Beware the snow. Beware the man you think you know.
– Catherine Fisher
There’s nothing like snow to trigger the magic of memory.
Last week’s modest measure is a good example, offering not only children the chance to be children but adults the chance to be children, too.
Snow can be exhilarating because it unleashes inhibitions and inspires creativity. Just look at the photos in calendars. Just look at the lines in poetry collections. And just look at my college fraternity.
We had more fun with snow than just about any resource Mother Nature had the grace to place within our grasp.
I left the South to go to college in a land of frequent freezes. That’s how I learned from the more experienced snow men that it’s best to have fun with it.
Sorority girls helped.
A wintertime rivalry had arisen between our two houses, probably over some individual romantic disagreement that eventually escalated into the challenge of a nighttime snowball fight on the campus quadrangle.
The girls dared us to show up at 9 p.m. We accepted the challenge and arrived at 8:30 to furiously pre-make snowballs, which we hid in piles behind trees and trash cans. Then, perhaps two-thirds of our force hid itself in the dark shadows of nearby buildings.
The girls showed up right on time, about 20 of them dressed like Ali MacGraw look-alikes from Love Story, a popular film of the day. There were probably six guys standing there to meet them.
The fight began with the giddy young women scooping and whooping and throwing their missiles, and the outnumbered guys appearing to fluster and flee. Sensing victory, the well-bundled Amazons followed them aggressively into a large yard between two big buildings, and the trap was sprung.
Suddenly, dark, shrieking male figures sprang from behind trees and from around corners, and a snowball bombardment was unleashed.
It was so stunning and so surprising that the female warriors all quit throwing snowballs and instead huddled together in a group, turning the backs of their heavy coats toward the attack.
Before you could say, “George Armstrong Custer,” young men were circling them like Indians around the wagon train. With one arm you’d hold a bunch of pre-made snowballs; with the other you’d throw.
Laughing and yelling added to the pleasure. Especially the laughing.
It was so funny, an abrupt turn of fortune. Victory assured, we quit throwing, but kept laughing. Even after the girls left. Even the next day. For weeks, someone would bring it up and we’d all start laughing again.
I laugh as I write this.
Snow, as always, freeze frames the memory.