Playing at war

Some time around 1988? ’89? Anyway, at the tail end of the ’80s during Ronald Reagan’s third term, I and the other kids on my street in the San Antonio suburbs went to war. We formed armies based on existing affiliations and began an agreed upon build up.

My Mexican friends and I two doors down started building a fort because they always had lumber and I had a hammer and saw. This mighty construction effort consisted of stacking the lumber, halfway sawing through some pieces before getting tired, and hammering a few nails in because, hey, we had a hammer.

The girls, being wise, built bows and arrows out of sticks and shiny metallic elastic that never quite worked as advertised. As they practiced, they more threw the arrows throw a hoop more than knocked and let fly.

The white boys, however, already had all they needed and combined their mighty stockpiles of Rambo-themed camouflage and toy guns. I don’t remember if the war was their idea, but they had certainly prepared for it their entire young lives, parading around with their weapons since time immemorial.

After so many days or weeks of buildup, the white boys launched their attack on our fort. I wound up on top of our “ramparts” as my next door neighbor swung his heavy wooden and metal rifle at my legs.

It’s important to note that, unlike today’s brightly-colored plastic Nerf guns, toy guns back then were heavy, made of wood and metal, with only a plastic orange cap at the end to distinguish them from the real thing.

So, with no weapon of my own, I kicked him in the face.

All guns dropped. All whoops and ululations ceased as kids evaluated just how much trouble they were in based on proximity to the crying kid in a headband. And then they all scattered, leaving their bawling MIA to slowly cry his way home.

I don’t remember how severely my parents punished me, but I know I took a lot of heat for it. So it goes, though.

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