by Julia Buckley
This is a macabre game, yes. But the winning student gets a whole lot of money, which, hopefully, he or she will use for college tuition.
But what I didn't realize about Assassins is how scary it feels. I'm reminded of the old childhood days of playing Hide and Seek, and feeling, while I hid in a dark closet, the tension of being stalked.
For the same reason, my son's eyes darted nervously around today while he helped me carry in groceries. He's still "alive" and has not spotted a possible stalker in the last few weeks. This does not make him lessen his vigilance--not after he witnessed the assassination of his best friend.
I usually pick the two of them up after school. On Friday I was sitting in my car waiting. My glasses were off (I don't need them for reading), so I was pretty blind to my surroundings. Then I heard running feet, and two bodies slammed into the side of my car. Alarmed, I reached for my glasses as the back doors were wrenched open.
Then I heard a girl's voice say, "Got you, Mike!" and Mike moaned in humiliation.
I turned to see a young woman with a tuft of blonde hair--a la Pink--saying, "Sorry about that. Could you give me the name of your target, please?"
Mike looked surly, but he named someone. She wrote it down in a notebook and said, "Thank you!" Then she disappeared and walked down the sidewalk.
"Well, that's it; I'm dead," Mike said.
"I'm so sorry," I told him. And I was. I felt somehow responsible, as though I should have parked closer or had the doors open for them. Anything to prevent Mike from losing his "at large" status. And while I think young men today are fairly accepting of equality of the sexes, I think he felt pretty humiliated to be assassinated by a cute (and fairly small) girl.
"I can't believe this," he said as we went home. "This is a real weekend-ruiner."
"It's a bummer," my son agreed.
And now he's getting more nervous. There are still weeks and weeks before graduation, but someone out there has his name. And just as he hasn't really pursued his own target, his person hasn't really pursued him.. Yet.
I'm not sure what I think of this game, and I don't know how long it's been a senior tradition.
But we've all learned that a faux assassination plot creates real tension.
(pictured: my younger son assassinating a pumpkin in 2009).