True confessions: I kick clods.

No, no, not that kind. I kick those clumps of frozen glop that collect in the wheel wells and under the bumpers of cars.

I do it whenever I can, wherever I can, to whichever cars I can. If a cop ever asked me what in the world I was doing, I'd probably say that my purpose is to free America's wheel wells and bumpers from dangerous obstructions. Doing my part to keep the world safe for winter driving, officer.

But my real purpose is to deliver a swift kick at the season itself.

After all, if they go unjostled, those clods will just hang there and hang there, suggesting that winter will hang on, too, like a pesky orangutan. That's just what we don't need to hear in the first week of February.

So, kick-happy as always, I walked up to a Volkswagen the other morning in an underground parking garage. It carried clods galore.

My right foot flashed.

And the bumper fell off.

Yup, fell off. Came unhinged on the very side where I had just crash-landed my right heel. Landed with a very complicated clatter on the cement.

For those of you keeping score, the clod did indeed come free in the process. And no one heard or saw, meaning that I could have walked away and pretended I didn't cause it.

But I took the honorable course. On bended knee, I refitted the bumper to the stem of steel that protrudes from the body of the VW. All the while, the kicked-free clod sat on the cement, gray as steel wool.

It was staring at me.

"See what happens when you don't leave me alone?" it seemed to say. "See what happens when you go around rendering me and my brothers perchless? You're a blight on society, a menace to clods who fear God and remember their mothers' birthdays."

"Nonsense!" I shouted back mentally. "I'm not the only one! I'll bet Deep Throat kicked hundreds of clods free as he waited in parking garages. I know of half a dozen brave men and women who have gone to kick a clod, only to bruise their toes because the clod turned out to be frozen. You never got snide with them, did you?

"I'm trying to prevent corrosion, you clod! I'm trying to maintain used car resale values in an uncertain economy! I'm trying to restore the symmetry of design that the VW's engineers had in mind!"

But the clod just sat there and stared.

I cannot say I will never kick a clod again. I can say that, in the future, I'll pick more communicative ones. The silent treatment some of these clods give you is just too tough to take.