CASTINE, MAINE — Another snowfall had blanketed the school playground - the raw material for sledding, forts, and snow angels. And snowball season was in full swing! So the commissioner of snowballs called a press conference.
"Good morning. I'll read a brief statement and then answer questions," said the commish. "It's time to clarify the snowball rule, which reads as follows: 'No throwing snowballs at Adams School.' Thank you. Now for questions."
The first reporter had his hands in the air before the commish had even begun speaking. "Sir, does this mean that you also can't throw snowballs on the town common?"
"Or how about on the playground after school?" chimed in another correspondent.
"Let me revise my statement," said the commish. "Snowballs are not allowed during Adams School time, nor at any time on Adams School property. That should take care of just about any foreseeable situation."
Nonetheless, a sports reporter had her hand in the air. "Does that mean no snowballs during basketball practice? And is the common owned by the town or the school?"
The commish thought for a second, then replied tersely, "Any Adams School-sponsored activity is considered school time; no, the school does not own the common."
"Can I throw snowballs with my brother?" asked the Castine AP stringer.
"The 'time' and 'location' clauses apply to that one," said the commish.
"Commissioner, how about when the older kids go downtown for lunch," probed the legal affairs correspondent for the Bagaduce Bar Picayune. "Can they toss a little snow?"
"Let me tell you a true story," said the commish, leaning over the official league seal. "Last year we had a little snowball incident en route to the variety store. First ball airborne, I had instant messages from neighbors faster than you can say 'Slush Puppy,' informing me that a few of our 'franchise players' were wreaking havoc. Suffice it to say, you could be on the town dock throwing snowballs at sea gulls, and someone would speed dial me to say so. Felony Snow Endangerment. You're toast."
Questioning persisted. "Let's say you and a friend agree that it's OK to throw snow at each other?" probed the court reporter for Entertainment Tonight.
"Automatic third felony strike," said the commish. "Burnt toast."
"What if we're wearing snowpants and jackets?" asked the style editor for Adams Wear Daily.
"Irrelevant," said the commish. "Now you're French toast."
"Could you be more specific about the consequences of throwing snowballs?" asked the crime reporter for The Castine Patriot.
The commish rattled off the sanctions: "Seven game suspension; hefty fine; media shame; mandatory ineligibility for Winter Four Square Hall of Fame."
"Commissioner, what's the definition of 'snowball' "?
"Can't define it ... but I know one when I see one."
A timid voice chimed in from the rear of the press corps. "Can I throw snowballs at my house?" said the cub reporter.
"Sure, kid," said the commish, "But it depends on your definition of 'at.' Ask your parents. Have a ball. We all done here?"
"One more, sir: What do you think of the dodge ball salary cap?"
• Todd R. Nelson is principal of the Adams School in Castine. This piece first appeared in the Bangor Daily News on Dec. 24.