I forget what year it was exactly but I remember it had snowed enough that we were out of school and I’d been at my friend John’s house. When I left I noticed his younger sister had build a snowman in the front yard and I thought it was a little odd that she’d apparently left his carrot nose and what looked like some beads in various colors scattered on the ground around him. Maybe, I thought, she’d been working on it, gotten too cold, and had gone inside and was planning to come back and finish it later.
When I got home I remembered something I wanted to tell John and called him. His sister answered.
“May I speak to John please?” I asked politely. I was always very formal when speaking to my friends’ younger siblings. I’m not sure why; maybe I was just trying to set a good example. Anyway I wasn’t prepared for her to start screaming at me.
“YOU DID IT!” she shrieked. “YOU PULLED OUT THE EYES AND THE NOSE AND THE BEADS!”
I’m pretty sure she said even more than that but her voice had reached a pitch only audible to dogs and I was completely confused. And amused. When she finally handed the phone to John I couldn’t remember what it was I wanted to tell him but it didn’t matter because I was laughing too hard to say anything. Eventually we figured out what had happened. Our friend Dave, who’d also been at John’s house and left about half an hour before I did, pulled all the decorations out of the snowman and left them on the ground, probably because Dave was the kind of guy who liked to set a bad example. And the whole matter probably would have ended there if I hadn’t impersonated John’s sister’s verbal barrage, and then John copied it, and pretty soon all of our friends were doing it and it became a running joke. It became such a running joke, in fact, that Dave’s part in it was completely forgotten and I’ve taken the blame in perpetuity. Decades later when I was in the hospital getting chemotherapy I got a nice note from John’s sister, now an adult, wishing me a speedy recovery and adding, “I forgive, you, too, even though YOU PULLED OUT THE EYES AND THE NOSE AND THE BEADS!”
Snow sculptures are, by their very nature, ephemeral. They only last as long as temperatures stay below freezing, and while Nashville has had a few exceptional winters when the mercury didn’t rise above the melting point for days and even though snow deflects heat eventually they all disappear. The memories, however, last so much longer.
Also for the last time IT WASN’T ME. IT WAS DAVE THAT DID IT.
It was you. Clearly. Stop denying it. Stop blaming Dave. You may not have taken the beads and carrot off the snowman, physically, but I believe you did it spiritually–through Dave as your vessel of destruction. You just told us in the last post how diabolical and clever you were at this stage of your life, now you are telling us you were not that… pick a side, Christopher. Pick a side. 😉
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If I have to pick a side between being good and innocent and being clever and diabolical I’ll have to go with clever and diabolical. You’ve forced it out of me. Even if I didn’t, consciously or unconsciously, prompt Dave’s actions I still laughed. And it was my fault that it became a running joke among my friends, one that would be remembered decades later. I have to accept full responsibility for that.
“Don’t be like Dave.”
That may seem like good advice but remember who came out ahead when Dave went head-to-head with HAL-9000.
I think you were “lusting in your heart” to do it, but Dave beat you to it first. On the other hand, why didn’t John beat the crud out of Dave for making his sister cry? And shame on all of you for teasing her for all these years. And did Dave wind up as an inmate in a correctional facility at any point?
Dave never became an inmate at a correctional facility–he was, and still is, a good guy, and John laughed as much about his sister’s reaction as the rest of us did. And, for the record, she didn’t cry. She just got really, really, really angry. If she’d been crying I would have felt genuinely bad.
I believe you, Chris–anyone who knows you would know you’d never be mean to a snowman:-)
You’re right, I’d never be mean to a snowman–and, although it might surprise even some who know me, I’d never intentionally be mean to anyone’s younger sister either.
Wow, all those years later? She must have really loved that snowman.
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I’d really feel bad if she loved that snowman but really she remembered it because my friends and I, including her brother, kept repeating that story for years. There were times when all she had to do was walk in the room and all of us would shriek “YOU DID IT! YOU PULLED OUT THE EYES AND THE NOSE AND THE BEADS!” in unison. At one point she said that if she heard it one more time she was going to make a snowman out of mud and shove it so far up my nose it would come out my butt which just gave the whole thing extra life.
I read this when you published it and loved it without leaving anything behind. That’s me.
You didn’t remove anything either, and sometimes just being here is just fine.