Saul’s Balls

When Saul was new (4 or 5 months) Mrs. Teply’s only way to video her new son’s antics was a digital camera that could record live action.  The memory on this device was constrained which really forces a brief duration.  This is fine since Saul’s adorable rating was so high that even limited exposure to the boy caused grandmas, aunts, grandpas, and hardened criminals to rave about Saul’s remarkable qualities. 

The phrase, “Melt my butter” or the more common, “Aww, he’s sooo (switch to much higher octave) cuuute” was often symptomatic of exposure to baby Saul.
When bathing, Melissa generally allowed Saul to play and kick in an inch or two of water before draining it.  She encouraged him with an over eager, “Splish and splash” or “wiggle, wiggle, wiggle.”  The very young man responded with strong, sudden kicks and a variety of arm movements.  Sometimes a squeal of delight or long baby talk accompanies playtime in the water.  

After a particularly enjoyable bath, Saul began loudly speaking and playing with such zeal that Melissa snatched her camera and began video recording a short segment.  She captured every bit of Saul’s excited jerking and swinging from the top of his blond hued head to his tiny, pink toes.  She was so delighted by the images of her baby boy enjoying his bath that she decided to share the moment with relatives far and wide (i.e. the Internet).

In a somewhat related note, loving mothers don’t generally facilitate in or have anything do with serious problems such as child pornography, unless, of course, you are Mrs. Teply.  Saul’s mother took the “Too Hot for the Nursery” video and a selection of his most recent pictures to the library in order to E-mail them to the family abroad and post. 

Only later, Melissa realized the possible problems with broadcasting her son in the buff.  During a conversation with Grandpa, she asked him not to E-mail the video to Aunt DJ.  At the time, DJ was maintaining a web site devoted to Saul and Mrs. Teply didn’t want the video posted. 

Grandpa Gregory admitted to already sending the video to DJ and joked about “child pornography.”  

Meanwhile on the other side of the genetic code, Aunt Teply and Great-Grandma were exchanging the video over the Internet landscape with ingenious titles like, “Saul’s Balls.”  The discourse finally crashed into my ears when Grandma called me up to inform me my son was “hung.”  (Most historians agree that this is the first time in recorded civilization that a Great-Grandmother refers to her great grandson’s ample equipment.  She was trying to be funny – I found it hard to laugh.)

Mrs. Teply learned from this mishap.  A quick but strategically placed washcloth is a cure for many ills.


I’m thankful for learning new things…

            I’m sitting in the guardroom at the pool with a few of the other male guards.  I’ve got my laptop out tapping away at the next dodo egg and they’re discussing girls.  “Girls” isn’t quite right – I meant girl. 

            One of the female lifeguards recently became engaged but her behavior hadn’t changed a bit.  She was still attending drinking parties and every Greek function she could.  She was still hanging out with “guy friends” with seemingly little different other than the diamond on her finger.  (Her fiancé is in Georgia.)

            One the guards looks at the other one and mumbles, “You can’t make a ho into a house wife.”

            Huh…never thought about it before but I guess they’re right

I’m thankful that Mrs. Teply isn’t a ho… (that’s right I’m brave enough to put the words in the same sentence!)

            Long before we started dating, Mrs. T and I shared a friendship.  One day I overheard her talking about her new boyfriend (the second boyfriend in three months – wild!).  For reasons known only to the gods of stupidity, I thought it would be funny to call her a “floozy” (I know – wild.)

            Anyway, she became angry and slapped me.  Now, slapping someone in that situation isn’t proof of anything but it is sure a strong opening statement.  Take it from me – she was NOT a ho, floozy, vixen, or anything of the sort.

I’m thankful Mrs. Teply is Mrs. Teply…

            When I was a young man, I didn’t know what I needed in a good woman.  I was more interested in things like hair color, athleticism, size of mother’s rear, and things like that.   I knew a few things to look for but what makes a woman truly valuable was beyond me.

            The truth is -even when I was dating Mrs. Teply – I really wasn’t concerned about the shape of virtuous woman’s soul just her shape. 

