For whole of the past week, I have been meaning to write about the most interesting of all games I have recently played, the ‘Bottle’. But I couldn’t get to it because I had to wait for my (slightly) mangled wrist (thanks to GBC Men’s Retreat Volley Ball and the ‘Bottle’ games) to get better. Today, when West mentioned in the Sermon that he got the ‘J’ word for being aggressive at ‘Bottle’ from one of the affectionate and assertive ladies in the Church staff, my resolve to write this increased. After Church as I was sitting outside reading Michael Horton’s “Gospel Driven Life”, Wes (I didn’t forget the ‘t’ there, this is not West, a different guy) walked up to me and said, “I loved the goal you scored at Bottle. That totally changed the strategy of the game”. Then I decided that I had to write about the ‘Bottle’, tonight.
The ‘Bottle’ is a game that was played at the GBC Men’s Retreat last weekend. Basically, it is a game of Ruby played in a pool with a bottle filled with water instead of an oddly shaped ball. The game mostly has to do with testosterone-driven brute Strength and Determination to not let go of the bottle no-matter-what, even if you are getting strangled beneath a pile of men over you. What makes the game interesting is that underwater, the bottle is almost invisible. There are two teams, two goal posts and only one rule – if a guy stops fighting and goes limp underwater, do the Christian thing and pull him up. I exaggerated it a bit there. Actually, it is not as violent as it sounds.
This being the first time I played ‘Bottle’, my first reaction was a mile shock (in the last Men’s Retreat, I went Skeet shooting instead of playing ‘Bottle’). When a guy gets the bottle immediately there appears a pile of male bodies over him trying to take the bottle away. I got into one of those piles and my immediate thought was, “Hmmm, looks like this is an easy way to get a fractured fore arm”. At that moment I resolved that my first goal in ‘Bottle’ was to make sure that I wouldn’t have broken bones. My second goal was to come up with a saner ‘strategery’ for playing the game.
I decided that I was NOT going to get into the pile of brutes. Instead, whenever there was a pile of bodies, I would analyze the pile to see who in the opponent team was the biggest threat to us losing control of the bottle and then go behind him and pull him out of the pile. Sometimes, it had the effect of breaking the pile. I SOOOOO enjoyed that. Pulling a guy who is holding on to the bottle or the guy with the bottle with all strength he can muster gives sort of a testosterone-kick. Basically I grab his wrists and start unwrenching his clasp and then have a mini wrestling match until I have pulled him out completely. Besides the testosterone-kick, the good thing about this is that the chances of a fractured limb is slim. Anyways, I was doing this over and over again and having a great time.
Every now and then the bottle gets lost under the pile of bodies and it is quite some time before folks realize that the bottle is no longer at the center. Then folks have to search for the invisible bottle underwater. It is in one of those moments that I realized that there was an interesting strategy for the game… I was near our team’s goal post. Everyone was searching for the lost bottle. I felt something hit my leg I knew it was the bottle. I knew if I disclosed knowledge of my possession I’ll be below a pile of male bodies, not a desirable place to be in. I didn’t make a noise. I feigned to be searching for the bottle and slowly started zig zagging towards the other goal post.
Everyone was frantically searching. Hiding the smirk, I was gleefully making my way to the goal post. Suddenly, I heard West singing Amy Grant’s “Emmanuel…. God with us” over and over again. West has a great instinct for the Bottle. West somehow figured out I had the bottle, body language I suspect. The opponent team sent out a guy to check me out… So this guy comes up behind me and gives me an ‘TSA patdown’. He didn’t quite check my hand, may be he thought it was too obvious a hiding place. He pronounced me ‘clean’.
Better one guy’s ‘TSA patdown’ than a pile of male bodies. Relieved, I continued zig zagging my way to the goal post. I think West was still singing “Emmanuel… “. West was unconvinced. Apparently he can sense the ‘Bottle’ just like the evil Sauraun can sense the presence of the ‘Ring’ in the Lord Of The Rings. When I got to the goal post there was none there. I took the bottle from under the water the kept it between the goal post. I could hear the stands erupt with laughter and cheers behind me. WOW!!!
‘Bottle’ became not just a game of BRUTE strength but of cunning and stealth as well! After all, it is wit that makes the man. Having a water-life of only 15 to 20 minutes, I start getting cramps. At the end of our match, when I got out of the pool with sorely cramped legs, George said you are MVP. I asked what does MVP mean. He said with his usual smirk and cute head-nod, “Most Valuable Player”. A compliment from a wounded-warrior to a fellow comrade couldn’t be more welcome. When West walked out of the service at Church, I ‘got his word’ that that he getting the ‘J’ word wouldn’t stop ‘Bottle’ from being played in the next GBC Men’s Retreat.