Today, I played freeze tag with about 30 other grown-up individuals on Wall street. Here's one thing I love about New York. I was at a party last night talking to some folks about my blog. A girl I had never met was listening nearby and told me that she had a suggestion for a fun activity that she was willing to bet I'd never done before. I was intrigued. She suggested I join a game of freeze tag that she would be attending the next day. Freeze tag? Sounded interesting. When I asked who's hosting the shindig and she said, "some guy named Levy". Hmm . . . what the heck? Twelve hours later, my brave friend, Erin Bomboy, and I trudged in our three layers of clothes to the corner of Wall Street and Broad to play outdoor games with people we've never met.
Turns out, this guy, Levy (Matt to be precise) and his family run these sorts of fun activities all the time. They have a company called Unique New York (www.levysuniqueny.com) that gives various themed tours of the city and surrounding areas. I guess they run these games for locals in their free time. As we waited for the festivities to begin, I looked around. The punctual folks numbered about 8 to start, but amongst the 8 of us were some very interesting characters. Supposedly, I had missed the memo that interesting facial hair was the theme for the men. Mutton chops, 'staches, you name it. Both men and women were sporting every variation of bohemian/grunge/urban layered clothes that I had ever seen. A guy near me straightened his vintage coke bottle glasses and tied his high top Converse sneakers while he talked about racing decorated shopping carts from Brooklyn to Coney Island (apparently another of the Levys' group activities). People wandered to the corner and asked, "freeze tag?", were answered in the affirmative, and stayed. Nobody seemed to know one another. I started to really wonder if this would be an awkward gathering.
Suddenly, our tour guide, the infamous Matt, ran out from behind a mail box and started tagging people. "Let's play some freeze tag, people!". Okay, the party had started. Then a television camera showed up. Classic New York moment. I think they were taping for some show on HG TV. The great thing is, I didn't really care. Nobody else did either. Matt gathered the growing group to a corner, set up the rules and boundaries, and closed his eyes and started counting. What?!?! I wasn't ready! I ran to "home base" and put down my bag and sprinted to a corner. Within five minutes, it didn't matter that we didn't know each other. It wasn't awkward anymore. We were back in kindergarten. Screaming, laughing, running. From time to time, we would lose who was "it" and someone else would say something like "Red hat is it" or "It's Shorts". As more people arrived and the group grew, we all gathered nicknames as we played. I laughed when Erin's kindergarten self was named "Fuzzy Jacket". After a few rounds, Matt switched up the games. "Blob tag" and "Sheep, Wolf, Rock" were added to the playground repertoire (see video below). The camera guy stood in the middle and got creamed from time to time and we scared the pants off of numerous foreign tourists. It was heaven.
Erin and I ran and screamed for an hour and then started to feel the cold. We walked north and snuggled up to warm soup and comfort food at a diner in Soho, still glowing from the exertion. I felt a familiar tingling in my cheeks and thighs as I warmed up. When had I felt this before? Then I remembered. It was the post-playing-in-the-snow-all-day-as-a-kid feeling. I smiled. I guess there's always a kid in all of us.