. "College and all. I'm an engineer for an electronics company. I'm just in town for a wedding. How about you? What are you doing?"

He kind of looked around and gestured expansively with his arms at the dingy, pale gray office and just said, "This."

Yeah, "this". Girls, parties, being part of the BP, "beautiful people", clique to being a gas station attendant.

Bruce Springsteen's "Glory Days" is echoing in my head right now.

I never had much in common with most of my classmates. I suspect that is probably even more true today.

But that doesn't change some of the things we did.

One was called KAOS. Killing As Organized Sport.

Everyone who wanted to play signed up. Most of the time you only knew another player if one of your friends signed up. You had absolutely no idea who in the entire student body was playing. Even some of the teachers played.

The person who handled the signups would throw everyone's sign up slip into a bucket. And a name would be drawn. The first name was the first target. The second name drawn would get a contract to rub out the first name drawn. The third name drawn would get a contract on the second, and on it went until the last name was drawn. The first name would be assigned the last name drawn as a target.

The person running the game would hand out the targets as they saw you around campus, or slip them into your locker. On the paper would be the date the game began.

As people were knocked off, the successful assassin would be assigned the target of the person whom they had knocked off. Each time you knocked someone off, they had to surrender their contract and you'd take it to whomever was running the game. They'd take the dead player off the roll and record your new target.

The object was to be the last one alive.

You could knife your target using a rubber or cardboard knife. You could shoot your target using a Star Trek Disc Gun, a rubber band gun, or these spring loaded pistols that fired rubber pellets. I can't remember what they were called, but they were around long before Airsoft guns. It had to fire a projectile, and you had to hit your target.

You could also bomb your target using an (had to be realistic looking) improvised explosive. Big Ben alarm clocks, electrical tape, and road flares were a hot commodity when these games were on. Practice grenades were also popular.

The rules were simple. At least two witnesses to confirm you had eliminated your mark, and no more than three could be present. If your mark became aware of your intentions and shot or knifed you first, he or she took your contract to the game leader and the next person who brought in a successful contract completion would receive you as a target, and you would get whomever they had acquired from their previous mark. Yes, that meant you had two targets to deal with.

Can you imagine the absolute pandemonium in a high school today if someone revived this game? Someone opens their locker to find a ticking clock attached to road flares. LOL!

The game was brutal. It led to the end of some romances as girlfriends killed boyfriends and vice versa. Kids were detained by police because they got caught on people's roof tops at night attempting to drop "bombs" down chimneys. The wives and husbands of some of the teachers accepted delivered "flowers" only to find a bunch of road flares and that ticking clock. Needless to say, some people just could not see the humor in it all.

One of the oddest games was called "Kidnap".

Sometimes you just got grabbed off the street, but most often someone would call the parents of the target ahead of time and inform them of the plan and make sure it was okay. Or they would just inform the parents when they arrived at the door. Some didn't like it and didn't go along. Many others laughed and joined in.

They'd call the kid down and tell them that one of their friends was waiting on the front porch. The kid would step outside to be greeted by four or five kids wearing pillow cases with eye holes cut into them. A burlap sack was dropped over the victim's head and they'd get rolled up in an old rug and put into the back of a van, pickup or station wagon.

This wasn't a consensual game. If you were good, the victim had no idea who had bagged them or where they were being taken. They would fight like hell.

I know. I fought like hell. I still don't know who bagged me. I know at least one was female. She screamed when I elbowed her breast.

The rules were simple. If you were the kidnappers, you couldn't permanently bind a person or put them in a situation where they could be injured or killed. No weapons or threats could be used. You couldn't target someone who was injured (wearing a cast, etc) or handicapped. You couldn't drop them in a location more than 10 miles (as the crow flies) from the point where you abducted them. There had to be at least one hour of daylight left, and it could not be inclement weather. You had to leave them with five dollars in quarters for payphones, etc. and a canteen of water. After dumping the victim, you had to inform someone at their home where they could be found.

They dropped me out of the pickup, and by the time I unrolled myself out of the carpet, they were gone. Around me was a valley with a few cattle. Through the rapidly gathering gloom of night, I made my way to the top of the taller of the two hills and took a look around. Enough landmarks were recognizable to pick a route home. I walked home and didn't get home until about 11:00 PM. They had bagged me at about 7:00 PM. I was pissed. A total waste of a Friday night, but I got $5.00 and a nice canteen out of the deal.

I mention this because it occurred to me that if you're a member of a group, this might be a great way to teach people self defense and dead reckoning skills. Just make sure everyone knows what's going on before you do it. Might be a good idea to make it consensual as well.

Things aren't what they used to be thirty years ago.




4 comments:

Craig Cavanaugh said...

Wow! We just had guerrilla style BB gun battles, and weekend long games of Capture the Flag out in the brush. When we weren't fishing or water skiing...

Kellie said...

Kids miss so much these days! My brothers would tie me up and leave me in the many strange places I would try to "follow without being seen" by them. I learned two things, how to track without being seen and how to get out of ropes! lol!

Steve said...

The first game was called Assassin at the school where I teach. It was outlawed, as you might expect, by the administration.

Two parts stand out. A teacher, who's daughter was playing, almost shot two intruders one night as they tried to enter and assassinate the daughter. A near brawl took place over who was the "winner" and who would get the prize money.

Catman said...

Craig, we did similar when we weren't in school.

Kellie, it is kind of odd what some of our bad experiences wind up teaching us, isn't it?

Steve, wow. You guys had a pool of money? We just did it for bragging rights.