Action Paintball (also spelled O-U-C-H)!

August 31, 2010

Day started out nice enough...

Paintball this weekend made for quite a Saturday. I don't know what I expected, but I'm not sure I would have signed up had I known how incredibly painful it is when one of those little balls hits you! All in all, it was pretty fun, but I know I would've had a much better time had I been better covered (padding, for example) and more prepared for the rain and muck. It was definitely a plus to be out with a new group that was entirely German.

It was fairly clear when we arrived that this was a boys club - the four girls in our group were the only ones to be seen. Also intimidating was the look of the players who looked to be regulars: camo garb, army boots, cigarettes hanging out of their mouths, not to mention being absolutely filthy. The fact that every person in our group (my hubby aside) was a paintball virgin, relieved at least some of my fears.

Our first of the paintball fields - Astroturf & inflatable barricades

As we began to suit up (gloves, chest shields, neck guards, masks...), I worried that my flimsy athletic pants and sweatshirt (and lack of a full-head helmet!) wouldn't cut it as defense against the paint-filled ammunition - and I was right. During our first game, I was doing my best to stay covered behind the giant, inflatable barricades, scared out of my mind at getting hit. The paintballs rained down on my cover, some of them making it past and grazing me so hard, I was surprised that I didn't see paint when I looked down.

Unfortunately, my first game ended when I leaned out from my cover and was hit right on the lower arm that was holding my gun. I nearly lost my breath, it hurt so bad. As I raised my hands and headed back to our team's 'base,' my arm started to tingle and I had to switch the gun to my other hand before I dropped it. If only I had known that huge raised welt on my arm was just the beginning (no, that was not the worst)....

My nastiest battle wound (ouch!)

I went on to take pretty painful hits right in my mask and on the side of my leg (see above), but started to get hang of it enough to even get a couple of people out - including my experienced husband. The games on the first field ended with a break to refill our gun's tanks (to ensure proper pressure with which to shoot out those little balls of pain) and head over to one of the more 'authentic' fields, with shorter plywood and tire covers in an actual field of dirt and grass. Shortly after we began this match, the sky opened and began dumping rain so cold and so hard, I was certain it was hailing. This also meant I could barely see out of my mask, which when coupled with the increasingly mucky mud my shoes were sinking into, really made it feel as if we were on a true battlefield.

Even paintball mascot Alli couldn't avoid some 
collateral damage (note the pink fur)

After huddling under an awning, waiting for the pounding rain to stop, I was thoroughly chilled to the bone and ready to call it a day. Dry clothes helped a bit, but I couldn't shake the chill for the rest of the evening, even as I warmed myself next to the BBQ. Once everyone was finished, we ended up cooking some meat on one of the tiny grills made available by the paintball place. 

Grilling for 11 people was a tight fit

This being our first outing with an entirely German group, only a few of whom we'd met a time or two through other friends, it was an interesting dynamic to experience. Our conversational German is poor, at best - on the plus side, we've mastered restaurant menus, telling time and how to say we don't speak good German - so either two people make the effort to understand or nine people are forced to communicate in a secondary language for our benefit. Seeing as we were the odd ones out, German won this time.

I tried my best not to feel left out, but it was hard not to. When you don't understand all of the conversations going on around you, it's a bit like being a little kid whose parents are spelling the big words, and often makes one feel equally small. This feeling of inequity is something I can only blame myself for - I haven't studied long enough or gotten out and tried hard enough to practice this difficult language. My lack of confidence aside, I know that my vocabulary (and limited knowledge of verb tenses) holds me back. At eight months in, it's time to step it up.

And so we begin our first full week with our new Deutsch instructor and I hope this will get us closer to where we need to be. Our first experience with him proved no one's going to slide by on 'close enough'; he insists that everything is pronounced correctly, with the right article clearly articulated, before we can move on. To help with the vocabulary issue, I've been thinking I need to take it upon myself to make some flashcards to fast-track our conversation abilities. Learning family members, professions and numbers only helps our day-to-day life so much. What about making beauty appointments? How do I communicate my concerns to a doctor? These are all things that will come with time - hopefully sooner than later.

*Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische