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.