American Sniper Mode On (A Birthday Story)

Thanks to the Soares

First off I must thank Mari and Ricky Soares, for without the 11th birthday party for their son, Johnny, coupled with a delay from Mother Nature and a truce between my son and his mother, I never would have gotten to play Commando (Schwarzenegger).

Easily the best birthday party I have been to since the days when I drank.

Now onto the story, as 5 games of paintball will undoubtedly require an IV of Ibuprofen within 6 hours, and Hospital Sao Camilo has bad WiFi.


I was prepped and ready to go. Like all good soldiers — Charlie Sheen, Marky Mark, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, and Bradley Cooper — I had my warpaint on.

And like them, I also had a breakfast of cheesebread, a lovely croissant of turkey and cheese, and wholewheat frenchbread, seared with buffalo cream cheese. All of this topped off by a soy latte with just a touch of french vanilla.

Now it was time to go all 'Nam! (That is Viet Nam, for those of you not American, or not old enough to know.)

Interestingly, there seemed to be some stereotyping going on among the 10–11 year olds. When I was a kid, we thought all African-Americans could play basketball until we saw the film Soul Man. Similarly, we presume that all Brazilians can play soccer, but a 7–1 to Germany and a 0–0 tie with Ecuador proves that is not true.

Yet, most kids seemed to think I would be good at Paintball because Americans know guns. Well, we are about to find out.

Pre Training and Battle Readiness

Knowing I was going to play paintball, I did watch Mission Impossible and The Hunger Games — Mockingjay the day before. However, I could hardly benefit from CIA type operations and a woman who used a bow and arrow.

I would just have to rely on general osmosis from having watched a ton of war/spy like films since A Bridge Too Far to the most recent Bond Film. (Similar to how Brazil chooses Ministers — the Health Minister once shopped at a Pharmacy so he is qualified.)

Also, having been born when Brazil only had two World Cups, I knew I would have to conserve energy against an army of kids who were born 3–4 years after the Penta.


We were then put under the watchful eye of Giovanni, who gave instructions. I would post a photo, but his identity is a secret. He asked for silence, for the kids to pay attention, to ask questions related to the material, and to not interrupt.

Let me be the first to say how happy I am we spend a fortune at St. Nicholas as the kids obeyed all of his orders, ONLY THE OPPOSITE. #SQN #NOT

I am mainly joking, but these kids are goofballs — interrupting, asking bizarre questions, talking over each other. Reminds me of my company meetings. Poor Giovanni. Glad he was not armed!

Sensing the rising stress in the room, Gio recognized it was ''A Time To Kill," or, you know, shoot some CO2 compressed paint at each other.

Gear Up you Maggots! (It's a Marine Phrase)

Battle prep consisted of camouflage, gloves, balaclava (no, not the greek dessert — that is baclava), ‘’bullet proof vest,’’ mask, semi-automatic rifle and ammunition. For a certain subset of participants, elastics for the proper pony tail or braids, combing, detangling and straightening, and protection against the hazardous effects of paint on your follicles. A day of combat should never get in the way of dinner at Gero.

A photo of my work below.

I will also be opening the “MSG School of Combat and Salon” shortly in Jardim Europa. You all will receive a discount on your first highlighting, or a Rocket Propelled Grenade.

Suiting up, despite the amount of equipment previously mentioned, is rather a simple process. Look:

Javier. Nice, sweet, boy. Tri-lingual. Loves soccer and futbol and futebol. Put a mask on him:

Natural Born Killer. We renamed him The Spaniard, in honor of Russell Crowe in Gladiator.

Heck, I am not even sure that is him, which is the point.

Above is the Johnny's Army.

Below your Staff Sergeants. Just like Louis Gossett Junior in An Officer and a Gentleman (Richard Gere, Debra Winger — worth watching).

Ready for Action!

Thunderdome! 2 Teams Enter, 1 Team Leaves

(I apologize as I will have to give my summary of the battles, as I, like everyone, had no idea who I was shooting against, and could barely see through the fogged up mask)

  1. Battle #1: Your first battle is like a blur. Your adrenaline is pumping. All your senses are heightened; you are like Bond, Bourne, Hunt, Jack Bauer. OK, I could be exaggerating, but hey, I sell Solar Panels for a living. Anyway, I soon realize that my soldiers are just basically video gaming it — spraying bullets everywhere with no strategy or aim. I want to give advice, but hey, no one listens to me. [No, seriously, no one listens to me. Have you met my daughter Rafaela?] Anyway, we capture the flag but have an issue taking into the enemy camp. To assist, I remember a move I saw Marky Mark do in Lone Survivor. I decide to shoot for cover and then run forward to provide cover fire for my flag team. Sounds good. I fire a raft of bullets, take three steps, lose my balance, and fall on my face. Did I mention I was born when Brazil only had 2 World Cups? Old Soldier = Dead Soldier.
  2. Battle #2: This battle I planned to be more aggressive. I branched out and within 2 minutes Thomas Lohmann takes me out at long range. #Dead #Morto.
  3. Battle #3: It all came together in this battle. I recognized that the kids all went for the center, so I outflanked them to the outside and saw they were vulnerable. The rest was ''shooting fish in a barrel (metaphor for easy).'' Down goes 1, 2 and 3. Should I have felt bad shooting children? War is hell, buddy! On the second kill, I heard a familiar scream — it was my son, Rodrigo. I guess as his dad, I should have felt guilty, but instead, all I could think of was: Remember that time you threw a tantrum (pirraça) in Starbucks? #Vengeance finally! (I did point out that I am an adult, right?)
  4. Battle #4: (Guest Author Rodrigo) Since the game started I felt we were going to win, because the last time on that field we won with good strategies. We had the advantage, but, they somehow got the flag. However, I went behind a wheel with a good angle, landed a head shot on the one with the flag, and another on a support soldier. Since they only had a few people left, we provided cover fire, took the flag and planted it at their base for the victory. (Author's note: Johnny's brother Petey, who I had inadvertently killed twice — again, I could not tell it was Petey, honestly — killed me at long range, and told me it was ''revenge!'' Perhaps he can find employment as a child soldier in Africa.)
  5. Battle #5: We had little time, so had to rush for this one. My arrested adolescence (imaturidade) was on full display: Example 1 — Nice Boy David: "Some people are not playing, can we readjust the teams?" Me: ''They are close enough in number, just kill everyone." Example 2 — Then I realized that someone had taken my gun. I see Savio approaching. "Savio, I need your gun." Savio responds, ''I was going to shoot target practice.'' Me? ''No you're not," and I take the gun — there is a battle to fight (Sorry Barbara; hope I did not scar him for life.) However, this gun has no bullets, so I run back out to the shooting range. Example 3 — ''Joao Batista, I need a gun.'' Joao Batista: ''Take this one, it has lots of bullets.'' I go back in, a couple of kills, then Jose Castro puts me out my misery with a chest shot!

Games Over!

The Co-ed (Mixed Male and Female) Army

So one final point before a goodbye. For the girls that came out, a special appreciation. They fought, got injured, suffered fire ant bites, recovered, all while retaining their charm. These boys will be in trouble :)

Right in the Eye
Smile then Kill

Thanks again Soares Family; that was exceedingly enjoyable.

Ciao. Until the next war!