Mother nature was having that time of the month again and without reason the rain was coming down hard. Though it was the beginning of summer and the heart of typhoon season, no storm was in the forecast for today, nevertheless Camp Lester looked miserable outside. I wasn't in a great mood either since I wanted to be outside, and to top it off, I was stuck in Jeff and Ricardo's house.
As I looked out the window, I couldn't help but to say what was on my mind, "Too wet to go out, too cold to play ball, so we sat in the house and did nothing at all. So all we can do is..."
"Why are you reciting that, it's not story time." snapped Ricardo.
"It's not nap time either, but a nap sure does sound good if we decide to do nothing. It's too wet to play football out there, and that's what we were going to do. I even have my cleats. Jeff, do you guys have any milk and cookies?"
"I'm sure we do, why?" asked Jeff, he was on the other side of the room with Chad, Armand, and Tony.
"Because staying inside with friends somehow feels like daycare, and if we are in daycare then I might as well eat milk and cookies."
"Stop whining. You're being a kid again Mike" injected Ricardo.
"Me? I'm not acting like a kid." I smiled and responded smartly. "I am a kid."
"I'm just a sophomore you know...well I guess not officially until school starts in a few months."
Ricardo seemed annoyed, but not as much as I was hoping for; something was on his mind, I wondered what it was.
"What do you think is the best rock band? Van Halen is OK." said Chad.
"U2 is the best." shouted Ricardo.
"I like Scorpions and Yes," I said. "But Def Leppard is the best!"
"I think REO Speedwagon is really good," added Chad.
"KISS is the best band in the world!" shouted Jeff.
"What makes you think that?" asked Armand.
"That's easy because..." replied Jeff as he walked over to the cassette player and turned it on; the air-drum solo followed suit.
"I wanna Rock and Roll all night...and party every day!" shouted the radio and Jeff.
I noticed that my brother didn't chime in, but then again, he didn't like heavy metal anyways. I was sure he would rather be talking about anything else.
The conversation was going nowhere so Armand decided to change the subject to something more useful. "Who's the hottest babe?"
"That's easy, Lita Ford!" answered Jeff as he pointed to the Lita Ford poster on his wall.
"Sorry to interrupt such an important topic but... What are we going to do?" Tony asked.
"Got me?" said Jeff.
"I've got a few Robotech tapes at my house, we can all go there and watch a few." said Chad.
Tony and Armand nodded. I could tell that they thought Robotech was a better solution than spending the rest of the day talking about KISS.
"I have it! Ranger Ric to the rescue." shouted Ricardo. "Let's play war in the rain, Jeff and I just bought some new air-soft guns. You guys can use the old ones."
"What? You mean we run around playing cops and robbers in the rain? Going Bang Bang, Bang Bang?" retorted Chad sarcastically as he holstered a pair of recently spent five-fingered shooters.
"Now who sounds like a kid?" I responded.
"These are kiddie toys, these guns shoot plastic bullets and if they hit your skin they can sting."
"Sounds cool, Special Forces is more my style." responded Armand. "It’s Rambo time baby."
Now that sounded interesting. I've shot fireworks and BB guns at friends before, but running around with guns that could shoot plastic bullets that are a painful but not dangerous...hmmm...that didn't sound too bad.
"Oh, that's a different story." I said "O-mo-shi-ro-i ne, o-shi-e-tte ku-da-sa-i".
Tony leaned over and told a confused Armand, "Mike said, sounds fun, tell me more." Everyone else except Armand had a Japanese mom; the rest understood what I had said.
Ricardo began to sell the game to everyone. In a few minutes, we all got our guns and were ready to get wet. It felt like a bad idea to leave a dry place, run amuck in the heavy rain, and to play war, but since we had nothing better to do, we went ahead with it. So like a pack of lemmings, we followed Ricardo into the chasm.
We must have been playing for over three hours. Luckily the heavy down pour had abated during most of our matches. We were all wet, but not completely soaked. We weren't cold either since Okinawan summer storms came down as warm rain. Foot trails surrounded us; sneaker tracks in the mud, sneaker tracks in the grass, and sneaker tracks on the road with orange plastic pellets scatted everywhere. Finally, the heavy rain started to come down.
"Let's get out of here. It's starting to come down hard." I said.
"Last game." shouted Ricardo "And we are going to win this one, right squad?"
"Yes, sir Ranger Ric!" shouted Chad and Jeff at the same time, then they gave him a salute.
Tony shrugged, Armand smirked, and I, well, I didn't know what to think. We never said it officially, but it was team Lester versus team Kadena today.
I looked skywards towards the rain; I felt the droplets on my face, I knew I was done. But as I veered downward to the smiles on team Lester’s faces I decided that one more game couldn't hurt.
"Come on Mikey, one more game. We’re already wet." Armand was ready to go. He didn’t look tired or bored, maybe this was his style of game. Tony on the other hand, seemed apathetic. I got the feeling he would go along with any decision.
I looked at my teammates and said "What the hell, let's do it."
Showing a smile Armand said, "Go Panthers".
"Go panthers!" we said.
"Let's get this over with ASAP, so I can get dry and find some food, I'm hungry" I said.
"You guys be the attackers, we'll defend this time." yelled Ricardo.
"Fine with us," I yelled back.
We walked to the closest building and leaned against the wall. Ahh. Shelter from the rain felt nice.
"We are coming in 10 count." I yelled.
"10, 9, 8... 7, 6, 5..." Being dry feels great I thought.
