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You're it - for another year.
March 4, 2013 7:57 AM   Subscribe

The men who have played one game of tag for over 20 years (previously) got more intense after recent nationwide coverage. Then one player's father died unexpectedly...

This article recounts last month's annual game round, including this: "During the [funeral] service, as Mr. Caferro walked toward the altar to take communion, he paused at the front row and grabbed his friend's shoulder. Mr. Schultheis looked up to acknowledge what he thought was a sympathetic gesture. Mr. Caferro mouthed, 'You're It,' and went on his way."
posted by mark7570 (32 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh, my.

But on further reflection, I wonder: is Caferro just supper hard-core about this, or is it more deep -- a gesture to Schultheis that there is comfort in continuity, and that his old friend will still be there for him even as the elder Schultheis passes on?
posted by wenestvedt at 7:59 AM on March 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


I wonder: is Caferro just supper hard-core about this, or is it more deep -- a gesture to Schultheis that there is comfort in continuity, and that his old friend will still be there for him even as the elder Schultheis passes on?

The latter. That tag was borne out of love; I know had it been my dad's funeral and my twenty-year-game-of-tag, being tagged at that point would have had me in stitches.
posted by mightygodking at 8:01 AM on March 4, 2013 [18 favorites]


 Mr. Schultheis promptly announced that the funeral of Judge John Schultheis would be in play. "My dad thought this whole thing was hilarious," he says, noting Tag was a topic of their last conversation.
posted by ocherdraco at 8:04 AM on March 4, 2013 [13 favorites]


Mr. Konesky's wife had told Mr. Tombari where they'd be [on the evening of February 28th, the last day of the game for this year].

Wow. Mr. Konesky's Valentine's Day present must have been crap.
posted by Etrigan at 8:05 AM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think if I were the guy whose dad died, I'd be disappointed if I didn't get tagged during the ceremony. Kinda of a "If shit goes down, we're still here just like we always have been" gesture.

Then again, some friends and I used to play "delayed reaction" when we were 13-15. You'd get slugged on the arm, and endure it stoically, then flinch dramatically at the right time, muttering "Delayed reaction!" I was working on one of the guys' bathrooms last week, and he asked me: "You've still got two delayed reactions you owe me, don't you?" From 24 years earlier.

On another note, I was always a stand-offish big brother to my three sisters. Never threatened the bums they brought home. It's not that I didn't care; I just respected them enough to make their own decisions. One sister got pregnant at 17 (gave her salutatorian speech at her Very Catholic High School 8.5 months pregnant). When I heard the news, I didn't make a big deal of it like everyone else in the family. She later told me that she appreciated that I was the one person who didn't treat her differently. That's what this reminds me of.
posted by notsnot at 8:09 AM on March 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


Misread this at first and thought one of the players had died, only to be tagged in the coffin.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:10 AM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Misread this at first and thought one of the players had died, only to be tagged in the coffin.

One hopes this game is passed on for generations to come.
posted by notyou at 8:12 AM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


On Wednesday, Rick Bruya found out which flight Mr. Schultheis was taking home from Arizona and headed to the Seattle airport, where he found a town-car driver holding a sign with his friend's name on it. But Mr. Schultheis, anticipating an ambush, had hired the car as a decoy. So while Mr. Bruya waited, Mr. Schultheis escaped through another concourse, hopped into his car and drove home. "It cost me a hundred bucks," Mr. Schultheis said. "But it was worth it."
Brilliant. Just brilliant.
posted by Brockles at 8:14 AM on March 4, 2013 [26 favorites]


Ah, the old "old Russian novelist" ploy.
posted by infinitewindow at 8:14 AM on March 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is pretty awesome. I was involved in a game of tag that lasted all through high school, oddly enough at another Catholic prep school. The game ended on the last day of school and I was it for life. We all went to different colleges but I stayed close to home. I would occasionally arrive back at my dorm room with a hand written note taunting me that they'd been around and I'd missed my chance but I never did see Mike and Bill again.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:15 AM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


These poor guys are going to be getting so much crap from "impartial" bystanders who think that funerals should be uniformly solemn; so I'm glad to see the comments in here from people who get that sometimes, this is okay. My father was similarly irreverent at his father's funeral, but that's the way Dad rolls (he punctures serious and sentimental and tense moments with jokes ALL the time), and it would have been hard on him if anyone tried to shame him for that.

Go, you Tag-Players.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:16 AM on March 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


One hopes this game is passed on for generations to come.

If you die while It, your eldest child inherits the title.
posted by asnider at 8:24 AM on March 4, 2013 [15 favorites]


There's a Game Of Thrones joke in there somewhere.
posted by mark7570 at 8:25 AM on March 4, 2013


Or if you don't have children, you can appoint a cousin It.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 8:27 AM on March 4, 2013 [31 favorites]


"There is no honor in this game," Mr. Caferro said of his mom's betrayal.

So good.
posted by mhoye at 8:33 AM on March 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


[annoyed trombone]
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:33 AM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you die while It, your eldest child inherits the title.


