The Perfect Snowball

The Perfect Snowball

It is now Wednesday, and people are still upset that a tax evader and woman beater stole $100 from them by dancing in a ring for 12 rounds last Saturday. If you got burned by the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight this weekend, I’d like to make things up to you a little bit by sharing the story of the only time I’ve been punched in the face.

It may surprise you to learn that I did not get into fights growing up. There are two main reasons for this:

  • While other kids were learning sweet fight moves from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, I was learning about The Hunchback of Notre Dame from a Jack Russell Terrier named Wishbone.
  • I have the physique of a walking stick.

These two things kept me safe from scuffles all the way into junior high. Then the Perfect Snowball happened.

The day started in the best way possible: getting woken up by my mom telling me that school’s cancelled. I do not believe anyone who grew up in the South is capable of fully understanding true joy, because they’ve never experienced that moment.

I spent the morning doing what you do when you have a snow day: eating waffles, playing Mario Kart, watching The Price Is Right and begging my mom to take us sledding. By noon, I had finally secured a sledding commitment, but only if I shoveled the driveway with my brother, Jesse.

I walked out the door and stepped into a foot and a half of snow. “Come on!” I shouted down the stairs.


Jesse was a little salty because he couldn’t find gloves and had just lost three games of Mario Kart in a row.

I walked outside and picked up a handful of snow. It was perfect. There are only one or two storms a year where everything comes together to create the type of snow where you can reach down, close your hand and come up with a perfectly formed snowball. This truly was a special day.

I walked to the garage, got the good shovel and started shovelling our driveway. After five minutes, Jesse still wasn’t outside. I walked back to the door. He wasn’t getting off that easy.



I huffed, walked to the backyard and busied myself by making a snowball, refusing to shovel one more flake of snow by myself.

By the time Jesse finally emerged, I had created the most beautiful snowball formed by human hands. It was a perfect sphere and carried a surprising amount of heft for its size.

Jesse completely ignored me and my masterpiece. Instead, he marched straight to the good shovel with his thin, girly gloves that were probably already soaking wet.

“Hey Jesse!” I called out while simultaneously launching the Perfect Snowball in his direction.

Before I continue, I need to remind you that I am one of the worst athletes ever. I have pretty much never been pleased with the result of a throw I’ve attempted.

This throw was different.

Jesse turned to face me. “Wha…”

The next three things happened at the exact same millisecond:

  • Jesse turned to fully face the oncoming snowball.
  • His mouth was making a perfect “O” for the “ha” portion of “what.”
  • The snowball hit him square in the mouth.

The throw was timed so perfectly that Jesse literally did not know what hit him. He stood there for a second with snow dripping off his face trying to process what had just happened. He spit out a giant chunk of snowball. Then his eyes turned to flames.

Even from 20 feet away, I could see the fury in his eyes. This was not Annoyed Jesse, this was not Upset Jesse, this was not Angry Jesse. This was BURNING RAGE OF 1,000 SUNS Jesse.

I struggle with an unfortunate character trait that always seems to make things much worse when I’m getting in trouble or arguing with my wife or staring into the flaming eyes of 1,000 BURNING SUNS: I cannot stop cracking up when something funny happens.

That proved to be too much for Jesse. He charged like a bull. I laughed some more. He let out a primal yell. I started crying from laughter.

He punched me in the face with every ounce of his strength. The punch landed with a loud “THUNK,” thanks in large part to the thinness of his girly gloves.

The punch hurt a lot. It led to sledding getting cancelled. Mario Kart and television too.

It was, without a doubt, one of the ten greatest moments of my life.


Some snowballs are worth a punch in the face.


2 Comments The Perfect Snowball

  1.'Vicky Hatfield

    I still have the original version of this that you wrote in high school. I use it as an example of a great narrative paragraph written by someone who doesn’t write textbooks for a living. But you’ve only gotten better with age. I love reading your posts every week. Keep up the good work! You make this teacher proud!

    1. Dustin

      That’s awesome, thanks! I was wishing I still had it while I was writing it to remember better how it went. Haha.


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