Humor by Greg Schwem

Sometimes I wonder how I reached nearly the half-century mark of life, particularly when my kids seem just inches from serious bodily injury or worse on a daily basis.

How, for example, did I survive, unbuckled, in our car's back seat when my children are strapped in tighter than shuttle astronauts? How did I endure daily mile walks to school when the bus pulls up just feet from my house to transport my kids half that distance?

And how in the world did I manage to make a snowball with my bare hands?

I asked this question while Christmas shopping at Bed Bath & Beyond, a store where few items have anything to do with sleeping or bathing. In between the bins containing holiday butter cookies and LED digital alcohol breath checkers, lay the Arctic Gear Snowball Maker. At first glance, it looked like a pair of scissors, until I noticed the plastic half-spheres where the blades should have been. Then I began thinking it was something the CIA might use to help "interrogate" terrorism suspects now that waterboarding is frowned upon.

Finally, I saw the title and read the description: "Makes perfect snowballs every time." Accompanying the verbiage was a photo of a smiling young boy, about to throw a perfectly round snowball that he had formed by scooping snow into the spheres and squeezing them together.

I nearly threw up into the bin holding scented pine cones.

Apparently I have been living under a giant snow boulder because snowball makers have been around in one form or another since 1989. The original was invented by David Sage, a South Carolina homebuilder now retired and living in Missouri. His creation, dubbed the Sno-Baller, retails for between seven and 10 dollars. Sage has sold more than 1 million units.

"Kids will stay outside all day long if their hands don't get cold," Sage said.

Still not convinced this product could actually do the job I thought it was designed to do - make snowballs while promoting laziness - I searched "Sno-Baller" on YouTube and discovered not one, but two videos demonstrating its capabilities. The first starred a small boy with a British accent so thick his narration was unintelligible. However, he did succeed at making a single snowball, which he then launched at the camera. How cute!

The second featured an older boy scooping snow from the top of a barbecue grill and forming snowballs, which appeared to quickly fall apart once removed from the Sno-Baller. He also reminded the YouTube community that "you have to be living in some kind of city that's very, very snowy."

All you Floridians who purchased Sno-Ballers, I hope you saved your gift receipts.

Sage assured me his invention "will work in any snow you can compress with your hands." Then the conversation got technical.

"The compaction is all around the perimeter. The center is soft. When you make it with your hands, it goes 'thud' when it hits."

That was Sage's way of saying his snowballs are safer than ordinary snowballs. And easier to form. "There are a lot of kids who just can't make a snowball," he said.

Like who? The same kids who need a ride to their friend's house down the block and can't play a non-contact sport without a facemask?

"Kids with withered hands," said Sage, only slightly annoyed with my sarcasm. "And we sell them year round as motor therapy for stroke victims."

OK, so snowball makers serve a purpose. But that doesn't mean I'm buying one. All this technology, I fear, is making my kids soft. I want them to be self-sufficient. That means being one with the snow, just as I was when my parents sent me out to play in the dead of winter. I want them to form snowballs using only their hands and their brains; I want them to dive headfirst into snowdrifts and make angels, never mind that ice-cold, wet snow is creeping into every orifice. Then I want them to come inside, toss their wet gloves on the radiator and sip steaming mugs of hot cocoa.

Gosh, I hope they don't burn their sensitive hands.

Humorist Greg Schwem is a stand-up comedian and author of Text Me If You're Breathing: Observations, Frustrations and Life Lessons From a Low-Tech Dad

Humor & Satire

Humor & Funny Stories - The Perfect Snowball Only Costs 10 Bucks | Humor - Greg Schwem

Article: Copyright © Tribune Media Services