It can be wicked funny when a snowball flies. Someone might dodge it, giving a triumphant look as it disintegrates on the shoulder or back instead of the face, and then look surprised as the broken scrids unexpectedly start to melt from the collar down inside the coat. Sometimes that one will jump up and down and reach wildly trying to get the icy bits out. I think it is funnier when this happens to someone else.

Similarly, Bill Watterson created a humorous series of snowball fights and snowman sculptures to demonstrate Calvin’s evil genius in his Calvin and Hobbes comic strip. Growing up in Maine, generations of my family had many months a year to appreciate that the temperature looks much warmer on the Fahrenheit side of the thermometer, which is probably why I like Texas winters.

On a rare chilly morning my husband and I started toward campus and there was frost on the windshield. The feathery threads of ice melted away almost as soon as we started the car, but I still commented that the temperature must be down to 32*F (degrees fahrenheit) for the dew to freeze, and my husband stated that water froze at a different temperature.

Granted, it had been awhile since either of us had seen any cold weather, so neither of us was sure whether he was right or I.

We decided to call our snowbound relatives to verify which of us had guessed the correct freezing temperature of water. No one was home on the first few tries. He said, “It doesn’t really matter. We can look it up later.” Nonetheless, I kept dialing as he drove to town. I thought any of our northern relatives would surely know, and we would quickly have an answer. Perhaps they were all out shoveling their walkways, plowing their drives, or putting salt on their icy steps, because we had to leave voicemails at each number. On the taped messages, we both told them our guesses and once we got to school, we forgot about our little contest.

After class and work, I turned on my cell phone, and several voicemails buzzed through. When we played them back none of his relatives had answered, but my father, my aunt, and my other relatives all made elaborate efforts to emphasize that the freezing temperature of water was indeed 32*F, as if I had won the jackpot from a million dollar game show question and they were the lifeline experts. After each message proclaiming my victory, I hit replay.

My husband stared at me with ice blue eyes, not finding the humor in my repetitiveness, though I found it doubly funny.

The Maine Humor Store, Tim Sample –

The Wicked Good Band and Maine Exiles Page –

Calvin and Hobbes (email subscription available) –

A collection of Calvin’s snowmen sculptures –


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