feels like you swallowed a lit match and you're on fire," said another
a great feeling," Jaimie continued, "but it dies right out when the
chase is over. You can't make that feeling happen by yourself. You got to be
chased to feel it. And there's nothing worse than getting yourself ready to be
chased, real serious and all, and nobody will chase you."
It was an axiom
of the sport that there must be both chaser and chasee; the trouble was
locating an earnest chaser when it was time to start the game. An arbitrary
chaser, i.e., one of our friends, would not do. The chaser had to be aloof,
serious and angry before he could become a valid participant.
"I saw this
movie the other night," somebody said after a while, "and there was
this hero being chased through a field by a pack of wolves...." The
conversation would continue like this, ebbing in and out slowly like a sea
until the uncommon cerebration made us hunger for a little action.
meant some nefarious plot to startle an innocent citizen into retaliating
against us, chasing us with that passionate abandon we loved. Loud noises,
window peeking, mud ball slinging, a dab of vandalism—these were the sparks of
officers, school principals and parents with hot hands cooled our lust, and we
relied upon games for adventure. Kick-the-can was one. The person declared
"it" (usually after a race to the garage and back) sat under a tree in
the front yard and counted to 100 while everyone else hid. A can was set up in
the middle of the yard. When "it" had finished counting, he hunted down
the bidets as in hide-and-go-seek, the difference being that when he spotted
someone he had to run back and kick the can. It was a race back to the can; the
hider would be safe if he kicked it first.
led to some exciting confrontations at the vertex of the can, with two speeding
participants often arriving simultaneously. On rare occasions, "it"
would spot two or three hiders at once. They would come from different
directions, running like rabbits, and generally the ensuing collision would
terminate the game. There were variations on the standard Maxwell House coffee
can we used; some days we would have to settle for any object available. There
were times when we played kick-the-log, kick-the-brick, kick-the-bucket—and
once we even played kick-the-dog, a disastrously short affair that taught us a
thing or two about dozing German shepherds.
hide-and-go-seek was another of our chase-oriented games, but its popularity
diminished with the increasing sophistication and earnestness of the players.
Because of the tactics of the hiders, the person pronounced "it" was
like a man condemned to an endless search for the Golden Fleece. Frequently the
game would last an entire day without a single hider being found—the end coming
when "it" would give up and go home for dinner.
spatial limitations, hiders would often conceal themselves miles away in secret
forts and impenetrable thickets. Some would lie motionless in towering oaks
where only squirrels and acorns could go. Others locked themselves in tool
sheds and doghouses Occasionally one of the participants would bar himself into
the Pindels' bombshelter. Though this was considered unethical and frowned
upon, the absolute security of the position made it virtually irresistible to
the less imaginative players.
The passivity of
a game such as our wide-scale hide-and-go-seek eventually engendered in us the
need for a more active form of the chase. Out of this need
slaughter-the-man-with-the-ball was spawned. A remarkably simple yet refreshing
game, slaughter began one day in grammar school when an enterprising young boy
scooped up our boring red playground ball and said, "Nya-ya-ya! Bet you
can't catch me!"