            Only years later, have I discovered the wonderful qualities I have in Mrs. T.  I have absolute faith in her discretion, spending, ethic, and everything besides.  I wasn’t looking for it at the time – I was ignorant.  It’s a little like finding a five-dollar bill in a pair of pants but in my case, it’s a one hundred dollar bill.

Forum Question – Porn Stars

Today’s Question….Would you date and then marry a soft-core porn star?

Rob Mitchell from Riverside CA responds:  “Well, I live between Hollywood and Las Vegas so…”

Tim MacAdoo from Charleston SC blurbs:  “As long as the wedding guest list reads, Hugh Hefner and guest and guest and guest and guest and guest, and guest…”

Frank Tipmore from Lafayette LA says:  “Would she be just as hot on the inside?”

Ulysses Grantmore from Dickinson ND quips:  “Sure, I work at the North Dakota Center for the Blind so I could show them a picture of Miss Piggy and they wouldn’t know.  I’ve done stuff like that you know.”

Erik Henderson from Paradise FL admits:  “I just found out my current girlfriend shaves her chest hair so I’d have to say yes.”

Kent Konrads from Quebec mumbles: “I’m married, can I still respond?”

TeJuan Martinez from Arkadelphia AK blathers:  “Yes, as long as the grandkids don’t have access to the Internet.”

We’d like to thank these men for their replies as well as all the fifteen to eighteen year old boys who flooded our response center with over eager responses then asked for further information.

Staff Memo – Coorporate Communications!
Where communication is the key to finding out what’s happening after work.
Where talk is cheap and dialogue is on sale.
Where the water coolers are wired

Hello employees of the most professional novelty & curio company in the continental United States and parts of California!  There is a pressing issue, which, as your leader, I must address.  It involves the ever pressing needs for paradox in an ever-pressing world.  It cannot be ignored any further and someone needs to blow the blow horn on it.

Eugene came into my office this morning and he began telling me a story about finally finding a urologist that was competent, congenial, and had kept his hands warm.  (For those of you in our Manhattan skyscraper who don’t already know  Well, never mind.  Eugene wanted me to keep it a secret so I cant tell you – I wouldn’t shake hands with him though.)  Despite my efforts to drop obvious hints, the guy would not leave the room.  I had a timed game of Solitaire on my computer and had just poured a bowl of Cheerios!  These things are time sensitive!

I quit making eye contact.  I started humming show tunes.  I periodically said, “Yea” in the middle of one of his sentences.  I turned partially away.  Nothing worked!

Starting immediately Policy Number #2333 is in effect.  If a fellow professional blurts out “Yabba, dabba, doo” during a conversation, the other professional is required to shut up.  Hard feelings are not allowed under this policy. 

NOTE:  There are important exceptions.  No “Yabba, dabba, doing” during staff meetings!  I know this is the first thing that went through your heads!  And if you try Policy #2333 on me I’ll open my wallet and begin showing you pictures of my family.  I dare you to try me, sucka!

As always folks professionalism is key to profitability!
Chief Dodo

Personal Space

After nine months of pregnancy, Melissa had come to her limit.  She was sick of being spherical.  Every move she made was an exercise in physics and fashion was more a matter of size than style.  Her thoughts ranged from, “How do I effectively move the most mass using the smallest angle and still create the least tension and fully ignore the effects of gravity?”  Or the more concise, “I cannot freaking move!”

Melissa was more than thrilled when her OBGYN suggested induction.  The anxiety of a mad dash to the hospital (over an hour away in the middle of Nashville) and the dreaded prospect of going late would be removed.  Now a date could be set and the minutest preparations could be made.

Saul was due November 5th, so I knew there was an outside chance that he would be born on my birthday.  I had harbored this hope knowing that the prospects were slim.  Then after Melissa’s last check up, a note was delivered to my classroom at Central Middle.  It read, “Teply, Wife will be induced November 2nd, Your Birthday.” 
The morning of Wednesday November 2nd, 2005 was quiet and foggy.  Melissa and I were in her Ford Escape and moving toward Nashville before anything else stirred for the day.  During most of the trip we sat in a stunned silence.  I gripped Melissa’s hand and tried to comfort her as she dealt with her innumerable fears.

