This is one of the strangest and possibly neatest things I think I’ve ever read.
Ten friends started a game of tag when they were in high school, which isn’t all that unusual. The unusual thing is that 23 years later, even though they all have families and jobs and don’t live anywhere near each other anymore, they’re still playing.
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.
That means players get tagged at work and in bed. They form alliances and fly around the country. Wives are enlisted as spies and assistants are ordered to bar players from the office.
And all of the rules are spelled out in a contract drawn up by one of the participants, who happens to be a lawyer now.
Through the years there have been ambushes, injuries, borderline break and enters and from the sounds of it, quite a bit of fun…even if they’ll all go to great lenghts to avoid being it for the year.
The participants say tag has helped preserve friendships that otherwise may have fizzled. Usually, though, the prospect of 11 months of ridicule overrides brotherhood.
Mr. Schultheis once refused to help a colleague change his tire, fearing the guy had been recruited to help get him tagged. He sometimes goes to Hawaii in February, partly to lessen the chances of getting tagged.
Every February, Mr. Schultheis’s office manager provides security detail as well as administrative functions.
Mr. Tombari once tried to talk his way past her. “She knew it was tag time,” he says. “I wasn’t allowed in. Nobody got in to see him.”
Mr. Konesky, a tech-company manager, is now “It” again and has had 11 months to stew. With February approaching, he has been batting around a few plans of attack. He says he likes to go after people who haven’t been “It” for a while. That includes Father Raftis, who has been harder to reach since he moved to Montana but who, as several players pointed out, is a sitting duck on Sundays.
“Once I step foot outside the rectory, all bets are off,” the priest says. “I have to be a little more careful.”
Seriously, what a creative way to stay in touch with old friends. We all have those people we figure we’ll be close with for life, but rarely do any of us ever actually pull it off. Good on these guys.