The entire story sounds like something Arthur Conan Doyle would create as a backdrop for one of his Sherlock Holmes stories. I can just imagine Holmes and Watson sitting in their apartment, listening intently as a fair lady begins telling the story of how her family for decades has been involved in the most peculiar game of tag ...
posted by Foci for Analysis at 8:36 AM on March 4, 2013 [19 favorites]


mightygodkink, I agree with you. It was tenderness, not opportunism, in the shoulder-grab. Well, maybe a little opportunism -- but you're right about the through-line of the game buoying up all the players.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:50 AM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you die while It, your eldest child inherits the title.

I see a trilogy of epic fantasy films in the making —
Upon his 15th birthday, the eldest child of the noble clan XYZ is summoned into the dowager's chambers. Tearfully, she presents him with an antique wooden coffer resting on a red velvet cushion. The boy opens the box to find a simple medallion engraved with the single word IT. "What does it mean?" he asks, his voice filling with trepidation. "It means you must run. Run far away. Run and do not return until you've won," replies the dowager, inconsolate.
And thus, a game that's older than time itself begins again.
posted by Nomyte at 8:50 AM on March 4, 2013 [13 favorites]


Poor Mr. Konesky -- he was "it" at the beginning and end of February. Heartless friends he has.
posted by DoubleLune at 8:54 AM on March 4, 2013


Well then, Mr. Konesky best step up his game if he doesn't want to be the go-to It over and over again. Multi-decade games of tag are not for the weak and retiring, but for the strongest and most cunning amongst us! What's your plan, Konesky? What. Is. Your. Plan?
posted by but no cigar at 9:16 AM on March 4, 2013


bystanders who think that funerals should be uniformly solemn

People like that are such a bore. My grandfather's funeral, while sad, was kind of awesome because it was basically a giant family reunion. Obviously, it would have been better to connect under different circumstances, but the death brought us together and allowed us to share a common connection even if we hadn't seen each other in decades.

We also drank a lot of Molson Export, which probably helped lighten the mood.

What? We were in Quebec and it was Grandpa's favourite beer; we had to empty his fridge (and then restock it multiple times in the course of 3 days).
posted by asnider at 9:20 AM on March 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


I see a trilogy of epic fantasy films in the making

I see a George Clooney Joint in the making. Just as soon as he can round up the old Oceans Eleven/Twelve/Thirteen gang.
posted by fuse theorem at 9:23 AM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Not only do I appreciate the camaraderie of this insane venture, I also appreciate their, for lack of a better word, guts. I would not have the stomach for this sort of business and would probably end up locked in a panic room every February.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:37 AM on March 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


We have played a game with some friends for a while that was similar for years.

Essentially, if you could get another friend to say a particularly common possessive pronoun (I can't say it or I am obligated by honour to do the punishment at work), you had to do 10 push-ups immediately wherever you were. The game also was only explained to people on the condition that they had to play for life - if you knew about it, you were in. This involved:

- Stopping cars on freeways;
- Ambushing presentations in school with questions from the crowd from strangers;
- In the middle of chatting up a girl;
- Pretending to be telemarketers over the phone using blocked numbers.

For a while, it made conversation one big trick game - never did you know when someone might be a secret agent for a friend. You always had to keep your guard up, and considering how common the word is, it was essentially a battle of whether or not you could beat your subconscious into never using the word in any context.

Anyways, one of our friends who played passed away a couple of years ago after battling cancer. At the funeral, one of my buddies was a pall bearer and during the procession, another friend asked whose jacket was on the pew at the funeral. He answered using the fateful word - and there was an uncomfortable silence as we all looked at one another - and the other 5 bearers had to stop and hold the coffin of our dead friend while the 6th did his requisite pushups.

It was unbelievably cathartic - I am sure for anyone who didn't understand what was happening, it was bizarre, but for those of us on the inside (a couple dozen of us), it was a moment where we could all connect, collectively grieve and understand the power of our connection to one another.

I get a little teary thinking about it - and a little giddy planning my next sneak attack.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 10:11 AM on March 4, 2013 [59 favorites]


I hope I'm engaged in a decades long game of hide-and-seek at my own funeral. They might find my body, but they'll never find me!
posted by blue_beetle at 10:36 AM on March 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


So, Rodrigo, whose idea was that, anyhow?
posted by TreeRooster at 12:32 PM on March 4, 2013 [12 favorites]


THEY'RE EVERYWHERE!!!
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 2:01 PM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


infinitewindow: "Ah, the old "old Russian novelist" ploy."

Hey! That was my line!
posted by symbioid at 3:01 PM on March 4, 2013


God. I wish there'd been something like this at my father's funeral. Anyone saying that continuing the game at a funeral is inappropriate doesn't understand love.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:46 PM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's a Game Of Thrones joke in there somewhere.

In the Game of Tag, you Win or you're It.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:52 PM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


wenestvedt: "mightygodkink, "

(I know that was a typo, but really if this user name isn't registered by now it sure should be.)
posted by caution live frogs at 9:21 PM on March 4, 2013


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