I have officially been at a party that was broken up by the police.
Also, I think I have a sunburn on my face but I can’t be bothered to find a mirror to check.
There was a great battle. Many lives (of water droplets) were lost. Men, women and children: none escaped unscathed.
Today was the 4th Annual Water Gun Fight of Boston, as decreed by the Banditos Misteriosos. This clash pitted the Back Bay Swamp Creatures against the Revere Horsemen in an epic struggle to prove, once and for all, how the city of Boston was founded and whose great-great-great-grandbeasts laid the bricks upon which these streets are built.
What team was I in? Aha, dear goodmen and goodwives, I was a part of the secret third army.
I was delayed while making my way to the rendezvous point; there is apparently a sport called hockey which is sort of a big deal to some people in the area who like to watch bears in ice skates. There was a big parade to celebrate the Cup of Stanley making its way to our fair city, which meant that there was a vastly large number of people in black and yellow stumbling through the streets and subway tunnels.
We were scheduled to gather at 1:45 this afternoon to discuss tactical operations. I arrived just in time to hear our strategy finalized, though too late to lay claim to one of the fabulous paper Puritan hats that had been handed around, for, yes!, we of the secret army were the PILGRIMS, tasked with ending the “faux-enactment” and restoring peace to the algae-eaters and hay-munchers.
It was surely quite a sight as our army, armed with neon blasters, large bottles of water, and black paper hats to match our puritanical black uniforms (mine was an old “DirtyDisco” t-shirt from Old Navy), wandered across the bridge over Storrow Drive to the Charles River Esplanade.
We took up positions in two ranks in the middle of the battlefield, facing the directions from which our enemies would come. The Horsemen reached the northern tier of our army before the Swamp Creatures were even in sight; we had been told to hold our fire until all the peaceful options had been exhausted. The silver tongues of our northern ranks exercised those peaceful options magnificently and shortly after their arrival, the brown Horsemen tramped with our brethren to meet our southern rank and announced that our people had joined forces. Woe to the Swamp Creatures, huzzah!
When the Swamp Creatures, in all their green muck (and reeds and leaves and trailing crepe paper and painted-on marsh grass tattoos) arrived and saw our united armies waiting for them, they tried desperately to raise their own morale by chanting “Swamp! Swamp! Swamp! Swamp!” Such an elementary tactic could never succeed against the likes of our mighty historical righteousness, however. We simply bared our teeth and yelled back, “HORSEmen! PILgrims! HORSEmen, PILgrims!!”
Someone shouted, “CHAAAAAARGE!”
And we did.
I can’t vouch for anyone else but I was promptly soaked. I am intensely glad I tossed my wallet, keys and cell phone into a Ziplock baggie to sit in my pack with my 1.5 liter bottle of water, also known as “the next clip.” I bought goggles to wear but it was so sunny that the clear plastic did nothing to help my eyes [I have vampire eyes, light makes me hiss and squint and get migraines and burn] so I stuck with my nice, tight, wrap-around sunglasses.
Tell you what, those viscous Swamp Creatures don’t play fair. They have no problems attacking someone who’s kneeling down to reload. The monsters! Then again, I shouldn’t throw any blame around. I shot at more than one person who was clearly fleeing with an empty weapon. Oops~
The sheer awesomeness of people never ceases to amaze me. There was a group of four bearing re-purposed fire extinguishers strapped to their backs on frames a lá Ghostbusters. There was a young man with a water cannon supplied by four tanks made of large PVC piping. There were multiple people in wigs and fake facial hair, as well as enough people with warpaint on their faces to have faced off against every football team from the colleges of Boston. There was a unicorn hoodie (on a Pilgrim). There were horse-head face masks. There were reeds stuck in pockets and hair and weapons and people draped in green camouflage mesh. There were lots of twenty-somethings but also a fair handful of middle-aged history buffs and several energetic less-than-ten students of truth and fact.
And the facts are these: though unfortunate friendly fire incidents did occur before the battle commenced, the war itself was a magnificent free-for-all of shrieking and spraying and laughter and glee; no tourists or bystanders were harmed in the firefight; those bearing cameras and cell phones wandered throughout with immunity; about half an hour into the battle, a lone police car drove up with its lights flashing.
