By Greg Lamothe
There's no other love like the love for a brother. There's no other love like the love from a brother.
As a young boy of eight it was a rare and coveted opportunity to be able to hang out with my older brother, Chris, and not feel like he would prefer that I be somewhere else. I can't say I blamed him. Our seven-year age difference placed me more than a little out of his peer group.
On one sunny winter day I was enjoying one of those rare experiences. Michael, one of my brother's friends, was struggling alongside my brother and me to roll an enormous snowball we'd been working on for some time. It was already twice my height and required special knowledge of snowball formation to be moved. We had, by trial and error, unlocked a secret to making impossibly large snowballs, and even with that knowledge we were struggling to move this monster.
The secret? Momentum. You dig out the bottom of the snowball on the side you want it to roll. When the snowball is properly sloped for rolling you station one guy on the uphill side, and one guy on the side you want it to roll, and you begin to rock it, back and forth; this is how the process gets its power. You keep doing this until it is really rocking, and then on the count of three everybody pushes together at exactly the right moment to teeter it over the breaking point for one full rotation. Then you have to do it again.
We were now fully engaged in rocking the snowball, and I was on the side to which it would roll. For a moment it stood still, looking like it might not go. Just one more inch and it would, but despite Mike and Chris's combined exertions, the snowball just teetered on edge.
I had moved to the other side to watch them push and could see desperation growing in their expressions. In a moment of sudden inspiration, I rose to my feet and raced towards the thing screaming at the top of my lungs like some furious war cry. Slamming into it at full speed, I hoped to provide the additional force it seemed to need to get moving. Pain shot through my shoulder from the impact, but the snowball did not budge. Caught up in the moment I shrugged off the pain and, wedging myself under the snowball I used my back to shove against it. Slowly it began to move, and as gravity took over we heard the gratifying sound of snow crunching underneath our creation as it rolled.
Now we had managed to achieve our original goal of positioning the snowball on the edge of a hillside where kids regularly went sledding. We thought we might roll it down the hill, but with the trouble we'd had just getting it to this point we were ready to take a break.
"That was hard, man!" exclaimed Mike, pulling an iPod out of his inside jacket pocket. He then lay down about halfway down the hill, with Chris sitting beside him.
I looked up at our work, which loomed high from where I was, just down the hill a bit.
I began to get an idea.
Mike was lying down with his eyes closed listening to music, and Chris was absentmindedly making snowballs and tossing them at a tree. They both sat in the path the snowball would take, if somehow it were to be pushed....
I began digging out the bottom of the snowball to get the leverage for the second stage of the operation. Without looking over his shoulder, my brother called out, "Greg, what are you doing to it?"
"I'm just... smoothing it." I answered innocently, with the first words that came to mind.
I continued to dig until I heard a crunch on the smaller snowball I'd used as a brace. Somehow, my brother and Mike had not turned around once to investigate, and stage two of the operation was ready to launch.
By now you have figured out what I was planning. The memory of the giant rolling ball inIndiana Jones had fired my imagination, and I was committed to seeing those guys' faces when they saw this thing thundering towards them. Lying on my back, I kicked the bracing snowball out from under the dug out side, then raced to the other to push with all my might.
The snowball began to roll down the hill. Chris looked up and saw it coming towards him, and when I saw the look on his face I finally began to consider the consequences of what I was doing. Seeing the snowball gaining speed had me wondering at the possible injuries that might occur when it ran over them. Then I remembered all the times I had worn that same look as Chris ran at me. We would see how he felt now that something more than three times his size was chasing him!
For some reason, my brother ran straight. He could have jumped to the side and out of the path of the giant hurtling towards him, but in his terror he tried to outrun the thing. He leaped over Mike who was still on his back listening to music, completely unaware of what was about to occur. Then, the runaway snowball rolled right over Mike's upper body and head.
A split second passed where I thought he might be seriously hurt, or even dead. However, he shot up from the spot where he had been compressed into the snow.
"Whoa!" he shouted, with a look of astonishment.
In the seconds it took for this to happen, Chris looked even more horrified. Why didn't he jump to the side? It was starting to not be so funny when he looked like he might cry.
The snowball caught Chris by the heel. He went down face first in the snow, his scream quickly muffled as it rolled right over him, thundering on to crash into the chain link fence at the bottom of the hill, causing the fence to bow under the weight and speed.
In the silence that followed I looked on in horror as Chris lay face down in the snow, not moving for a second. His body had been compressed into the snow — flattened like in the cartoons I watched. Maybe he was dead. But no — he was moving! Eventually he managed to push himself to his hands and knees.
He looked up at me then, perhaps noticing how scared I was of his reaction.
A grin suddenly split his face in two and he said, "You little jerk!"
I grinned back as I realized I would live to enjoy my prank.
All three of us tried to tell the tale from each of our perspectives all at the same time. "I was listening to a song when everything went dark!" exclaimed Mike.
"I knew he was up to something," said Chris.
"You should have seen your face, Mike," I said.
On the way home Mike asked Chris if he wanted to come over.
Chris looked at me and said to Mike, "Why don't you come over to my place and the three of us can hang out and play video games or something?"
"Sure!" answered Mike.
I happily plodded home through the snow between my brother and Mike. I knew this day would always have a special place in my memories.