1989, I am 15.
Snowball fights are a big part of life during the Chicago winters. Kids from area blocks meet in vacant lots where we create shallow foxholes and construct pretend bunkers for snow-throwing war.
It is all in fun and everybody is at the same level of ability to make, throw, and dodge snowballs. From time to time we get lucky shots where a snowball crunches into its target making us feel like masters of our realm. Until the next missed throw reveals that we master no realms.
Nick is a kid from the neighborhood. A star athlete. He’s on both the wrestling and baseball team. He is that somebody that you never want to egg on into any form of competition especially a snowball fight.
In a blink, Nick can turn a cupped handful of snow into a hard compacted snow-baseball. Not only is he deadly accurate with rapid-fire ability but his snowballs are thrown with an intention and aggression. They aim to seek out and destroy the target.
The worst part, this dude doesn’t even need to make snowballs and he doesn’t hide when he plays. While we duck and hide Nick walks up the war zone relaxed with his arms to his side daring us to throw a snowball. For those who have tried they learn the hard way that even if throwing with all your young might, without any effort Nick plucks that play-anger snowball out of the air, pats it twice, and sends it back to you singing a hateful hiss. Even if he misses the way he gets snow to scrape through the air steps the game up to be less of a game and more like a life and death situation that you want to just shut off, but can't.
It's something so humiliating and humbling about getting hit in the face with your own snowball that really makes you think twice about what you throw and who you “play” with.