As is my trademark, I arrive half an hour early to the laser tag birthday party I hadn’t anticipated being able to attend, thanks to my recent layoff. Take that, Corporate America! Not only have my fellow revelers not arrived fashionably early (or on time), they are at least 30 minutes late—because not only are they comics, they’re comics who hang out and do shows at a cannabis dispensary. Of course they’re late.
Their three-car caravan arrives and out they pour. (For the sake of anonymity, all participants will be exclusively referred to by their laser tag pseudonyms.) Smokescreen is the birthday boy. He’s blessed with the charm of a wholesome, 1950s choirboy next door who sells pot to all the old folks after church. He arrives with his partner, Nightfall, and another couple, Pantera and T-bone. The second car contains Goblin, Medulla, and Spanky. I don’t know how I feel about Spanky’s attendance. Of all the comics I think might murder someone for fun, Spanky seems the most likely to mutilate the corpse. You already know my name, so I’ll refer to myself as myself, D, me, I, or they/them. The third and final car contains only Biff, who can’t stay long enough for laser tag. Therefore, no super-dank laser tag name.
We enter, pay for our first round, and are told we have to wait for children who are currently playing to finish their round. I often forget that laser tag is an all-ages activity, as I play almost exclusively with people at least old enough to get drunk or stoned in preparation for a good time. To bide our time, Biff challenges any unwitting mark to a game of air hockey. I go first because I think I’m hot shit.
Air lifts the puck. I whack the puck hard with my paddle thingy. Biff twitches, and the puck breaks the sound barrier as it rockets into my goal. This pattern is swiftly repeated six more times. T-bone challenges him next, and falls victim to a similar fate. Meanwhile, Smokescreen and Nightfall play a friendlier round followed by the futility of a claw machine.
“You’re up,” beckons the gatekeeper.
A gathering of comedic adults playing birthday laser tag should only result in hilarity, but there’s something unmistakably sad about our referee, who seems clinical at her warmest. I suppose one can only witness combat so many times before it takes its toll.
We split into teams. I choose Goblin, because he’s former military, Medulla, and T-bone. Nightfall and Pantera quickly siege the bird’s nest, unleashing a firestorm from the sky, and leaving my team to focus our energy on hunting down Spanky and Smokescreen. Smokescreen is a fairly easy target, but Spanky is small, quick, and possibly practicing to be a real-life mass shooter.
No surprise, Team Birthday Boy wins, and the party wins 10 points out of 10.
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