It was business as usual at Baptist Hospital in downtown Nashville.  No one came out to greet us after parking and no band played as we drug our way through the wide automatic doors.  The receptionist robotically gave us the forms to fill out and answered a few of our questions.  Melissa had difficulty even signing her name.  Her arms shook from the shoulders down making the pen hop from one spot on the signature blank to another.

We were shown to the spacious room where the delivery was planned.  Melissa changed into her “hospital grade lingerie” and I went back to the garage for our baggage.  When I returned, Melissa was in bed with a nurse in attendance.  The Pitocin (the drug used to conjure the act of labor) was started at 8:00 AM, an event that was largely anticlimactic.  She was then hooked up to a monitor that gauged Saul’s heartbeat and the strength and frequency of her contractions.  From this point forward, Melissa was leashed to the bed and her bedpan.  I took a seat on the couch, and we waited in vain for the miracle to begin.

Events from this point to 3:00 PM included two attempts to break Melissa’s water (one being successful), a couple of visitors, and Melissa exhausting her entertainment options.  At any point during this wait, I halfway believed that the OBGYN would stroll in and tell us to come back another day.  It really didn’t seem like anything was really happening.

After 3:00, Melissa’s contractions began to pick up as well as the discomfort and anticipation.  She was dilating at an agonizingly slow pace.  She had reached 4 cm, a long distance from the needed 10cm.  The attachments from the monitor had become uncomfortable and a long day in bed made her feel stiff.  Friends had now joined the wait but the anxiety for both of us was inescapable.

Melissa waved the white flag near 4:00 PM and the epidural was requested.  A short while later a young, uncomfortable looking man brought a medical cart into the room.  He introduced himself as an anesthesiologist trainee.  He then requested permission to perform the procedure.  To my mild surprise, Melissa agreed and I could feel my stress level again reaching headache levels.

The epidural itself was tense but routine.  Melissa sat up while the anesthesiologist probed her back for the correct location.  Melissa even had the good humor to inquire about the cost for a full massage (and a Diet Coke).  I had placed my hands on Melissa’s knees in an effort to comfort and steady her.  As the epidural continued, I gradually began transferring my building stress into the grip on her knees.  Before it was finished, Melissa was ordering me to step back.

Henceforth, life became more pleasant if not more exciting.  Melissa would make offhanded, jubilant comments every time a yellow peak on the monitor registered an intense contraction.  She laughed and conversed while her body worked and thanked Heaven for the wonder of numbness.

The good times ended just before 10:00 PM.  Dr. Wise (the OBGYN) again checked Melissa’s progress and reported that she was just 6cm.  The same dilation she achieved hours ago.  Saul’s head was apparently jammed in the birth canal and was starting to swell under the pressure from Melissa’s near constant contractions.  Saul’s shoulder blades were caught behind Melissa’s pelvis further complicating the delivery.  Dr. Wise suggested the possibility of delivering by caesarian.

By 11:00 PM it was apparent Melissa had stalled at 6cm and with Saul under increasing stress it was decided that a C-section would be necessary.  This was a setback considering Melissa’s hope for a quick recovery.  She had a similar operation to remove an ovarian cyst a few years after we married and knew the healing process would be lengthy.

Now I started pondering the remaining possibilities of Saul’s arrival on my birthday.  The clock and I had been locked in a staring contest all day.  My will was losing the battle to impede the quartz driven movement.  At 11:15 the clock seemed satisfied that victory was in hand (minute hand, that is).  The surgical staff began preparing Melissa for the operation.  I stood aside with my fingers crossed behind my back.

I was given a set of disposable scrubs and lead to the quiet hallway outside the operating room.  At 11:40, I was ushered in.  Melissa was on her back with a curtain set up from her shoulders down.  In an effort to comfort her, I took a stool next to her head and began rubbing her temples.  The epidural caused Melissa to shake but otherwise she seemed perfectly calm.  I spoke with her about the excitement of meeting Saul and the conclusion of nine months of preparation.  All the while keeping one eye on a minute hand creeping closer to twelve.