"4, 3, 2" Hmm, milk and cookies, I hope they have Oreos. Oreos and milks....mmm... my mouth start to water as my mind started to drift.
"...1" then I smiled and looked at Armand and Tony.
"Stop, don't go anywhere."
Armand and Tony looked at me wryly.
"I have an idea. Let's stay here for a few minutes before we hunt them." I said
"Why?" asked Tony. "I thought you wanted to get this over with."
"I do, but I'd like to stay dry. Since its starting to come down real hard right now let's just wait a bit. They'll get really soaked if we wait." I let out a little chuckle.
Armand and Tony understood my plan.
"Mikey, nice plan, you are wise in the ways of the force." Armand was grinning.
So we stood there for 2, 3, 4, 5 minutes before we started our search. All of us were carrying large smiles.
"OK, let's split up and see if we can find them." said Armand.
Splitting up is normally a bad idea, but since we are in a hurry this strategy was the best. Especially since it was the last game and I was getting real hungry. I didn't care if we win or lose, I just wanted to eat.
"Fine, I'll go this way." I replied as I left.
10 minutes later we regrouped.
"Well I got Chad." said Armand "I found him hiding under the building over there, but I can't find Jeff or Ricardo, any luck for you two?"
"Nope" we said in unison.
“Mike and I had them pinned early, they were surrounded, they knew they were dead, but somehow they got away.” By the look on Tony’s face I knew he was disappointed. His pincer strategy was perfect, we had them trapped; this game should have been over 5 minutes ago.
"We checked everywhere, we couldn't find them," I added.
The rain was pouring now. We looked around the compound, but we couldn't find them anywhere. I had no idea where those two could have gone.
"OK, let's get Chad and call it a game." I said.
"Sounds good." said Tony. Armand agreed and left to fetch Chad from the dead zone.
A few minutes later Chad was with us and he was laughing deviously.
"Can't find them eh?" said Chad sarcastically. "So it’s a draw. Tell them and they'll come out."
"Well that doesn't seem fair." spoke Armand.
"We are winning." I added.
"Sure, but it’s not over. So how long do you want to search for them in the rain? It's coming down pretty hard." replied Chad.
"Damn he's right," I thought. Though I didn't want to lose, ending the game was the real priority.
"OK, it's a DRAW! We can't find you, you didn't kill us either. Come out it's over." I yelled.
"Come on out, its a draw!" yelled Chad.
Strangely enough, the only sound I could hear besides our voices was the falling rain. I thought that everyone would want to quit by now. What the hell were they doing? Then all four of us were yelling out that it's over and that it was time to quit. But still Jeff and Ricardo couldn't be found.
"Maybe they pulled a fast one and they are already sitting at home, nice and dry." said Armand.
Damn; they'll be eating my milk and cookies. "Those bastards, let's get out of here."
We started to leave and then Chad spoke up "I don't think they would quit".
I frowned and thought about it. He was right. They were too serious about this kind of stuff so I didn’t think they would quit either; their father was in the Special Forces.
"How about if you guys try a new plan?" said Chad with a wink and a big smile.
Obviously our current strategy was failing; it was time for a new tactic. I quickly came up with a good strategy.
"Jeff, Ricardo you guys win! Kadena gives up, we surrender!" I yelled.
No sooner than I the instant the words had left my breath, did rings of motion start to ripple across a large pond a few yards away. Emerging out of the center of the pond was a pair of drenched kids with guns raised.
"Ah ha, I told you Ranger Ric would find a way for us to win." shouted Ricardo.
Armand, Chad, and Tony started to laugh uncontrollably. I was too shocked to laugh.
"Nice Rambo style!" shouted Armand enthusiastically.
"You guys are crazy!" I said "How long have you been in that pond?"
"Once Chad got killed and you guys had us surrounded, it was looking impossible for us, but we didn't give up." replied Ricardo with Jeff nodding.
"You sat in that pond for over half an hour, you guys ARE crazy! That pond has got to be at least two feet deep and a hundred feet wide."
"I told you Jeff, we can win even with the odds stacked against us. It's only impossible if you don't try!" rejoiced Ranger Ric.
Jeff was smiling and we all knew that team Lester was the victor in more ways than one.
"OK it's over, let's get out of here!" yelled Tony.
We all smiled and started to leave, but Ricardo stopped and took a deep breath.
"I don't care what you know…" yelled Ricardo as he started sing.
"I don't care what you know…" joined Jeff as he began to sing and march in step with Ricardo.
It was an all too familiar army basic training song, we’ll at least the rhythm; I didn’t know the words, but I heard it many times in movies and in TV shows. However, I never thought Jeff and Ricardo would be singing it out loud in public.
Without thinking about it, we began to march as well. And soon, we join the song. We didn't know all of the words, said we said the easy part, "Yes sir! one, two, three, four...three, four." But by the end of the march, we were all yelling and singing the entire song.
We marched and sang that silly song all the way back to the Jeff and Ricardo's home. I felt really stupid singing that song while marching in the rain, but somehow I couldn't stop. I guess, when your having a good time with your friends, sometimes even the dumbest ideas are fun to do.
Though we played war many more times, it was never better than the game we played on that day. Maybe it was the rain, maybe it was the silliness, or maybe it was the signing that made it memorable. But when I sit back and think about what really affected me that day, the moment becomes clear. It was Ranger Ric's determination about not giving up that made it truly unforgettable for me. So remember, whenever it looks like the odds are against you, "It' only impossible if you don't try."