Let me start by saying that I have no idea how old I was when this happened. If I had to guess, I would say somewhere in the neighborhood of 6th or 7th grade.
This story captivated my life - I would tell it once or twice an evening, particularly if we had guests at the dinner table (which was frequent).
The Hole in the Wall Story
My dad designed the blueprint for our basement. We have a half underground basement, with a modular design dropped on top of it for the upper floor. As such, dad had the opportunity to design a dark-room (for developing film) in the basement. This is not the story of the dark-room. This is the story of another room - a main room in the basement, which dad had measured to fit a ping-pong table. He had left enough space for ample movement to front and back, which is necessary because my dad plays ping-pong in a frantic, surging state. He constantly moves forwards and backwards with a sort of lumbering, groaning motion; when I was younger this is what I pictured when giants were being toppled in fairy tales. Now that I am older, I know this is not how everyone plays ping-pong; most people seem to approach it with the casualness of horse-shoes or lawn darts - they may care about winning, but not enough to break a sweat. My dad, on the other hand, runs in a circle which seems to operate under the assumption that ping-pong is what defines the rulers of our age, and as such he dedicated his whole body to its pursuit.
So, to work my way back to the story, I sum up by saying it is not at all a surprise to me that my dad designed a room to fit a ping-pong table perfectly. It is also not a surprise to me that he altered the room and added a closet, because it would save money (I'm not sure how) to put a closet in that room. Here is the source of friction in this story: The closet infringed on the pre-measured ping-pong table space. Wisely, he did not add a solid door to the closet, but instead had a folding partition which separated it from the rest of the room. (The closet door faced the ping-pong table). This was the "guest" side of the ping-pong table. The table was pushed so that there was slightly less room on that side, so occasionally a vibrant guest would go crashing through the partition in an effort to return a particularly strong serve.
The other side of the ping-pong table, my dad's side, had dry-wall behind it. This side had plenty of room, but because ping-pong is such a strenuous sport my dad would occasionally back into the wall. Gradually, over a period of months, twin ovals began to appear approximately waist high in the dry wall. My mom, sister, and I analyzed it, and decided that my dad's butt had broken through the dry wall as he was playing ping pong. According to my mom, my dad came home and noticed the holes, and blamed Debbie and I for messing around in the basement. My mom then modeled how a human buttocks fit perfectly into the hole (there are pictures of this). My dad, a little sheepish, then enlisted an Irishman named Frank to fix the dry wall.
Which he promptly pummeled into submission with his butt during some celebratory ping-pong.
So then Frank the Irishman put wood paneling from the floor to approximately halfway up the wall. This stopped Dad's unrelenting ping-pong butt dead in its tracks - and in fact gave him some added resilience, as he could freely bounce off the newly wood-panelled wall.
Why did this story captivate me?
-It took my giant-size dad, and cut him down to human-size.
-It became my story. I was the one who always told it, and it never failed to get laughs. (This is my memory anyway. I'm pretty sure there were instances where I told the story at inappropriate times, and I was the only one laughing. Though I was probably laughing like the hyenas in "The Lion King" and couldn't hear the deadened silence of the room.)
-And because it taught me a valuable lesson.
There are very few things in this world that can stop you -
as long as you lead with your butt.