Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Snowballs and Tuxedos

I was reminded of a time in high school when we were having a party at a friend's house in Mount Vernon, an upscale urban neighborhood in Baltimore, after a good snow. Of course, we all ended up outside having a large snowball fight when several couples were leaving the Engineers' Club, a formal establishment in the basement of a building next door.

An errant snowball hit one of the adults and there was that uneasy moment where everyone -- kids and adults -- stood frozen. The gentleman who got pegged turned around and looked at us, then bent down, scooped up snow and fired back. That, according to international snow rules, makes him a legitimate target and, of course, he received a significant volley in return. A rush of people came out of the club and suddenly we had doubled the size of the battle with men in tuxedos and women in formal gowns as part of the action.

While it is always fun to hit someone with a snowball, there was something unbelievably satisfying about hitting someone in a tuxedo with a snowball. And that extra satisfaction is today's question. What makes it so much more fulfilling?

Is it a Moliere-like belief that those in power are fools and do not deserve it and that you are symbolically knocking them down to the level where they really are?

Is it a Marxist class-based impulse where you are attacking the bourgeois, living out the revolution for the workers?

Is it a Nietzschean moment where you are asserting yourself on the universe through triumphant self-affirmation by striking targets off-limits to normal high-schoolers?

Is it a Freudian moment where the tuxedoed gentlemen represent your father and hitting him with a snowball is a momentary release of unfulfilled oedipal desires?

Is it more Adlerian, where hitting someone who has the trappings of a station you will likely never reach allows you to deal with your inherent human insecurities?

Or could it be Townshendian in nature, where you are living out a symbolic death wish in your "hope to die before I get old" while striking one for my g-g-g-generation?