Water Gun Readiness

Water gun fighting was one of our many pursuits. If only you could see the look on those two girls' faces, you would understand the significance of being in water gun readiness. I mean, how often has it happened that you are standing on the sidewalk, waiting to cross the street, and a convertible pulls up to the stop sign. Two girls are in the convertible, and the one in the passenger's seat, which is next to you on the sidewalk, pulls out a water gun and starts firing at you and your friend? Now imagine what would happen if you and your friend each pulled out your own water guns and started firing back at her and her friend?

Yes, you begin to get the picture. But let me back up. This saga unfolds in the spring of 1984, which was toward the end of my freshman year in college.

When college was invented, they concluded that three years was adequate for the job, and thus things kicked off with the sophomore stage. But soon it was realized by the powers that be that the sophomore year was being wasted on silly pursuits that young men and women are likely to engage in once away from the confines of the home in which they grew up. Having already established classes such as English 201 and The Effects of Mass Media 201, and not wanting to renumber them, the powers invented a fourth year which they called the freshman year. They then proceeded to make up a large number of useless classes for freshmen to take such as Communications 101 and The Effects of Mass Media 101. It allowed for a more gentle transition into the rigors of college study habits.

So, being freshmen, one of the ways that we spent our ample spare time, among other things, was constructing for ourselves shoulder holsters for our water guns. Freshmen are, let me rephrase that. College students are typically short on disposable income, so we made our shoulder holsters out of masking tape. It was an ingenious idea by one of my suite mates, Tim, and it worked quite well.

We made water gun fighting one of our many pursuits, partly on account of the elder students who hung out at the Baptist Student Union and routinely persecuted the underclassmen with advanced water weapons. We figured that it would not hurt to show up at the BSU - or anywhere on campus - with a loaded squirt pistol on our persons at all times.

Alas, we don't jump to the climax of the story so soon, for we were not always prepared. One day Tim and I were walking on campus, nearing Adams Tower where we lived. We stood at the crosswalk, waiting for traffic to clear, when this convertible pulls up to the stop sign. Two girls are in the convertible, and the one in the passenge's seat, which was next to us on the sidewalk, pulls out a water gun and starts firing at us at point blank range. Tim and I both simultaneously reach for our weapons under our left arms. Of course, on this day we had not worn them. We're standing there looking at each other, getting hosed down by this chick in the convertible, and we're saying to each other, "How could this happen this way?"

Great warriors do not stand around getting shot at point blank range. It isn't healthy, for one thing. We immediately dove for cover and made a bee line for the dorm where our water guns and shoulder harnesses awaited us.

Several minutes later, we were quietly patrolling the neighborhood, our flannel shirts over our t-shirts, conveniently unbuttoned, and concealing deadly fire arms. We imagined that girls in convertibles with water guns don't stop at one or two turns around the block but make an afternoon of it, and we were not wrong.

Within a few minutes our girls in the convertible approached the intersection at which we lingered. Our left hands subtly brushed back the bottoms of our respective flannel shirts, making the pathway to the water gun a trifle less impaired. We had seen Clint Eastwood do this a thousand times. The convertible pulled up, and the passenger once more produced her water gun, thinking she would surprise these two unsuspecting freshmen boys. (Girls in convertibles didn't tend to recognize freshmen boys like us.) In a flash Tim and I drew our weapons and unloaded them on those chicks.

One must realize that a convertible at a stop sign cannot necessarily run for cover at a time like this. One has the intersecting traffic to consider. One also has large, four-wheel-drive pickups which have conveniently pulled up behind your convertible to contend with. No, these girls were stuck, and they were getting wet in a hurry. I don't think the passenger girl with the water gun even continued to fire her weapon, such was the shock that had descended upon her and her friend.

It was a fine moment in the history of water gun warfare. It even stands up to the epic battle we had at the end of that school year in the back yard of the Baptist Student Union. That was the one where the upperclassmen were entrenched behind a stockade fence with a water hose hooked to the BSU's hydrant. Our masking tape shoulder holsters were no match for the stockade fence and the water hose. But we didn't care, for water gun fighting was one of our many pursuits.