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When it was fun to be the 'It' boy

Fair Game

March 24, 2006|By TOM JOHNSON

It was all over the news this week: the Orange County teenager who was shot in the eye with a paintball gun and partially blinded.

I'd like to think that the kids who fired the paintball gun were simply innocent youths thinking that it would be fun to blast someone with paint, not realizing the potential dangers involved.

I'd like to think that. Unfortunately, they probably had just gotten up off the couch after playing one of those gangster-shoots-a-cop or let's-steal-a-car video games in their collection.

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It got me thinking about what we did as kids back in the day. And what inherent dangers lurked.

First of all, when we got up off the couch after playing a videogame, we were almost asleep. Remember, the only game available back then was Atari's "Pong."

It was so slow compared with nowadays, you could've probably gotten up and made yourself a sandwich between hits.

If you were good, it was back and forth, back and forth. Yawn. Back and forth.

Talk about fast moving.

And we thought that was fun!

How about this: Do you remember kick the can?

The most dangerous part of that game was opening one end of the can to empty the contents.

Place the can in the middle of the street, someone became "it" and counted while everyone else hid.

"Over the can on so and so," they'd yell when they spotted you hiding behind a bush or crouching behind a car.

The goal, I recall, was to run up and kick the can before "it" spotted you and got to the can first to get you out.

It was best played after dark.

The more kids the better.

Of course then, we didn't have to worry about lots of things that parents worry about today. Or maybe we did; we just didn't know about it.

Other times it was simply the game hide and seek. Usually a telephone pole would act as base. "It" would, again, cover his or her eyes and count while everyone else hid.

Thinking back, don't you kind of remember "it" always being the same person no matter what the game?

Everyone would run out and try to touch base before "it" got them out.

Sometimes "it" would fail to find everyone and yell out something that sounded like ollie, ollie oxen free. This somehow meant everyone come out and "it" was "it" again.

Poor "it."

During the spring and on summer evenings, I remember baseball taking over our lives. Everyone would gather in the park, we'd choose sides and then toss the bat for first ups.

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