Part I: The Pregame
My good friend Brian moved to Athens Georgia a few short years after high school. He always had a little country in him so we all felt that although the move was sudden it wasn’t all that surprising. As most of you all know winter is not my favorite time of year so I usually find myself trying to find a quick vacation to warmer, albeit often only slightly warmer climates. I took the opportunity a few years ago to visit my old friend and see what a small southern town had to offer.
I didn’t want to make assumptions about the newest city I was adding to my “places I have been list” but from what I have heard about the “south” it is known for its uncanny ability to bring out the color in a conversation better then a Van Gough fan club in the Amsterdam museum. I did however ensure that my escapades would not have a chance of falling victim to an unruly mob of yokels by surrounding myself with a predominately white crew. The hope was to offset my dark complection; to improve the ratio so to speak. It is common practice for minorities in small southern towns to check, kind of like double checking whether or not one has clean underwear, or thier wallet.
I was introduced to my new batch of a weekend wariors composed of friends and friends of friends. The ice was broken rather quickly as it often is with my in your face brand of humor — gloves are for mice in disney land and I come without. As our eager blood cells received the perfect marination of alcohol our voices grew louder and our friendships grew stronger. Well, as strong as anyone would expect them to grow having only known one another for all of two hours — a life time on NBC’s The Bachelor. We were ready to hit the town.
One story after another was closely coupled by one drink after another and we were all extremely hammered in no time. The new group of extended friends had bonded through the iron clad chains of Yager and Redbull and the ‘fat’ had been trimmed by the umpteenth round of shots we had forced upon the group. There now stood — more like wobbled four strong, three guys and one impressivley hard core chick.
We kicked ourselves out of the bar before anyone running the place had the pleasure to do so. The doors swung open and we walked out to a Varisty Blues meets Edward Scissor Hands backdrop. The dark night was lit up by the street lights, all reflcting off of the snow filled sky and the landscape was covered in a light dusting of pure white flakes. Being from DC snow is not all that special to me, but it turns out that snow is exteremly rare in this small town and the excitiment level of my bar buds was quite contegous. We stuck our hands out to feel the snow flakes melt on our fingers and yes there was an ocasion or two where we let them land on our tounges — we were drunk, dont judge me!
So lets do some math: new firends + old friends + new town + drunk + late + a rare snow fall = a bunch not ready to go home and definitely too energized to simply go to bed. But since all the bars were beginning to close up a group meeting was called to order:
“This is awesome!” said the chick
“I know, I know — ww..what — what do we do now?”, brian said in a drunken studder
“Let’s go to a strip club!” shouted the only chick in the bunch. The guys all looked at eachother with a suprised grin and without any uncertainty watsoever we were all in.
As we removed ourselves from our 3rd and 10 huddle we began to walk in no specific direction. It would seem that the desicion to go to a strip club was all the direction we needed, knowing the actualy direction was less then important.
Part II: Winter war land
The sound of snow smacking into Brians bare face was unmistakable. Although it all happened in a matter of seconds I could still hear the droppings of the imapcted snow ball hitting the slushy pavement….there had must have been some ice in that one!
I turned around and saw Brian, his eyes as wide open as his mouth was as he wiped off his face.
“What the f##k!” he said, in a surprisingly more upeat manner than you are probably imagining it.
He was half laughing as he looked at his snow covered hands and checked his chest as if to see if there was any damaging shrapnel he should tend to. After finishing his assessment he perked up and looked into the distance to see if he could make out the origin of the Bogey.
We all looked up in the direction Brian was now pointing and saw three kids, about 15-30yd away, watching us. They must have been as surprised as we were by their accuracy at such a distance, or in retrospect the lack there of. Once they realized that Brian was okay and that they just threw an ice ball into a complete strangers face twice their size instinct kicked in and they began to run; thusly we began our pursuit.
As we ran down the side walk in a dimly lit part of the local park we scraped the tops of bushes for ammo. We balled them up without slowing down and started barading the kiddie culprits with what we could make. Some were of course prematurely launched and flew off into the distance as dust, but there was one or two that were able to give us some satisfaction towards our revenge. These kids picked the wrong two guys off the street, our experience with snow ball architecture at the DC Univ. of hard Knox was light years ahead of what these country bumpkins were aware of. Their backs began to become more and more aware of that fact as the chase continued.
They rounded the corner and so did we, they cut through the woods and we were right behind them. In the midst of the chase of predator and prey the feeling of revenge became less so, and playfulness was now the main theme; there was plenty of laughing on both sides of the coin. It wasn’t long before we found ourselves on the main strip, the center of this fair town. I think they had thought that the public streets would deter us from our hunt. Once again these young lads did not know who they started up with and we could care less what the public thought of us, plus we were still too drunk to really notice.
