My daughter’s school hosted dart wars a few days ago, using Nerf darts. It sounded like fun but became an indictment on mankind.
I can confidently say that it is good that I chose the Navy as a career, because I would have been a goner as a Soldier. It wasn’t that we hadn’t prepared. These are our pre-war uniforms, complete with eye black.
Each of us was equipped with the latest anti-zombi nerf pistol, with rotating barrels and twelve dart capacity. Quite frankly, I thought I looked like this guy:
In reality, at least to the children who we fought, I probably looked more like this:
There were quite a few parents there, but most of them sat in the bleachers. I was (by far) the biggest person in the arena. If we were arm wrestling, that would be an advantage. In dart wars, it is a sentence.
My head became a target, being the largest thing in the room to shoot at, and I began to realize that the dart wars had become a microcosm of the human experience. I saw heroism. Brave 9-year-olds sacrificed themselves by charging the opponents’ flag. Young leaders-in-training tried (vainly) to organize attacks and counterattacks. Cruelty showed its ugly self too. The enemy knew my head was easy to hit. They could have shown some mercy and allowed me to just shoot off a few darts before getting slaughtered, but did they? No sir. They did not.
Some opponents cheated, justifying their underhandedness as means to an end. I killed one young man three times as he raided our territory, the last time being when I shot the top of his head from about a foot away. Then he grabbed our flag and ran back to his headquarters. The judges declared them the winners.
I was going to complain, but the optics would not have been good: a combat-attired, fully grown man wearing eye black and carrying specialty weapons, whining about a children’s game where no one really cared about the outcome anyway. Plus my wife would have shamed me if I had tried.
Tired of being the first guy out in each round, I eventually established a defensive perimeter, picking off those foolish enough to attack our flag.
In the end, I came away better prepared for a zombi apocalypse, and wiser about the character of my fellow warriors, even if their average age was eight and a half. Now that the foam rubber dust has settled, it is time to compile a list of lessons learned so that we will be more lethal next time.
At the top of my list is to get a smaller head.
[Updated April 13]