Dear snowball thrower

Consider this a warning.

If you choose to throw a snowball at my car, you need to know that I will retaliate with every fiber of my being and that all the so-called pain you’ve experience in your short measly little life thus far will be like a widdle hug from a widdle puppy in comparison.

To be clear: I am a big, strong man with 4.5 speed and a steel grip that I did not get from playing video games or sitting on YourSpace or surfing the Internet for pictures of Britney Lohan.

I will catch you.

And when I do?

When I track you down, across snow-covered lawns and streets and creeks and lakes and all your secret hiding places that I long ago sussed out?

When I horse-collar you by your skater-boy parka hood and bring you to your whimpering-for-forgiveness knees?

Put it this way: Tell your parents I can’t be held accountable for my actions, and that I have a good lawyer, and tell your running buddies they would do well to remember the immortal words of Mr. T.:

"Pity the fool."

Look, I was your age once. I know how you think. I hid behind the same bushes and hedges and cars and houses.

I’m way ahead of you, and it will hurt, and I’m not alone.

I’m a dad, and this town is full of dads, psycho dads, marauding together in cars, looking for punks like you.

There’s Crazy Pete who, during our late-night runs, talks of corralling all the snowball throwers and dumping them in a pit with a Bengal Tiger and leaving them there until spring comes. Tattoo Mike usually talks him down, but he carries a pitchfork and bow-and-arrow and his hairdresser wife Wendy’s sharpest scissors, and he’s just dying to use them.

Your only hope is Painter Mike. He’s the peaceful one, the artist, the father of three, the relative voice of reason. He always says he’s only along for the ride and getting ideas for his canvases, but he often brings a flask of adult beverages and is the first to trot out the military quotes about torture and killing the enemy.

But the truth is, I’m the one you need to worry about most.

This is how it will go.

You’ll be walking home from school or the park. You’ll be talking about girls and school, but girls and school get boring, so at some point you will reach down and discover that the snow is perfect snowball snow: wet.

You will throw a couple balls at trees and stop signs and each other, but trees and stop signs and each other get boring, so you will reach down and pick up a pile of snow and pack it big and perfect and round.

A boulder in its catapult.

A cannon ball in its hull.

A grenade in its launcher.

Then along will come me, serene old me, in my car, and the temptation will be too great. You will nudge your buddies, who will also arm themselves, and on the count of three you will pelt — such as it is, with your withering webcam-addict arms — my vehicle.

I will pretend not to notice.

I will pretend not to care.

I will calm my shotgun-riding fang-bearing Black Lab.

I will take the first turn.

I will circle the block.

I will ease down the street, a phantom float in your worst nightmare parade, and come up on you from behind.

I will pull over and park a few feet from your laughing, oblivious, doomed butts.

I will open my door.

I will tap on the horn.

Fair warning.

Head start.

Then?

I will catch you.

If it’s the last thing I do on this God-forsaken planet.

I will catch you.

On your mark.

Get set.

Run, kid, run.

Jim Walsh lives and grew up in East Harriet.