They took shelter behind a low wall and we squatted behind some bushes. The snow had now filled the ground with plenty of white gold and the exchange continued. Man was it fun! One would have assumed this part of our lives was past us, but here we were in snow ball fight in our 20’s! Our experience in the field soon paid off. Without any need for discussion a line formed in our group: the Snow ball builder, then the snow ball stacker, and of course the gunners.
Have you ever heard about the saying that goes to the effect of, all enemies become friends when there is a greater common enemy? It is amazingly true and we saw such an undertaking take place right before our eyes. A truck made the corner and without pause both camps stopped the attacking of one another and began firing at the truck…..It was kinda stupid and f’ed up I know, but at the time it was just such an obvious thing to do, and at that time it just didn’t feel all that wrong. It was snowing in Athens for got sake, live a little!!!
The truck didn’t stop but you could see the man driving within flinch at first and then simply smile and shake his head….Really? Did we just get away with that? This rotation of enemy and enemies enemy would take place over and over. Batteling one an other until some poor sap made the bad decision to turn into OUR street followed by the re focused attention to the moving vehicle at hand, when the moving target was out of range we went back to our war.
I took a step back for a moment and observed our surroundings. What had started out as a simple snowball to ones face has now become something far greater. This battle was no longer us vs them, or even just us vs car. People on the street, I mean regular passer byes, were constructing their own little firing squad. We were getting hit from all sides and snowballs were flying over head on all corners of the street and in all directions. It was unbelievable!
Now, if that was all that happened that night I would have walked away giddy and amazed. I would have still remembered that night in Athens as an amazing night of unexpected turns, but the night was not over just yet. Now remember I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP! This is all true first hand account, no exaggeration at all. By this point in the night this block was completely covered in hostilities. Snow balls from parents at kids, old at young, store owners and patrons were in some way or another involved in this battle. People started to get out of their cars, parking in no particular spot, just to get out and throw a snow ball or two of their own.
No snow ball was thrown with anger, well some started as anger but the beauty of what was happening was that it all quickly turned into good wholesome fun. Not only were people on the streets now participating but some windows were opening up above the stores and people in their apartments began to take pictures. Flashes were going off from above like explosions in the sky. Once spectating the carnage wasn’t enough for these ad hoc journalists they began to get involved in any way they could. Why should they miss out on all the fun. Some would come down into the streets, but others to lazy to put clothes on, grabbed ice or cups of water and splashed them down on people; a travesty in the snow ball throwers community. We would all ban together at those moments and pummel the widow that water was spilled from with what we could. There ARE rules of engagement after all in every war.
It was unreal – chaos was in the street that night. I’m not sure if this all transpired in minutes or hours but it all just kept coming, escalation upon escalation. More and more people would get involved. Where were they all coming from? As it turns out, not to be any less expected of the night with our luck, there was a police station only 1 block down the road from the anarchy. And being what looked licked a city riot from any onlookers perspective the law began to react. I noticed that over time one police officer would peek out the door and go back inside, then two would peek out and then three — then nothing for a few minutes. I told Brian about what I was observing and that we should probably start making our exit before things became less fun and more fines. No one was really paying attention though, my request went un-heard.
What wasn’t so easily ignored was that moments later the whole police force, about 10-15 officers in full riot gear, started to march out of the station. Some of us noticed and stopped like dear in head lights, followed by more and more of us. And then there was silence, only a straggling snow ball was now flying through the air. The streets were silent and what was only moments ago utter chaos was now eerily silent. The officers marched out and formed a line with their shields out in front, much like a roman army, making two rows.
Then what seemed to be the lead officer spoke into the mega phone,
Brian and I looked at each other in disbelief…
Snow balls began to come at us like rockets from behind the row of the newly formed row of shields.
“Are you serious!?!”, we said almost at the same time to one another.
We began to laugh, and as most of the anxious public began to do we started throwing snow balls at the police officers….yes who were in full riot gear!
It was the most unbelievable scene I have ever witnessed around snow, without a doubt. The three of us as drunk and in public as you can be, where disturbing the hell out of the peace, assaulting one another including police officers in the middle of the night, and they were throwing them right on back. Thinking that our luck must soon run out and unable to judge if we were in a good enough state to be spoken to by officers once this exchange had died down we decided to get up and began to jog away.
We looked back on the well lit city as we ran, the noises of laughter and screaming echos soon died down and the commotion was just a faint murmur. The was now in the distance and dulled, drowned out by the darkness of the night. We had created and left behind one of the greatest winder wonderlands in Athens history……..it was time to hit up our original plan and were off to the strip club. We let the natives enjoy our masterpiece.
I had left my mark on Georgia — I was satisfied.