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By Michelle
June 27, 2004 - 5:17 AM

Hello World!

I spent a thrilling afternoon on Friday watching an adorable group of little boys try to shoot each other - excuse me, to tag each other. That's the polite name laser tag places use for shooting. In practice, it means that everyone puts on a suit with targets made out of flashing lights and shoots beams of light, through artificial fog in a room constructed of ramps, alleys and hidden passages, at other people's suits and at mounted targets that periodically flash and take points away from everyone in the vicinity. This was my younger son's birthday party: a bunch of kids of varied backgrounds, ethnicities and nations of origin, all running around trying to shoot each other. It has been his fantasy all year to have a birthday party there. I feel like a terrible parent for capitulating.

It's not all bad. Adults who enjoy it (like two of the fathers who accompanied their children to my son's party and enthusiastically played - err, helped chaperone) say it's like being inside a video game. Everyone plays on either the green or red team, divided up randomly - we had one child have a meltdown when he and his father ended up on opposite teams - and everyone picks an alias. I was rather horrified to discover that, although profanities are not permitted in aliases, someone calling himself "Suicide Bomber" was playing in another group at the same time as our kids. These are not the values I want to be teaching my children.

Still, despite the general disorganization and noise and hyper kids and Dominos Pizza and too much chocolate, everyone seemed to have a good time. My son was crushed to end up 14th out of about 20 during the second game, largely because as the birthday boy everyone wanted to shoot, er, tag him, but he was pleased with his presents, which included a Bionicle with an axe-type weapon, a SpongeBob computer game where things get shot at, and some Pokemon creature that fires little darts. We have a "no toy guns" rule in this house but it seems that guns aren't the most exciting things now, anyway. Phasers are.

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