Let It Snow, Let Them Throw, Let it Go
My first thought was the usual angry, "what the hell?", then I hit the brakes.
I don't really mind getting snowballed; it happens to me a couple of times every winter. When I was younger, it might have evoked some kind of violent reaction and perhaps a creative driving maneuver or two, but I'm pretty much passed that stage of my life for a couple of reasons. One, I do not drive nice vehicles. My current car is a white '98 minivan with a missing gas cap; one of the few flattering things one can say about it is that it makes a nice target for people who like throwing projectiles at a moving car. Two, being a reformed hurler of ice myself, I'm inclined to cut some slack to kids with a little pent up angst and too much time on their hands. And three, a married father of two really shouldn't be punching 14-year-olds; it's illegal and pathetic, not to mention the off chance that a gang of 14-year-olds could beat me into an early coma, which would be a little embarrassing.
All that having been said, I did not just drive off. That would not only be a blow to my already-diminished alpha male dominance, but also a disservice to the angst-ridden youths. Hitting a car with a snowball is only fun if there's the potential for serious repercussions…this is why you seldom see young toughs pelting parked cars at the local Piggly Wiggly. This is also why I had to stop…they wanted it, I wanted it.
I smiled as I put the car in reverse and imagined them screaming, "Sh--, he's coming back", while feverishly retreating to the safety of a waiting bush or an alley on the next block. That's when I saw them. They were retreating all right, but it wasn't to some remote hiding place, it was through their well-lit garage and into the warmth and comfort of their split-level family room. Now, I was pissed. If you want to hit a car with a snowball, you really should have the common decency to at least commit yourself to it. This was like robbing a bank and then saying, "Just kidding" when the cops started lobbing tear gas canisters through the window.
I decided that I needed to take it a step further and actually back into the driveway. I had unconsciously picked up speed as I was wheeling down the street, which caused me to slide a little when I slammed on the brakes in front of the garage, guess I still had one creative driving maneuver left in me. I thought this was a nice touch though, very "Rockford Files"…show them I was not to be trifled with. God, they had to really be soiling themselves at this point. Then I rolled down the window and put my head out, just to kind of put an exclamation point on the whole encounter…maybe give the illusion that I was noting their address.
It was then that I noticed a figure standing behind my car with his arms crossed. At first I thought it was one of the kids, but then I noticed that he was about my age…it had to be the father of these useless cowards! I was too stunned to speak at first, so I just glared. Then I managed to blurt out, "Did you just hit my car with a snowball?" It came out more threatening than I'd intended, like my right hand was frantically searching the floor for a tire iron. If I'd thrown an "MFer" on the end of the sentence, it could have been a sound bite from "Cops". This had all transpired so fast, I didn't know what might happen next. A confrontation? An apology? An all out attack on the van from the entire clan of ne'er-do-wells? Then he says, "hey, the kids were just trying to have a little fun". "The kids were just having a little…" "You think it's fun to…" A lot of things raced through my mind but what I actually said was, "Nice Example you set for your kids!", before pealing out of the drive way…very un-Rockford-like.
I'm not sure how it had turned so quickly, but suddenly I was feeling like a jerk. I, who did nothing wrong. Me, the great defender of slacker youth culture everywhere…JERK! It took me a little while to calm down. I spent a good five minutes entertaining a scenario wherein I returned to his house around 2am with several high school pitchers and we started pelting his windows with ice balls. I imagined him stumbling bleary-eyed into the night in his robe and slippers, where I would calmly exclaim, "Hey, the kids were just trying to have a little fun", then I'd drive off with my teenage posse flipping him off from the back of a vintage Ford F-150. I hadn't quite worked out how I'd run across the baseball players, or how the F-150 got there, but that's not really the point, now is it?
I must have ran through 5 or 6 such payback scenarios, all ending with me employing my signature "kids just having fun" line, but by about scenario 4 the process was more humorous than vengeful. In the end, I thought it better to relate the story here, and then mail a copy of the article to this family of snowball wielding yellow bellies. Maybe the kids will learn that swinging on a trapeze is a lot more exciting when you're more than 2 feet off the ground. And perhaps their dad will have a better understanding of why someone would send a minivan careening down a residential street for something as innocent as a thrown snowball. Either way, this is much cheaper than laying out money for compensatory damages to property and a bitching F-150.
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There’s an old joke that goes, Chicago has two seasons, winter and construction, which I guess is funny to those who don’t actually live here. For the rest of us, it’s a none-to-gentle reminder of the circle of life; men fix roads, weather destroys roads, men fix roads; good news for construction workers, bad news for innocent commuters such as myself.
Ah, here is 14 February ! Another Valentine’s day for the year 2008. The world celebrates this day by sending cards, flowers and gifts to their lovers.
On January 1st, the state of Illinois began an all out smoking ban in public places. This came to me as a bit of a shock. Oh sure, the state had announced that it was going to institute such a ban, but I never really believed it would come to pass, at least not in the city of Chicago.
Some small incidents or encounters during your young age life, have a tremendous influence on your behaviour, philosophy of life, decision making etc in your later life. They become your guide stars too.
Call it a good or bad or an undesirable habit. But I can’t give up the practice of stopping someone on a public road and talking with him. “An instant friendship maker” kind of strategy.