I heard the doctors cue each other to begin the incision.  Not long after, the sound of electricity and then the less than subtle smell of burning flesh.  I knew what they were doing and I hoped that Melissa was too drugged to realize what the odor was. 
“Are they cauterizing me?” she asked.

I nodded.

“You know what?  It smells like Fritos.”  I smiled and Dr. Wise voiced her agreement.

Just minutes later, Dr. Wise asked, “Daddy, do you want to see this?”

The Matt of any other juncture in time would have respectively declined.  However, the one time offer of seeing my first-born son being yanked into the world was to valuable to miss.  I sprang from my stool and peeked over the curtain.

Through an incision in Melissa’s midsection peeped a scrunched purple head with the pale yellow length of an umbilical cord wrapped around it.  Moments later, the rest of Saul’s 21 inch, purple, valen (the white mucus that protects baby’s skin from the amniotic fluid) smeared length burst into the world.           

Saul’s head was frightfully swollen off to one side and bleeding slightly.  The shortened length of his leftover umbilical protruded from his belly like a stunted appendage.  His color was more violet than anything resembling normal flesh.  Every corner was filled with his cries of discontent and the instant he was laid horizontal a healthy stream of urine sprayed anything nearby.  I couldn’t help shedding a few prideful tears.

Saul’s eviction notice was delivered and enacted at 11:52 PM November 2nd, 2005.  My long contest with the clock was over and now I have the unique joy of forever sharing my birthday with Saul James.  Wait…Is this a good thing?

Seeking Personalities

 One of pitfalls of being overly candid (i.e. blunt, tactless, critical) is people assuming you don’t appreciate the good things.  How untrue!  I absolutely appreciate the pleasant, well bred things in life…there just aren’t very many.  Besides, it’s just an opinion and other observers are welcome to disagree (you’re crazy though – that first Transformers movie was written by a twelve year old).

As my brother Nate likes to say, “Matt, yea, he just doesn’t like stuff.”

  Perhaps that’s why I’ve struggled with the following conversation card question, “Name five living people you would jump at a chance to meet.”  I’ve been chewing on this thing for almost three days and well…he’s my list as of Nov. 12th, 2009.

 In no particular order…

 Mark Driscoll (pastor, Mars Hill Church in Seattle)  – I’ve attended private schools for many years and countless (excluding college) Sundays at church.  I’ve listened to almost a million preachers and teachers whose abilities wander the entire spectrum.  I’ve listened to the good, bad, and the windbag.  I’ve been bored stiff in a pew, lulled to sleep in one of those cushy chairs modern churches use, and had my interest opened in one of those steel folding chairs.

 All these speakers and not one has motivated me out of bed in the morning with the anticipation of listening to one.  Mr. Driscoll is the exception.  His keen mix of core theology, modern relevancy, and earnest delivery makes him a pleasure.  He’s been gifted for what he does.

 Bill Watterson (creator, Calvin & Hobbes) – How is it that I can read six pages of comics and barely crack a smile?  There are standards…well thought comics with personal appeal (Peanuts) and those that are laser focused on stunning satire (Dilbert) even a few whose whole purpose was a clever jest (Far Side).  These examples stand on the mountaintops of the comic world but only one reaches the clouds…Calvin & Hobbes.

 It’s sometimes a bit surprising to come across an artist that is miles above his contemporaries.  If comics were taken as seriously as orchestra music, Mr. Watterson would be considered a virtuoso – a prodigy. 
 His last strip was in 1995 and since then he’s done almost everything possible to shut out his fans.  I understand the man is entitled to his privacy but does he not still derive his livelihood from his admirers?  How much hassle could it be after fifteen years?  It seems a little self-absorbed to me.  It’s for this reason I’ve yet to buy the Complete Calvin & Hobbes. 

 Any Member of the US Supreme Court – What does it do to a person’s psyche to be one of the county’s most powerful, unaccountable people?  These black robed sages even hold the interpretive hand over the Constitution!  They can invalidate the will of citizens and legislatures with a little more than an opinionated term paper.  If our democracy has cracks, these men and woman are the ones that can tear them open.

