I came. I sprayed. I screamed.
Actually, it wasn’t quite that bad. I didn’t actually scream, though there was a moment, call it thirty or forty seconds, where I damn sure wanted to.
The worst part of the entire experience was the hour and a half in class just before the spraying, where the instructor explained to us why it was going to hurt (the percentage of oleo rosin and capsicum or some shit) and why it was wrong to call it Mace.
Mace, he said, was a brand name.
“Like Kleenex,” he said.
“Well, not quite like Kleenex,” I offered, “seeing as how Kleenex doesn’t actually leave you in the middle of the floor, crying like a baby, screaming like a first grade school kid, and blowing snot rockets all over yourself.”
So not quite the same.
Anyway, Mace is a brand. The actual crap is O.C. spray.
And it sucks. Just so we’re clear on that part.
But the build up was the worst. Talking about it and then talking about it some more. And then, when we were done with that, talking about it some more still. And then more still.
I mean, come on already, juice us, let us run the obstacle course, and be done with it.
What’s that, you say? An obstacle course? Why, obviously there is. They couldn’t just juice us and let us drive home.
So we did an obstacle course. Get juiced, run about 100 feet down a sidewalk, into a door — that you had to find while your eyes were burning — crawl through a hole in a wall, fight with a ‘bad guy’ outside, run inside and handcuff another ‘bad guy,’ shoot a dead center laser shot, then run back to the start, where beautiful, life-affirming water awaited.
Did I mention it sucked?
So I watched a few other class members do their thing, my ‘nads tightening up with every new player in this bizarre game, and then I finally went.
No problem, actually.
I got sprayed — an orange gel across the bridge of my nose but closer to my mouth than my eyes — and I ran. And before I hit the door, I realized that crap tasted a little like Jack Daniel’s. Swear to God. Had just a bit of whiskey taste to it, with a touch of rum.
Or maybe I just desperately needed a drink, I dunno which.
Hit the door, through the hole in the wall, took down my bad guy —
–why doesn’t this hurt?–
— and moved on to my cuffing —
–I don’t get it why doesn’t this hurt?–
— Got the bad guy cuffed up and headed for the shooting —
–no, really, why doesn’t this hurt even a little bit?—
— Did decently on the shooting but tasted just a hint of burn on my lips –
— come on, shouldn’t it hurt by now? —
And raced back to the end of the course, surprisingly intact, unhurt, unbowed, head held high and a MANLY sort of pride in my chest, bursting from my chest, in fact. Then I headed to the hose to wash it off.
Yeah, you got it. Suddenly I felt like I wasn’t eating my beloved Tabasco, but had BECOME my beloved Tabasco.
As soon as the incredibly cold water hit me, I was done. Fork me, I’m cooked.
I washed my face, used Dawn dish soap, which, along with Johnson Baby Shampoo, absolutely helped clean me up, then walked away. Sat facing the breeze and opened my eyes.
That was an entirely new lesson in pain. And for those few seconds when I was able to keep them open, the pain was actually worse than my heart attack. Different kind of pain, but way painful nonetheless.
But after a few minutes, it was over and I was good. Most people had to take a half hour to get back together, I did it in about ten. Am I a super stud?
Uh…no. I got a less than manly dose of the stuff. And I ain’t no kina proud, I’ll take a little boy’s dose and call it good, no problem.
So it didn’t kill me, though for a few seconds I wished it had. I did pretty well, didn’t cry like the baby I am genetically predisposed to be, didn’t throw up or stop during the obstacle course.
But I still question the wisdom of making recruits get a blast of it (which they’ve only been doing since 2001, by the by, so the old guys have no idea what we’re talking about). I think what’s really going on is that the old guys have developed a bit of sadism and are probably videotaping the entire thing.
“Hehehehhaaaaaawwwwwwhhhaaawwww,” I can hear them laughing. “Watch this one! He hurt so bad, his eyes actually popped outta the backa his head.”
Yeah, haw haw friggin’ haw. That’s funny. Maybe funnier still when I blow your fucking toe off and soak the wound in O.C. spray.
Excuse me, soak the wound in MACE.