23 years of tag has kept these friends together

Tag, set for release on June 15, is a movie about five friends who have engaged in a "no-holds-barred game of tag" since the first grade. It looks pretty typical and fairly comical. 

However, it's based on a true story - a brilliant story - of nine buddies who have refused to let time and distance come between their brotherhood. And their story is the antithesis of typical.

The Guardian first wrote about it in April in 2013.

"As teenagers," the article starts, "a group of friends and I spent every spare moment at school playing tag. The game developed into more than just chasing each other round the playground; it involved strategy and cunning. But when I failed to tag someone in the last moments before school broke up for summer – he'd locked himself in his car to avoid it – I resigned myself to for ever being "it".

Until their 10-year reunion.

Everyone had moved off to college to the games had sort of "fizzled out," but when they reunited once more, someone suggested starting it up again and everyone agreed. "We had busy lives and lived hundreds of miles apart," so they came up with three simple rules: 

1. The game could only be play in February
2. You are not allowed immediately to tag back the person who's tagged you
3. You had to declare to the group that you were "it"

Over the next 23 years, these friends kept finding new and creative ways to tag their buddies. "Eleven months of the year are spent planning. Collaborating with a friend is where the fun is – we can spend hours discussing approaches."

I love that. How a simple game of tag kept friends in touch and connected with each other - something we all deeply crave but have little time for. But these guys make time for it, spend money on it, and make it a priority of life. Even if, at times, it means avoiding your friends. Like Patrick does.

"Patrick," the article reads and the movie portrays, "who does everything he can to avoid being caught, sometimes spends February in Hawaii." When he learned that his buddies were there, at the airport waiting for him, he "hired a man to hold up a card with his name on it in arrivals, so one of us would wait near it. Then he slipped out of another exit."


So too was "one of the most unexpected tags" because it was at a funeral . . . of a Mike's father. "During the service, {Mike} felt a hand on his shoulder and turned to find Joe mouthing, 'You're it.'" And Mike didn't even care, because he knew his father "found our game hilarious."

Daring. But brilliant.

I'm terrible at keeping up with old, good, and great friends. Just terrible at it. And it's not because I don't care because I really do. It's just hard is all, and I'm really not sure why. There's Facebook, email, text, phone calls, and old fashion letter writing. Yet, I never seem to make it happen. After reading this article, I've begun to wonder if the ease of communication prevents me from doing it - because it's always there, and I can just do it later, no problem. 

Tag, over hundreds of miles, takes effort and collaboration. It takes intentionality and time. Which, unsurprisingly, are the same ingredients for great friendships, as these now old men have discovered. 

"The best thing about the game is that it has kept us in touch over all these years – it forces us to meet and has formed a strong bond between us, almost like brothers."

Anyone up for a game of tag?