Fear stalked the snowy fields. His name was Seth.
He was four years older than me and his mom was friends with my mom. I dreaded their visits to our house, no matter the time of year, knowing they would bring some new combination of humiliation and pain. Head locks, wedgies, dirt eating.
Winter was the worst. Seth was a brute – later in life he worked as a bouncer at a local bar and had a reputation for beating people up – and merciless with a snow ball. His ape hands compressed snow into icy cannon balls. He threw like a pitcher, for the head. My nose remains crooked.
I’d forgotten about Seth until yesterday, when I was Christmas shopping at Eastern Mountain Sports, and came across the wonderfully conceived Arctic Force Snow Trac Ball from Wham-O.
I picked it up, felt the solid grip in my hand, made a few practice throws. I recalled reading somewhere that players of Jai alai, who use hooked rackets to bounce balls against the walls of a special room, are sometimes killed by the speeding projectiles. I bought the snowball flinger on the spot.
Seth, if you haven’t been shived, and you happen to read this, I forgive you. In fact, come for a visit sometime this winter. I’ve got something for you.