This is how they getcha

Weird dream alert: The setting, a winter-wonderland version of Apple Valley, specifically a fancier, two-storied cabin version of One of Lifes Perks. The owner is played by Sara Olson’s mom (except not her mom in the dream), a sweet woman who runs her business seemingly just to provide a nice home away from home to all of the neighborhood teenagers with a reason to get away from their own. I visit one morning – it’s just around sunrise and there are dozens of youths hanging around, throwing snowballs, sitting with their legs dangling off a lavish balcony, avoiding whatever it is they have to avoid in their lives. The tone is somber with splashes of the joy provided by this wonderful place.

I know a few people here – old high school friends who also seem to need a respite from their lives (all of us still teenagers or early twenty-somethings). I came here with one of them instead of eating the instant oatmeal I just bought from the store, but I am an outsider. Everyone’s friendly and welcoming, but it’s apparent that I don’t know the ropes and that I am just a visitor with no real reason to need this place like they do.

I toss my first amiable snowball at someone and completely miss my target; instead I hit a nail in the wall and all of the decorative lights around the entire business slip to the ground like so much snow. Everyone looks at me, ready to pounce, but the motherly owner comes out and comforts me instead. “We needed to redecorate anyway.”

I feel terrible and go inside to lend a hand, but am quickly shooed away, so I make my way back to the patio below the balcony. The dozens of teenagers who just a second ago were ready to tear me apart now appear as if nothing happened, and they continue to goof around. The balcony folks exchange snowball shots with the patio folks, each having to hurl their ammo 20 feet or more. I quietly stand back from the action, but eventually they start cajoling me and the nightmare scenario from minutes before has already become a source of good-natured teasing.

One of the balcony jokesters takes a big, icy chunk of snow and kicks it our way, and somehow I manage to catch it! What luck! What joy! What a chance to show off and be accepted by this strange bunch of tender-hearted hooligans!

I take two steps back and drop-kick the hunk straight towards the balcony. During the slow motion trajectory of the snowball from hell, it becomes obvious that the arc is all wrong. All of the balcony smiles start turning into shouts a split second before the icy missile makes contact with the balcony frame, and then: pandemonium.

It is a scene from a Ben Stiller movie where everything that can go wrong does go wrong. It starts with the decorative coconuts on the end of every floorboard dropping comically onto whatever or whoever stood below them.

Then the handrails bordering the balcony slowly sway outward, tip over and entirely break off from the rest of the frame.

At this point the floorboards themselves snap in a downward arc toward the building like an Indiana Jones booby trap, dropping the balcony people onto the thick blanket of snow below on patio.

The impact of the floorboards against the building makes all of the windows shatter outward (sucks to physics), raining glass upon the already weather-beaten teens.

More creaks and crashes echo through the otherwise silent, snow-muffled morning.

And there I stand, my face frozen at the exact moment a satisfied smile becomes a mortified grimace. Four dozen eyes jerk to me. Four dozen hands turn to fists. And out comes the owner, quietly and calmly appraising the devastation. She seems to inventory the damage, turning slowly from one end of the building to the other and takes it all in. After a few moments of consideration, her mouth spreads into a kind grin and she simply says “I’ll make eggs.”

I head inside to help again, handing the teens plates as they file in like farmhands preparing for a hard day’s work. Those who make eye-contact seem to look directly into my brain to see exactly is was wrong with me. Most of them just steam past, fogging up the silverware.

When they all finish eating and swarm outside to begin the repairs, I see that they were able to get their cruel revenge while I busied myself making amends. The box of instant oatmeal I had brought with me was still sitting in my bag on the front counter, but it had been tampered with. Every packet of oatmeal inside had been emptied and filled with cold eggs.