It was ignored.
I had run out of ammo and stepped to the verges of the field, in the shelter of a nicely positioned tree, and was having a great time watching the Pilgrim girl with the large plastic shield (with the words “HIT ME” cut out at the top) try fend off the Swamp Monster dual-wielding large green guns when the cop decided to run his siren a few times. The fighting petered off as people looked to see what was going on. Imagine our surprise when the cop engaged his speaker!
“Well, that got your attention, didn’t it?” He sneered. “It would be ridiculous to break this up with more than one Trooper but I’ll do it if I have to!”
I won’t lie to you, Marge, we laughed at him. A few people went back to aiming at each other, most turned their guns into the air and turned themselves into possibly the largest human sprinkler ever. A couple of brave souls at the back shouted out “Shoot the cop!”
Unfortunately, though, the damage was done. The battle was clearly ended, albeit without history having been restored. I saw more than one spectator put down their phone with a muttered, “awwww.” Since I was out of ammunition anyway, I decided it would be a good time to drift off down the Esplanade toward a subway station (a decision which was not unique, as I was hardly the only one who had run out of water). My route, not serendipitously, took me through the mob to the far edge of the field. It was great fun to watch people discover friends they hadn’t known were participating, slosh left-over gallons of water over each others’ heads, use up the last of their loaded weaponry in point-blank duels, and vigorously shake themselves like dogs to send water flying in every direction.
When I got home, I threw myself into the shower with joy, as I had seen a few people reloading their weapons in the Charles River. People can say they’ve cleaned up the Charles as much as they want to but I lived on the banks of that river for four years and there is no way I would ever willingly touch that liquid. I need neither cancer nor three arms, so soap was necessary.
It’s too bad that policeman found it necessary to impose himself upon what was clearly a gathering of people having a great deal of harmless fun in a public space. By my estimation, there were roughly one hundred people participating in the event and we were all careful only to aim at those in green, sopping wet black, brown, or costume. Pedestrians and bemused onlookers were left in peace. For all that he was out of line in his actions (oddly enough, there are those of us who are well versed in our civil rights), though, that copper had the good taste to enter the fray well after the battle started. If he’d tried to stop us before the soaking began, he probably would have gotten drenched and I imagine that more than one person would have been arrested (myself not excluded from that possibility). I can’t fault the police for being stressed and anticipating trouble, what with the parade and the copious amounts of liquor some Bostonians tend to consume whenever there’s the slightest justification for “celebration,” but I really do think that a water gun fight is rather laughably low on the Threats To Public Safety scale. I hope his coworkers mock him without mercy when he files his report back at the station.
Your tax dollars at work, ladies and gentlemen.
[I would like to assert, here, that this one particular cop is hardly an accurate representation of the Boston police force. I have had the good fortune to live in and around this city for eight years and to work with several active and retired police chiefs, and I am a stalwart fan of every police force in the Greater Boston Area. Never once, in my time here, have I felt unsafe. I have been lost, confused, turned around and unsure what was going on around me, but never have I felt threatened or at risk. District police, campus police and state police all work together and share beats here, and their level of communication with the populace is really exemplary. Plus, getting a ride home from someone with Master Chief plates is lots of fun, not something to be missed!]
I just want to let it be known that I am deliriously glad this thing happened. I had previously considered the logistics of squirting water out my bedroom window at the starlings who continuously empty my suet cage (an entire block in a single day!!!!). All I needed was a little justification to get something higher powered than a spray bottle. [Would you believe it, though, not a SINGLE starling stopped by my window after I got home with my new armament yesterday? THEY HAVE SPIES. THEY KNOW!! …Or maybe they just weren’t interested in me because I had no more suet to refill the cage with.]
All things being equal, I am entirely satisfied with my day. Flash mob water gun fights are a totally acceptable means of keeping occupied. The one thing this day needs is ice cream and I am about to go meet up with some of my friends to get some.