 Anyway, that’s the list.  I couldn’t make it to five…maybe next year.

Accounting for Love

Matt picks up Melissa at her mother’s house.  All day Matt’s mind has been conjuring ways to impress his new girlfriend while his heart continually sings her praises.  He showered before caking the deodorant under his arms and even a swipe down the middle of his chest.  In his pocket, he has his wallet and “protection” – twelve sticks of Big Red.

The front door is a shadow draped walk up the front driveway past the stunted grass that’s still trying to grow under that magnolia tree.  Matt knocks on the door and hides the dense cluster of roses behind his back.  It’s better to make a quick show of them instead of forcing them into her face.  After all, he wants her eyes drawn to his first before they go to the roses.

Melissa answers the door – her high cheeks and perfect smile giving Matt’s chest an unexpected thrill.  Her mother says hello and the couple steps to Matt’s car.  Neither can stop smiling…it really doesn’t matter where they’re going this evening as long as it ends in a private place.   Neither wish to be anywhere other than with each other. 

All this….and Matt is hiding a secret.  It’s a memo pad tucked secretly in his glove compartment.  The pages between the battered covers are full of numbers but not those of Matt’s previous “love interests.”  In fact, there are no phone numbers at all.  (Matt would have used a square of toilet paper for that.)  Beside the memo pad there’s a pen that marks in blood red ink.  The red ink is a keen description of Melissa’s effect on Matt’s wallet.

The pad contains dollar amounts down to the cent.  Matt wants to know the exact cost of finding a spouse so he’s recorded the cost of the roses ($22.98).  The dinner tonight will be paid out of Matt’s checking account but the cost won’t be lost to oblivion the second he stares too long in Melissa’s eyes…instead it will go into the memo pad (Two McDonald’s Happy Meals…$6.22).  He’s even prorated the increase deodorant usage to her account (consumption easily doubled!).

Eventually all fools talk.  “Hey mom,” Matt mentions one day on the phone.  “Guess what I’ve been doing?  Ha, I’ve been recording everything I’ve spent on Melissa.  You know, in case we ever get married I’ll be able to tell anyone exactly how much my wife cost.  That sounds pretty cool right?”

Silence for a moment.  “Matt, if you have any long term plans than destroy that thing NOW!  You can’t do something like that!  Don’t you have a romantic bone in your body?”

Matt’s brows knit.  “Why, is this against the rules?”

“Matt, listen to your mother.  The rules of romance are simple and complicated at the same time – I’ll keep this simple.  Show Melissa that you’re thinking of her even when she’s not around and let her know that she occupies the most prominent place in your thinking.  DON’T do anything that makes her question your mindset.  Buying her roses makes her believe that you’ve been thinking about her but recording the cost tells her you’re concerned about money.
Now do yourself a favor and throw that dumb thing away.”


Years later, after eleven years of martial ups and downs (many more ups), a wiser Matt thinks again about the memo pad he threw way.  “Man that was stupid.  A memo pad wouldn’t have been anywhere near big enough to record what this woman has cost me.”

Haunting Customers

About a month ago I visited the website of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings.  I was riffling through their site store looking for something that sparked my interest.  Much of it was Viking themed junk (key chains, PEZ dispensers, purple covers for your pepper spray) but something did stand out.  It was the official Viking’s Yearbook.  A publication I hoped would be filled with stats, history, and interesting player profiles.   With everything else on the site priced six times above cost, I was surprised to find it was only eleven dollars.

 I clicked on the Yearbook then on the little digital cart to follow through with my purchase.  “Wow, shipping and handling is only another eleven dollars or I could have it over-nighted for fifty!” 

Look, why don’t we just drop the shipping and handling blurb and call it a sucker tax?  I’m serious.  Anyway, I paid the eleven dollars and it still took THREE WEEKS to get the #$@ thing. 

