Two-decade game of tag keeps group of friends togetheron February 1, 2013 @ 9:17 am (Updated: 9:21 am - 2/1/13 )
It started back at Gonzaga Prep, more than two decades ago when Patrick Schultheis and some buddies decided it would be fun to play tag. "It was kinda silly," Schultheis told KIRO Radio's Dori Monson. "We were juniors and seniors in high school and you don't expect guys of that age to be playing schoolyard games but we decided that during a specific 15 minute break every day, we would do just that."
If it seemed a little silly at that age, consider this: at age 47, he and 9 others of the gang are still at it. The chase can now lead anywhere in the world and instead of 15 minutes a morning, the game lasts all February but the basic "tag, you're it" rules have applied now for 23 years.
Patrick says the current adult-tag game actually had its roots in the last game of tag they played as teens. Patrick was alerted that the current "it," Joe Tombari, was planning on ambushing him at his parent's house on the last day of the school year. Patrick locked himself in his parents' car and when Joe showed up and couldn't get to him during the specified 15 minute period. "That was the last game and that meant Joe was "it" for life.
Later, after the group had drifted apart through college and grad school, the guys came together in Spokane one year, including Joe. "We started getting on Joey because he was "it" for life," says Patrick," and he got so dejected that we decided to have mercy on him and start it up again."
And so, once again as Sherlock said the game was afoot.
The group, members of which include corporate vice-presidents, atttorneys, and even a priest, have been ranging all over the U.S. and even Europe every February- hatching elaborate schemes- like one that concluded with an injury.
Patrick says Sean Raftis was the current "it" and conspired with Mike, another member of the group, to get Joe.
"So Sean flew down to San Jose and was picked up by Mike at the airport. He got in the trunk of Mike's car and they drove to Joe's house. Mike goes in and chats for a while then tells Joe, 'You have to see what I just bought. Maybe it was new golf clubs or whatever, I don't remember the ruse, but Mike lured Joe and Joe's wife out to the car and popped the trunk. When a hand came out and grabbed Joe, Joe's wife was so startled that she jumped back, fell over a curb and tore her ACL. Nasty but it happens."
Still Patrick says, Joe's wife "is still a big supporter of the game."
Spouses, co-workers, and neighbors, all are enlisted to defend against increasingly devious tag-attempts. When player, Brian Dennehy started his job as chief marketing officer for Nordstroms, one of his first questions was about non-employees getting access to his office. Patrick himself has surrounded himself with a defensive screen of people, including his office manager who "knows what my friends look like so she can sniff them out if they try to pull anything shifty."
After two decades of this, have the pressures of adult life led them to consider and end to this game? Patrick says they just can't. "The shame and humiliation of being "it" for 11 months at a time are such that nobody wants to [suffer that] so I assume we're going to keep playing."
But what about when the dark man in the black robe with the sickle in his bony hand joins the game? Patrick admits "we have not yet made any provisions for when people start to die. If someone was to die while being "it," what do you do about that?"
Being "it" for eternity that does sound brutal.
Personally, I don't think even death will end this game. If "it" goes first, I'm sure they'll just work it out so when the next player crosses over and stands before the pearly gates, someone who looks at first glance like St. Peter will say "Welcome to Heaven, and by the way - TAG, you're IT. Sucker."
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