Playing Tag, Staying YoungSteven Folkins

A couple months ago, after a few drinks, some friends and I decided to play Hide and Seek. We had been playing cards and wanted to do something a little different when someone brought up the idea of playing the game. I haven’t played a real serious game of hide and seek in probably 20 years – I don’t really count playing it with my kids because I never hide to stay hidden. We picked who was going to be ‘It’, shut all the lights off in the house, and then went to hide. The game lasted for hours with people swapping being ‘It’ every so often when they were found. It’s been months since we did this and I can’t stop thinking that this is something that we should be doing so much more. Why can’t adults do stuff like this? And then I came across this article in The Wall Street Journal about a group of men that have been playing tag for 23 years and felt like okay (better than okay – awesome even) about playing Hide and Seek.

“[Brian] Dennehy and nine of his friends have spent the past 23 years locked in a game of ‘Tag’.
It started in high school when they spent their morning break darting around the campus of Gonzaga Preparatory School in Spokane, Wash. Then they moved on—to college, careers, families and new cities. But because of a reunion, a contract and someone’s unusual idea to stay in touch, tag keeps pulling them closer. Much closer.

The game they play is fundamentally the same as the schoolyard version: One player is “It” until he tags someone else. But men in their 40s can’t easily chase each other around the playground, at least not without making people nervous, so this tag has a twist. There are no geographic restrictions and the game is live for the entire month of February. The last guy tagged stays “It” for the year.”

The players can get tagged anywhere – at work or in bed. “‘You’re like a deer or elk in hunting season,’ says Joe Tombari, a high-school teacher in Spokane, who sometimes locks the door of his classroom during off-periods and checks under his car before he gets near it.”

The game almost ended before it even began. In 1982, Joe Tombari was ‘It’ on the last day of senior year of high school and therefore technically ‘It’ for life (4LYFE). “About eight years later, some of the group were gathered for a weekend when the topic turned to Mr. Tombari and the feeble finish to his tag career. Someone came up with an idea to revive the game for one month out of the year. Patrick Schultheis, then a first-year lawyer, drafted a “Tag Participation Agreement,” which outlined the spirit of the game and the rules (no “tag-backs,” or tagging the player who just tagged you). Everyone signed. The game was on.”

The men are currently playing the game according to their rules and I can’t help but think about Mike Konesky, who is currently ‘It’ (at least as of the printing of this WSJ article), and what he is doing. Where he’s hiding. What is he planning on doing?

Let’s all play tag soon, okay?

Image via WSJ

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