I recently attended a retirement party that came with a legal waiver to sign. Oh! Such intrigue! Would I be exposed to industry secrets? Was the nature of this person’s work so sensitive that I would need to be bound LEGALLY to not tell anyone?
No, it was because if you are drunk and wing an axe at someone, the people who own the building want to make sure that they can’t be sued or considered an accomplice. I finally participated in America’s new favorite mortal danger to do while drinking: axe throwing.
Axe throwing itself isn’t new. It’s been around since someone invented one small enough to throw. Or at least, I am assuming. Truth be told, I don’t think I would ever be able to pick something like that up and not think, “I bet I could break the sound barrier with this sonofabitch.” Because of this, I never picked one up. I’ve been involved with too many sketch comedy shows to realize that if you see someone with a prop weapon, they are going to be play acting how to use it to murder someone when they think no one is looking. Or, in many cases, while you make eye contact with them. But having an axe throwing place two doors down from an escape room IS relatively new.
I’m also the type of weirdo who up until this point had never thrown an axe, but often saw them and thought about just, you know, buying and having it around…in case. It’s like the machete I have in my apartment. What use do I have a machete? Absolutely none. But if shit went down, I would crack a smile and know that I HAVE A FUCKING MACHETE! And then promptly cut myself so bad with no access to antibiotics and die the day before society is restored. Also, the machete was a gift. So if someone gifted me a hatchet, I would be extremely appreciative and oil it…? I’m still not sure what axe maintenance is required.
This was also not the first time I have partaken in an activity while drinking which could lead to serious injury that is technically legal. Have you ever played Stump? It’s when you partially place a nail into a tree stump and then you take turns flipping a hammer in the air, catching it, and then try to drive the nail completely into said stump in one deft motion. I’ve done that. In the dark. While the eye I’m not legally blind in was mostly swollen shut due to a medical condition. It fucking ruled. The sparks from the hammer smashing into the nail look cool as shit when you are 8 beers deep. It’s also when pissing in a yard where maybe your friends can’t see, but your neighbors absolutely can seems like the best alternative to walking back inside. Inside is so far!
I was hesitant to get involved in axe throwing for a few reasons:
- As previously noted, I am legally blind in one eye. (Thankfully, that eye is no longer so swollen that it literally prompted several people to blurt out, “What’s wrong with your face?” Granted, this was at a comic book convention, so it’s not a surprise, but it wasn’t fun to hear, especially when I am used to being told how damn handsome I am.) This severely limits my depth perception and anyone who is willing to get into a car I am driving is a fool.
- It’s the type of thing that companies have started sending their employees to as team building exercises. It’s like taking an improv class and when you say, “I need a suggestion.” someone yells, “An armed stranger!”
- I don’t want to spend $40 and Bring My Own B to spend an evening around a lot of people who take something much more seriously than I do. This is the type of activity that some have made their lifestyle and I am only around long enough to have a few drinks and try to sneak out to go home and watch a movie before bed. It’s the same reason you don’t try to see if there is an extra lane open on league night at the bowling alley. I’m too self conscious to roll a 75 next to someone who owns a ball with a deceased family member’s birth and death dates airbrushed on it.
Prior to this retirement party, I visited the location where it was held. Some people I knew were involved in a tournament and it was basically an attempt to indoctrinate me. Every person I was introduced to asked me if I “threw.” My negative response was always greeted with incredulity. “WHAT?! YOU HAVEN’T? YOU FUCKING HAVE TO!” Everyone calm down.
Admittedly, by that point, I was already thinking about coming back, but it was mostly because they have a pinball machine with the greatest backstory conceivable: a rockin’ ass band made up of my favorite monster people!
Upon arrival for the party, we were given a quick safety rundown. I didn’t actually hear what they said because it was loud as fuck in there and I was going to town on some barbecue chips while everyone else was distracted. But once the large group instructional demonstration was over and we had all placed our trays in the proper upright position, we got some more one-on-one training. My coach was not the only one to highly encourage having some beers. Apparently, everyone is better a few drinks deep, but not so drunk they cut you off from throwing axes, not drinking.
Immediately, I said, “Like beer pong.” To which the coach said, “Yes.” NO! It’s not like beer pong! NO ONE HAS AN AXE WHILE PLAYING BEER PONG! If I even show up at a party and people want to play the version of the game where they have an actual ping pong paddle, I throw a fit. No foreign objects. (If you assert that beer pong is actually played with paddles and the game where you throw the ball is called Beirut, kindly throw yourself out of the party and into an asshole receptacle.)
That being said, I had two beers and I suddenly thought I was god’s gift to hatchets. I was sticking that axe in the board like I was the natural born hunter I always suspected I was. Was anyone looking? Were they seeing how much of a fucking killing machine I could be? Was I going to get recruited in some axe throwing version of Rookie of the Year? No. Because a few additional beers and me hearing Jock Jams in my head for an hour, when it came time to actual have a proper match involving a score, I was lucky I wasn’t escorted out of the state for child endangerment.
Oh, yeah…did I mention how many children were there? Like…a lot. I’m curious as to when we as a culture decided to just take kids everywhere. I’m not complaining or shaming or anything of the sort, but I don’t think I have ever been to a brewery where people weren’t like, “Fuck it, I’m taking my baby with me.” This extends to axe throwing places it seems.
Anyways, yeah, I started to suck. I got into my own head. I got too confident and actually forgot what I was supposed to be doing. At one point, I hit myself in the back of the head with the flat part of the hatchet. A clear indication that I needed to get my shit together or go home.
And the entire time I was being a danger to myself, people were trying to encourage me to join a league. Sir…I haven’t hit a bullseye in an hour and I have tennis elbow now. Maybe I’m not a prime candidate to join your association. But I won’t lie: I had a lot of fun. And I have considered joining a league. It’s cheaper then just showing up on a random night to “check out the action” and I can talk shit about how much “throwing” I’m doing to anyone who isn’t watching me bank an axe off the chainlink fence separating the lanes.
Will I actually do it? Insert shrug emoji. I don’t know. I liked it. It was an excuse to get out of the house for a while. It would be nice to have something regular to do and prevent me from having the type of free time that mostly consists of me screaming internally because I just suddenly remembered something awkward I did 17 years ago. And even if I do, I don’t think I could ever live up to the commitment of the shaved head and long beard aesthetic that I have associated with most contestants. My head isn’t shaped right for that and I don’t like the way my face itches when I let my beard get too long. Either way, I will go back just to try and beat GG’s high score on Monster Bash. Also…if you own the license for Monster Bash the pinball game, please contact me on this website so that I may speak with you about a screenplay I am writing.