When I was seven years old and had to endure a long car ride, I would pass the time by playing “the Shooting Game”. The name says it all, really. I would stare through the car windows, aim with extended index finger, and pretend to shoot all the other cars on the road. Of course each shot was accompanied by a shooting sound-effect, and maybe a few reaction sounds depending on the effect of the shot.
When I was on the road, no one was safe. Drivers and passengers were punched full of lead, engines exploded, tires popped, vehicles careened into ditches and each other, leaving behind tangled, flaming wreckage and the occasional errant hub cap.
Different road signs indicated different power-ups: a no-entry sign gave me a flame-thrower, a one-way sign granted a laser beam, and passing a stop sign meant my next shot was a bazooka. For a seven-year-old it was pure fun – taking boring everyday roads, cars and people and peppering them with action, chaos and death.
One day after church I was out on the front lawn area. I think Sunday school must have finished up before the adult’s portion or something, because I was alone. And I was playing the Shooting Game. Every passing car was an enemy who needed to be taken out – either by sniping the driver or by exploding his vehicle. This time, to add realism, I was throwing rocks instead of pretending to shoot with a silly old index finger.
The cars, or enemies, rolling by on the highway were much too far for me to reach, but eventually somebody pulled into the church parting lot. They were driving a nice white sports car too. Seeing my chance for glory (maybe even the high-score board), I launched my bullet as hard as I could, and it connected – a solid thud, sounding a clean hit on the side of the passenger door.
But the car didn’t explode, nor did the driver perish, instead he pulled over. Then he stepped out of his car and stalked towards me with long strides. He was cursing, and threatening to spank me. Actually not so much threatening, he was going to spank me. Luckily my dad had been watching the incident, and intervened. He was able to calm my enemy down, agreeing to pay for the damage done to his car.
I didn’t stop playing the Shooting Game. In fact, I still catch myself gunning down the occasional minivan, or laser-frying a school of cyclists, but I never used live ammo again. In fact, I stopped aiming with my hand or making sound effects altogether. From that point onward, the game was only in my mind.
What did you imagine in long car rides? Did your imagination ever get you in trouble?