Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Golf Ball Car Stop

Our house is pretty good-sized, at two stories and over three thousand square feet. We need that much space to raise our three boys. Actually, three thousand square feet is the bare minimum space in which my wife and I are willing to attempt to contain our three little tornados of joy. Three thousand square feet per kid would be a lot better, but no one wants to clean that much house. We have fantasized about building a barn in the backyard to keep them in, but it turns out the county frowns upon that sort of thing, not only from a zoning perspective, but also from a child welfare point of view. Go figure.

Even if we were allowed to build a barn, we wouldn’t have the room to do it. Our three thousand-plus square foot house is built on a lot that is roughly two hundred square feet. In order to accommodate the house and still have a backyard at least large enough to turn around in, the builder conveniently made the “three-car” garage just big enough to comfortably fit one mid-sized sedan, if you angle it in. So, naturally, we park the giant SUV in the garage.

After I sanded the first few layers of paint from the top of the garage door wood trim, and deflated the tires a little, we were able to squeeze the Ford Expedition into the garage. When the front bumper was within thirteen inches of the back wall of the garage, the garage door was able to close, missing the rear bumper by about three inches on its way down. It was clear that we would need some sort of indicator for my wife to be able to know when she was far enough in, but not too far in. To make things easy, I got out my big cordless drill and drilled a hole through my finger. After I stopped the bleeding with toilet paper and electrical tape, I managed to also drill a hole through a golf ball, which was actually my original goal. I hung it on a string from the ceiling, so it would contact the windshield directly in front of the driver’s face. Drive in until the golf ball touches the glass, and you’re there. What could be simpler?

Well, if you are my wife, I guess a lot of things might be simpler, because the golf ball was obviously not a good solution. I knew right away that we might be in trouble with the concept when my mother-in-law saw me installing the golf ball and asked, “What the hell did you do to your finger?” Then she added, “Aren’t you worried that the golf ball will crack the windshield?”

Hmm… Well, when the ball touches the windshield, the front bumper of the three-ton SUV is about a foot from the living room wall, so if she’s coming into the garage fast enough to crack the windshield with the stationary hanging golf ball, I think we’re going to have bigger problems than minor glass repair…

“Shouldn’t be a problem.”

It turns out that I really didn’t have to worry about that problem at all, because unbeknownst to me at the time, my wife was never planning on actually hitting the golf ball at all. She likes to drive up close to it, but not actually touch the windshield to it.

When I questioned this method she said, “Well, I get close enough to it.”

“Well, maybe, but when the ball is touching the windshield, the rear bumper is only three inches from the door, so if you’re more than three inches from it, the door is going to come down on the car.”

“Well, I get closer than that.”

“How do you know?”

“I just do.”

Do you know how you could know for sure? HIT THE BALL!!

“I’m just worried that if you don’t hit the ball, you might be too far away.”

“Oh, relax. The door has never hit the car.”

That may very well be the case, but I have gone out into the garage and seen the ball inches away from the windshield, and gone to the back of the car to see the door so close to the back bumper that you couldn’t have slipped a playing card between them. How does she do that? Why does she do that?

Well, I still have no idea, but my wife and I switched cars a while back, and now I am finally in charge of parking the Expedition correctly in the walk-in closet cleverly disguised as our garage. It was going great for a while. I would drive in, snuggle the windshield right up to the ball, and get out of the car, happy in the knowledge that the door would come down ridiculously close to the rear bumper, but at least not on it.

Until yesterday. Yesterday something went horribly wrong. Yesterday the Expedition was parked safely in the shoe box garage. The golf ball was resting exactly where it should have been; on the windshield, directly in front of my face. I loaded up the boys, hopped into the driver’s seat, smiled at the golf ball, and turned the key in the ignition. Now, nothing bad happened with the garage door or the rear bumper, but it turns out that at some point between parking the car and getting back in to leave again, one or more of the boys had been sitting in the driver’s seat, playing with the switches and knobs.

As soon as the car sprang to life, all sorts of new things were happening. The radio was blaring a Spanish channel, we were signaling for a left turn, the high beams were on, and much to my dismay, the windshield wipers came sweeping across the glass. The main wiper blade teed off on the golf ball like a three iron, but instead of heading for the green, the string from the ceiling sent the ball in a wide circular trajectory, coming right back around to bounce off the windshield high on the passenger side. It was spinning its way back for a second ricochet off the glass as the wiper blades were coming back down to their home position. I frantically grabbed for the wiper controls on the turn signal lever, but it was down lower than it should have been because we were also turning left in this imaginary midnight Tijuana rainstorm. I fumbled for the controls as I watched the string get caught by the passenger-side wiper blade, and as I accidentally wrenched the wiper speed control knob all the way in the wrong direction, I saw my golf ball get unceremoniously torn off its ceiling mount, string and all, by my wiper blades which were now slamming back and forth across the glass on the highest setting. The boys were hooting and hollering in the back seat as I sat quietly and watched my golf ball get whipped back and forth across the windshield at 800 MPH.


Maybe my wife had a point. Is it possible that she too was once subjected to the old Mexican Hurricane gag? Did she hold out on me about her reasons for never quite reaching the golf ball?


Probably not. But I can tell you this: When I put the new golf ball up, it was three inches closer to the living room wall, and now I just drive up close to it.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2014 Marc Schmatjen

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  1. Haha, Have done the exact same thing, but it was me that bumped the wiper switch... I just pull up *close* to it now too! Live and learn :)

  2. We need an inflatable ball, so we can drive up to it when it's large, and then it deflates to come off the windshield once we're parked. Someone get on that!