Get Adobe Flash player

When One Door Slams … Lesson Learned?

March 3rd, 2019 · Tags:Satire

I was strolling along, down the sidewalk between the new Neiman Marcus in Fort Worth and Starbucks … near the multi-colored, spinning shadow of the stained-glass windmill, when I saw a familiar face.

But my friend wasn’t casually strolling. She looked a bit frantic, clutching her young daughter in her arms — close to her body — with her two boys jogging a little bit to keep up.

As I opened the door for her at the coffee shop, she explained that the little girl had just experienced one of the many rites of passage of childhood … she had accidentally put her hand in the wrong place and gotten her fingers mashed when the car door closed.


We have all done it … Such a teachable moment … and most of us are smart enough to have filed that lesson away, with no need to review or revisit.

This time, I can’t believe how overwhelmed I was with sadness, and hurting and empathy for the young child. She is such a sweetie … I think my heart broke and just halved and fell down on the floor in two equal pieces. Ha! I think it was harder on me than it was for the mother, as she zipped in the store, and over the shrill, 4-year-old screams, summoned the barista, and soon had a sterile “surgical glove” filled with ice on the wounded fingers — which were sporting a pretty significant little crease.

When it was clear that I was not going to pass out and the family was securely seated at a table, I sat down across the cafe … but things got blurry … and as if in a dream … it was like I could hear a mariachi band in the distance … before I realized it, I was daydreaming about that rite of passage … the old fingers in the car door thing.

(By the way, if none of this firsthand account is making you a little squeamish, I am not doing my job very well in the retelling … I digress …)



A bit misty … my mind was all wrapped around doorslams … but the mariachi music went away … but memories continued …

I think the first time I shut my fingers in the door, it was in our ’64 Chevy stepside pickup truck. (I can still see it …) I was probably four or five years older than the truck. I now consider it a blessing that the doors back then might not have snapped together quite as snugly as today’s computer-engineered parts. But then again … I bet today’s weather stripping probably seals up pretty snug on a little finger.

(Where were you when you first learned that it is better to be “all in” or “all out,” when it comes to closing automobile doors? Do you remember?)

Being a farmboy, and hardheaded too … I am pretty sure I slammed my fingers in the door of an International 1206 farm tractor too. (That was the downside of finally getting a tractor with a cab …)

I can still see the gouge … the little blue vein bruised and popping up inside the pinched flesh … maybe a little blood. One thing is for sure, no door has ever been opened faster than the one that contains your fingers.

I might have also taken a hit from a John Deere 105 combine door too … (Yes … quite the slow learner this one.)

Then there was a reprieve. Years and years flew by without a repeat.

And then … I heard mariachi music again … and daydreamed …

In my old life, we did several family vacations to Port Aransas halfway down, on the Texas Gulf Coast. It’s not the prettiest beach in Texas, but it will do in a pinch (finger-slam pun intended). A friend had a beach house and we were invited there several times … and had some of the best times … tubing in the waves, body surfing, sand castling, eating raw oysters, eluding an invasion of huge jelly fish one year, fishing off the dock … and enjoying a few adult beverages, I am sure.

So … the beach house was nothing special. But it had something wonderful in the garage … an old, rusty, beat up ’60s era muscle-ish car hidden away from the seagulls’ precision bombing. If memory serves, the car was a Dodge Coronet, four-door with worn out vinyl seats, and holes in the body everywhere in the sandy, brownish-yellow rusty design … auto body wounds that were sand and salt induced.

Despite the car’s problems, the transmission worked and the radio worked. The Dodge was perfect for its specific job. Its only purpose in life was to drive a few short miles to the beach, to almost disappear as it blended into the beach scene and to prevent our newer, better cars from getting filled up with sand.

We should have been embarrassed to be seen in this jalopy. But no … not us … we reveled in it’s trashy appearance … and we had one rule … ONLY Mexican radio to accent the Gulf Of Mexico flava … nothing else … and we cranked the radio as loud as the old mustard-colored Dodge could muster.


Sweet Ride

It was FIESTA BABY! Every day … we were cruising up and down the sand in this eyesore, belting out cojunto … or banda … or salsa … or even reggaeton music … just happy to be there … maybe mixing in our best Tex-Mex whistles and bird calls as we cruised along. Blending in … and yet … NOT!

We sort of loved the car and began to take advantage of its novelty in every way we could. Yes, when we finally parked and set up our beach umbrellas and fashioned sand castles and got sunburned … we used the car as the perfect backdrop for this low-budget getaway. That old car was in many photos and 35-mm slides … as a backdrop for my son and his first plastic sand shovel and pale … his first hairdo based largely on the application of scalp sunscreen … stuff like that. It was better than a photoshopped backdrop … any day.

Loving that old car so much, we even stood up on the tail end, pretending to be the most macho surfers on the beach. To illustrate that … I even did some modern photo tricks to meld the Dodge that I found on the Internet with some beach photos. Then I found the real photos … treasure, I say!:)

So when we grew weary of stationary car surfing, one day, we hopped off the old Dodge and back inside the old Dodge, cranked the salsa, and sped away … sand flying.

Then all of the sudden all of the beach magic and poetic imagery of the old Dodge came to a screeching halt. We had loaded up to move to an even more perfect beach scene and all hopped in the car — me last. But something was left behind. We stopped and I hopped out to pick up some chair, or bottle of sunscreen or something … pronto, pronto … and popped back in the front seat. As I got in the rusty old “Tijuana Taxi,” somehow I didn’t get the door closed well. Then, somehow, I re-opened the right door with my left hand and slammed it … while my right hand somehow remained on the lower part of the roof of the car, just above the slamming door.


I looked at the driver and could tell he had seen what I had just done. Not only was he nice enough not to laugh, or call me an idiot … I could tell he was kind of feeling my pain … (Just as I did for the recent Starbucks story.)

“Aye Chihuahua!” It hurt! And we may or may not have turned down the Mexican radio, but we pulled over long enough for me to get some ice from the rusty trunk.

The mariachi music faded … and the old daydream was gone.

So what’s the difference between your first introduction to a door slam at hands length … and a later-in-life reminder?

Well … obviously, for many of us, the childhood door slam is the most intense pain we have felt up to that point. And it is way scary. There is much to scream about. But as an adult — although it smarts — it is the total dumb-arse feeling that hurts the worse. What an idiot!?! Muy loco! But we all laughed … “bar keep, hand me one of them cervezas … or maybe two fingers of tequila.”

Know what I sayin?