On Big Buck Hunter and the Perils of Urban Hurdling
There was a time, not so long ago, that I saw the proliferation of Big Buck Hunter machines in our nation’s ale houses as a surefire sign of the decline of our society.
This sentiment sprung forth primarily from the fact that Big Buck was widely replacing my beloved Golden Tee, which seemed to me the perfect bar game: See who can slam his hand harder into the plastic screen in order to tack a few extra yards onto his drive.
But now, as Golden Tee has passed partially into extinction and I’ve had some recent opportunities to blast away at deer, moose and big-horned sheep with a plastic orange shotgun, I realize that my distaste for buck hunting was largely shortsighted.
Big Buck Hunter, I have learned, is an outstanding video game, in part because a large majority of the population is just not very good at it. But since they’ve mostly only played against their friend who’s also terrible, they think that they’re quite skilled, so when they play against someone who’s actually pretty decent (you), it’s not remotely difficult to dismantle and humiliate them. And naturally you’ve bet a round of drinks on the match, so you end up drinking for free while filling your pick-up truck with a virtual pile of steaming deer carcasses.
Of course, after several such spirited rounds of Buck Hunter (and the three or four whynattes that you downed earlier on that night), you may become so overcome with a sense of glee that you take to the streets and begin to take part in the practice known as urban hurdling. Urban hurdling, if the name isn’t adequately self-explanatory, is the art of jumping over various street-based obstacles.
Such obstacles include (but are not limited to): garbage cans, garbage bags, fences, piles of boxes, mattresses and shopping carts being pushed by homeless men (if you successfully leap one of these, chances are decent that the homeless man pushing the cart and nearby onlookers will give you a hearty smattering of applause).
As you can probably guess, there is a caveat.
Don’t get cocky. Even if you have successfully cleared a homeless man’s shopping cart (something you never quite imagined would be possible until you did it), don’t suddenly assume you’re a track star, even if your friends have started calling you “Carl Lewis” (they say this not really thinking about the fact that Carl Lewis wasn’t a hurdler, instead just focusing on the fact that he’s the most prominent track and field athlete they can think of).
So when you see that sizable pile of garbage bags (about two bags high and 3 or 4 bags across) on the middle of 14th Street and decide that you’re going to jump over it, don’t assume that you can easily clear it with only 80% effort. And definitely don’t skimp on the height and trajectory of your takeoff, because otherwise you’re liable to catch your right foot on one of the bags, go sailing headlong and narrowly save your face from being mashed up by the concrete when you stick out your right hand at the last second.
And when that happens, your hand ends up looking something like this:
Not the best of times.
But like any true champion, lying there on the ground, wailing in pain and feeling sorry for yourself never crosses your mind. Thanks to the caffeine and booze coursing through your veins, you have no trouble whatsoever springing back to your feet, beholding your mangled extremity and realizing that it’s all part of the danger of late-night urban hurdling.
And though you later tell yourself that you’ll never be so stupid again and are hereby retiring from the sport (It’s just not worth the risk, you say), when an opportunity to leap over the siding surrounding an outdoor restaurant patio presents itself the following evening, there’s only one option as to how to react:
You ignore the fact that your hand is completely destroyed, put aside your lingering fear, wind up for a running start and clear the hurdle with room to spare.
The crowd – consisting of several of your friends and two restaurant employees standing on the otherwise vacant patio – goes wild.
High fives and chest bumps are exchanged. Euphoria is once again in the air.
And right then, you wonder how you’ll possibly be able to resist jumping over the next obstacle that dares stand in your way.