I called it a dent. By the sound of my grandparents howls, the noise was more like the government ripped the Medicaid from their wallets. Either way, that wallop in the side of my grandparents station wagon couldn't be covered up with mud, towels or delays. Let me explain.
A little past 12 years old, I'd been invited to summer trek across country with my grandparents following one of the myriad military moves we'd made during my childhood. My parents had forged ahead to the SoCal and I would follow behind with said elders and a pop-up trailer in tow.
Most of the journey from Little Rhody to Emerald Hills, California rolled along in a car cabin filled with the chain smoke of several cartons of Marlboro 100s, songs about driving across country and argument language that would have had the rowdiest members of the Navy's 6th Fleet blushing.
One of our stops? Cooperstown, New York. The Baseball Hall of Fame, where we spent the day. I was allowed one souvenir. I chose the small, wooden replica Louisville Slugger. Then, off we went.
Four days later, we pulled up to the two-story 1960s styled home my parents rented. With the wagon parked on the curb, my grandparents retreated inside while I stretched my legs in the yard. I took the little slugger along as something to do while running around on the grass.
As I pretended to be Greg Luzinski and Mike Schmidt (big Phillies fan at a young age), I took swings with my slugger sending 500-foot home runs over the Veterans' Stadium walls.
One one particular shot, I wound up and really let go. And by that, I mean I let go. OF. THE. BAT.
It spun like a helicopter about 60 feet and them smashed into the right rear door of my grandparents' wagon. From the size of the dent, you would have sworn I'd tossed a Steve Carlton curve ball into the thing. Either way, I panicked like an impala that just felt a cheetah's tongue lick its neck.
My first solution? Grab a ball of wet California mud and smash it onto the dented spot. My 12-year-old genius intellect figured if it stuck there for along enough, they wouldn't see it until they got back to Rhode Island. Unfortunately, the mud clung to the door for about three seconds and a new solution came into play.
The second solution? Drape a towel out of the window and onto the door. I don't remember the exact plausible explanation for this, however, at age 12, it made PERFECT SENSE AT THE TIME. However, there were no towels to be found within reason. So, I settled on my last tactic: stalling.
See, the inevitable was coming. I would be having my butt spanked. There was no getting out of that. However, I figured if I could butter up the more senior members of the fam, maybe I'd buy less strokes with the belt.
Not to be. As soon as I launched into my "Who wants to hear me do Abbott and Costello's 'Who's on First?' gag," my grandfather managed to get outside and see the dent.
I don't know if there' is a phenomenon where 'yell volume' transfers from one relative to the next, but it happened here. My grandfather, angry, said something vulgar and loud. That transferred exponentially to my grandmother, then my mother and then ultimately to my waiting stepfather who had the belt.
Before the butt whipping, I tried to explain that it could be easily repaired and that my $5 allowance that I got sometimes would fix the thing in no time (with 'no time' being about 76 weeks). After the butt whipping ... well, you know.
I never found that little slugger again. It's probably for the best.
Jason Tudor is a writer and illustrator originally from San Diego with a fondness for baseball and other things. You can catch him at his website, http://jasontudor.com