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Capture the Flag by Tina Antolini
 

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  • It’s almost dusk when we assemble in Lafayette Square, in the heart of the city’s central business district. There are a dozen or so of us, many strangers to one another. We are here for one purpose: to run around in the dark with the mad intention of outwitting one another in pursuit of a small scrap of fabric.

    We are here for Capture the Flag.
  • A central statue and some lampposts define the boundaries of play. Brick circles surrounding gardens become the jails. The flags—one a Mexican wrestling mask, the other a banner from some unidentified Sicilian organization— they are stuffed into opposing flowerpots. We receive face paint marking our team allegiances, red or yellow. We talk battle strategy, come up with some nonsensical cheer. And then it begins: two hours of infiltrating enemy territory, of captures and jailbreaks, of goading one another and sporadic shrieking. And running. Lots of running.

    Passersby cannot fathom what we’re doing. The darker it grows, the more likely we are to zealously tag one of them, thinking they’re part of the game. I keep hoping they’ll just join in, swept up by our exuberance.
  • I’m 30 years old. And, as I’ve made my way into my third decade, the time I spend happily dashing around in the night, shouting at people, has regrettably diminished. We spend so much time in bars, in conversation, at work, in the serious exercise of our lives… when really, there is nothing like chasing your friends down, diving through bushes to tag them, sweaty and out of breath, red stripes painted on your cheeks. If this is juvenile, may we all be so. Into our fourth decade, our fifth, sixth—as long as our bodies will allow it. We need regular doses of this.

    More lazer tag. More roller skates. More hide and seek.

    More Capture the freaking Flag.
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