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.