When the glossy pages finally did reach my eager fingertips, I dived in hoping for twenty-two dollars of riveting information on the team.  Instead, the player profiles were portraits of selected players looking menacing with a tiny box of their career statistics.  The articles where exercises in hyperbole.  (“Head Coach Brad Childress is the football mind behind filing the ball with air!  He is currently trying to change our national colors from red, white, and blue to purple and gold.  No doubt he will be successful in this as he has everything else in his life!”)  Worst of all…the cheerleaders were given only headshots.  Morons!  I don’t care about the cheerleader’s hair!!

I honestly believe a high school journalism class could have put together a more interesting publication.  I know I could.

 However, the worst part wasn’t the price or the content.  It’s a phenomenon I call HYC.  
 H – Haunt
 Y – Your
 C – Customers

To buy the yearbook, I needed to hand over my email address.  I hoped it was only to send me my receipt but I was wrong again.  Now I get advertisements in my email inbox telling me about other great products I most likely can’t live without.  I really only wanted the yearbook.  That’s it…I mean it.  This happens all the time!  

*Are you foolish enough to order something from a JCREW catalogue?  HYC!  Now you’re going to need a forklift to empty your mailbox each day!

*Have you given money to a charity but didn’t want to become a long time supporter?  HYC!  Get ready for six hundred IMORTANT MESSAGES regarding the starving lamas in Ecuador.

*Did you order something from ITunes?  Hope you like email messages!  HYC!  With your next purchase, Apple is offering you an application that doesn’t allow you to delete Apple emails!  Order now!

There’s nothing that can be done to stem the onslaught of HYC.  It’s one of the inoperable cancers of our capitalist system.  Just mimic what I’ve started doing…handing out my wife’s email address and my neighbor’s address.  Works like a charm.

 Note #1:  The Viking’s site had a lot of loud slogans for fans.  One that caught my eye was, “Show Your Horns!”  I think I know what they’re trying to say but it sounds a little exhibitionist to me.  I recommend checking state laws before…showing your horns.

Note #2:  A quick word about my relationship with the Vikings:  I’ve grown up rooting for the team and have digested every bitter defeat as if it was my own.  When you consider that my expectations for my own behavior are surprisingly low, a Viking’s loss bothers me more than my own personal missteps.  Do the fortunes of a sports organization have any bearing on my life…nope…but I get emotionally invested anyway.  I take it personally.  Does that make any sense?

The Way of the Dodo

November 2nd, 2009 was my 350th, er, I mean 35th birthday.  People sent cards and called to wish me a “Happy Birthday” but I’m no longer convinced birthdays are completely happy occasions.  In a way, it’s like another step in everyone’s long path on the way of the dodo. 

It used to be that birthdays were substantially happier.  They were like magic spells where your parents couldn’t fault you.  The number attached to your name changed meaning you had more freedom and more clout.  A year older meant you were closer to dating age, driving a car, and telling your parents, “Sorry, I’m too old to be spanked.”

The biggest victory I celebrate on my birthdays now is the battle over the top, middle, and bottom.  What do I mean?  The top refers to my hair.  (Still there…win.)  The middle is the middle-aged gut all guys acquire.  (Still not there…win.  Note:  If I was to start a middle aged gut now would be the season – days of Halloween candy coupled with days of leftover birthday cake.)   The bottom refers to the fact that I can still run.  (I do a 5k each time I step on the track.  Does saying 5K impress anyone?)

I’ve come up with a possible remedy to the birthday doldrums.  If for some reason, you forget about it does that negate it?  I know it sounds far-fetched but if it just slipped your mind could you get by with it?  …You’re right, it’s easier just to lie and be done with it.

Here’s a handy chart for those who didn’t already know…

18- You’re now a half adult.

21 – Now you’re a full adult.

27- If you’re not married, you should know that many of the good ones are going off the market about now.

30- That’s it.  Now you’re no longer young.  Welcome to middle aged.

35- If a lifetime was a mountain, you’re about to see the other side.

40- If you smile at a young woman, you’re now creepy.

55- Life takes a small bump…two actually.  Kids should be leaving and retirement is close.

60 – You’re sex appeal…RIP.

70- The golden years of boredom.  Maybe your thirties weren’t so bad.

80 – You ask yourself, “Why am I still here?”

90- Others ask, “Why is he still here?”