Ice Balls And Eyeballs Do Not A Pair Make
Back in the day when I was a young’un, we had some, what today would be considered, bad winters. Back then it was normal for the snow to start fallin’ around the middle of November and not hardly stop ’til sometime around late April. We generally had snow layin’ on the ground in some capacity for at least four months.
However, in those days it was rare we would get a snow day from school. Our buses had chains on the tires and I’ve seen ’em run with at least 2 inches of snow on the road. It had to be a really bad snow come through before they would call school off.
On one particular such day, me a my buddies was out, as usual, trompin’ through the snow, doin’ what boys do, when somebody came up with the bright notion that we was gonna have us a humdinger of a snowball fight. I wasn’t exactly interested in the idea, but I didn’t wanna be the odd man out, so I agreed.
We divided up into two teams and commenced to makin’ us up an arsenal of snowballs. The snow was just perfect for ’em too, it was one of those really good wet snows that I now hate, but back then I thought was just wonderful. You could make up any size snowball ya wanted and we would always make a few different sizes for different situations.
Now, we didn’t have a normal snowball fight, no sir, we did it the hillbilly way. It was kinda like a mix between hide and seek and playin’ war, ‘cept we had real ammunition, and ya didn’t quit when ya got hit neither, ya just kept right on chuckin’ them snowballs as fast as ya could.
Well, two of my friends, Jackie and Matt, had snuck up on the front porch of my house and had been layin’ in wait there for some time. I hadn’t really noticed them missin’ ’cause there was snowballs flyin’ in every which direction. Yes sir, they had been up there long enough for Matt to make a decent fist sized snowball and then hold it in his hands without gloves long enough for that ball to start meltin’ and then he would lay it down for a while so as it could freeze back.
He kept that up ’til he had him, not a snowball, but an iceball. A fist sized ball of semi-hard ice that him and Jackie just knew would be hilarious when it hit somebody, ’cause it would hurt quite a bit more than just a snowball. Boys bein’ boys and all.
By this time, everybody had scattered out so as not to get hit so much and have to constantly be diggin’ snow outta our shirts and quite often, our underwear, dependin’ on how long the coat you had on was. That was some cold snow when it got down to the crack of your hind-end and started to meltin’.
As it was, I came sneakin’ down the far side of the house, ever on the lookout for the enemy. I got down to the end of the house where the basement door was, and it crossed my mind to go on in the basement and warm up right good, ’cause that’s where the coal furnace was, and a favorite thawin’ out spot for us. Lookin’ back on it now, I wished I would’a.
Anyhow, I peeked around the corner to see if there was anybody in the front part of the yard. Now, there’s a gutter downspout on the outside, porch side of the house, and I was peekin’ through the space between the house and gutter downspout.
Next thing I knew, I had this awful, burnin’ and hurtin’ pain in my left eye as I’d never felt before, and I fell to the ground, holdin’ my hand over my eye, screamin’ and hollerin’ like ya’d think I was dyin’. Shoot, at that moment, I thought I was.
Now here’s what happened. Remember I told ya Matt and Jackie had holed up on the front porch? Keep in mind that the porch was at least eight foot off the ground and they had a perfect spot to see anybody comin’ around either corner of the house.
One of ’em, I don’t know which one, saw me peekin’ around that corner and Matt let that iceball fly. For him it was a lucky shot, ’cause there wasn’t but maybe three inches between the wall and downspout. I’m not real sure how they even seen me, ’cause there wasn’t nothin’ but my ear and eye pokin’ out. But see me they did.
It was unlucky for me ’cause that iceball hit me square in the left eye, I mean the whole thing, not just a piece of it. Matt must’a put all he had behind that throw ’cause it felt like a mule had kicked me. He must’a figured out he threw it too hard too, ’cause the first thing I heard in the split second before I commenced to screamin’ was “Oh Shit!”
A few seconds after I hit the ground, Matt and Jackie were kneelin’ down beside me. I’m sure that at first, Matt figured he’d done went and put my eye out and he knew he’d be in a heap of trouble. “Are you alright?” I heard him ask me, voice kinda nervous. I swear, if I’d had a fake eyeball with me, I would’a had it in my hand and showed it to him just so he’d piss his britches.
Once they finally got my hand away from my eye and seen that I wasn’t bleedin’ or anything, (We used bleedin’ and the amount of said bleedin’ as a gauge to the seriousness of the injury) they commenced to horse laughin’ and since Matt was so relieved that my eyeball was still in inside my skull where it ought to be, he figured he could brag about his spot on throw.
Well, this ‘ole boy wasn’t havin’ anymore to do with it and I went in the house, still holdin’ my eye. I couldn’t see out of it, partly because the force of the blow had temporarily blinded that eye and partly because I still had ice in my eye.
They came in a couple times to check on me, to see if I had gotten my sight back. I’m pretty sure it had more to do with the fact that they would’a got an ass beatin’ if I didn’t that actual worry.
I didn’t go back outside that day because even after a lot of the pain went away, I couldn’t hold my eye open for more’n a minute or so. Happily I can report that I did in fact get my sight back, my eyeball didn’t fall out and we was all best of buds again the next day.
To this day we still talk about the day that Matt made a perfect throw with an iceball and almost replaced my left eye with it. We laugh about it all now, but there was a brief time I wasn’t sure I would ever talk to either one of ’em again. But that’s the way friends are, or are supposed to be. That’s the way we were back then, we could almost kill one another, literally, and then later in the day or the next day, everything was forgotten and fine.
One last thing … I didn’t play snowballs anymore after that and to this day I get mad if someone throws one at me. Funny how things like that can shape your life.