Lunch of Dodo Eggs

I’m sitting in an old home in Pulaski Tennessee that’s been converted to a restaurant.  The second you walk through the wide, wooden door you feel cramped by the old furniture stacked high with organic body butters and all-natural essential oils.  There are baked goods for sale as well – things like eucalyptus-oat-lemon loaf or something like that.  The paint is pastel and the music is being played by pixies on small xylophones.

That’s right, I’ve walked into a woman’s restaurant.  I glance over the menu and engage the two men I’m with in conversation.

Me:  “Well, whoever suggested this place gets to pick up the tab.  I’m not joking.”

Doug:  “It was this or McDonald’s.  So back off before I have the bouncer here cream your can.”

Me:  (Under my breath.)  “Cream my can?”

Waitress:  Walks up.  “Our special today is a rose hip housework salad with fresh ground potpourri and topped with a rich estrogen dressing.”

Me:  (After Marty and Doug order)  “Uh, I guess I’ll have the Deli Rose (NOT a joke.).”

The waitress leaves and all three of us squeeze the lemon into our waters and stir with our straws. 

Marty:  “So Matt, you teach huh?  What’s that like?”

Me:  “A loaded question.  How about I tell you only the stuff you’d be interested in.  For example, Friday after the kids were released from the bus room the first kid down the hall hands me a condom.  He says, ‘Here you go Mr. Teply.  Thought you might need it.”  (NOT a joke.)

Doug:  “You’re kidding me!”

Me:  “Nope that’s not a joke.  Didn’t I just say that?  Anyway, that’s not all.  During class, we were going over area and volume.  I showed them the formula for volume of a cylinder then off-handedly asked what city department would have a use for that information.  The first kid who raises his hand says, ‘The shape department.”

Doug:  “That’s a good one.”

Me:  “Still not kidding.  Ok, one more – this one happened last week – we were doing unit conversations and I mentioned that your skin completely replaces itself every 45 days.  The idea was for them to find out how many skins they go through in a year.  A kid raises his hand and asked if there was any chance he would be a different color in a month and a half.”  (NOT a joke.)

Doug and Martin chortle  into thier salads.

Grab Bag

Like the arms and legs of broken action figures, the following ideas have rattled around the bottom of the toy box for a long time. Clumsily, I’ve tried to expand them, fix them, make them workable. For this reason, the only “whole” these ideas will form is a complete pile of nonsense. But by all means, enjoy!

EVENTS, DISINTEREST, AND VIDEO TAPE

What percentage of home video recordings are ever watched again? You know what I’m talking about. Aunte Pearl videoing the entire dance recital even though her niece has fallen over twice. There’s the Christmas program that Sandie may or may not be in…we know she’s one of the shepherd’s sheep. And who can forget Billy-Bob’s third birthday! It needed to be recorded since BB is only three once. (Let me remind you – you only get the chicken pox once but that doesn’t need to be recorded forever now does it. Yes, it’s the same thing!)

Here are the facts as researched by DodoEggs.com’s Fact-Checker-Upper Department.

Fact #1 – 82% of respondents have never rewatched their wedding video after the honeymoon.

Fact #2 – If given the option, 98% of respondents would rather watch an old episode of Magnum P.I. than watch grainy footage of their nephew’s bar mitzvah.

Fact #3 – 100% of men will one day throw out or record over Frankie’s kindergarten graduation. 99% of wives will be angry about this for no good reason.

KFC KOMPLAINT

After garage saleing with my wife (for the LAST time), we stopped into a KFC for a quick lunch. Chicken isn’t really my favorite so it’s a rare thing for me to eat there. Melissa ordered some fried chicken and I ordered a chicken sandwich.

“Surely,” thought I. “A restaurant that specializes in fried chicken can piece together a decent chicken sandwich.”  I put two and two together and came up with four. The reward for my assumption? A limp, white bun, a spot of mayo, pickle, and a chicken piece seasoned with leather. It was a sandwich perfect for a starving refuge with all the flair of a funeral.

If a chicken place can’t make a decent chicken sandwich then what are McDonald’s chances with a burrito?

 SHE MEANS CHEST MUSCLES

My sister approached me over Christmas break and asked if I wanted to invest on the ground floor of an exciting new chain of restaurants called “Peckers.” It would feature the bill of a woodpecker as the P in the name and feature men in tank tops and skin colored tights.

As she explains, “It’ll be great. We can even have themed days. Tall and thin guys will serve on Mondays when we discount the fat free menu. Tuesdays can be short but cute guys and the kitchen special will be on shrimp. Hamburgers half off on Beefcake Wednesdays!”

 I should note that she’s still looking for inverters…if you’re interested.

Don’t Bet On It

 Mr. Samuels and I are standing in the school auditorium as the buses empty their entrails.  We haven’t said anything for a while and so I reach into my standard conversational questions.  (This will definitely become a DodoEgg someday.  Everyone should have a list of basic questions that scatters uncomfortable silence.)

“Do you bet Mr. Samuels?”

He makes a forced frown and rocks up on his toes.  “Ah, I play poker a bit but I only use money I can afford to lose…you know, discretionary money.”

Most people respond this way.  I usually reply one of two prepared ways…

A) “Of course, you’re insane if you view gambling money any other way.”

B) “Is there really such a thing as discretionary money when most people owe on a house or know people in need?’

I’m not really interested in broadening the conversation so I chose Option B.

Mr. Samuels nods and continues.  “You know, I have a friend who learned to play craps.  Well, he manages to win, like, 8,000 dollars the first night he plays.  He thinks he’s some sort of idiot savant and runs out and quits his job so he can play craps full-time.”

“So, he’s more idiot than savant.”

More nodding.  “Right.  Soon he’s thirty thousand dollars in debt with no job.  Then it occurs to him that he’s made a mistake.”

My eyes widened.  “Thirty thousand, huh?  You mean at the twenty thousand mark he was still thinking, ‘This will work out fine.  I just need to stick with it?’  He turned a good thing like winning money into a bad situation.  Strange.”

A bulge under one of the bus kid’s jackets indicated they were trying to smuggle in a weapon of mass destruction into the school again.  Mr. Samuels left my side to go and confiscate it.  It turned out to be just a tank of mustard gas…rookies…7th graders still have a hard time getting nuclear materials.

Addendum:  I was driving by a casino last year and was amazed by the thick number of billboards that crowd the roadside.  Anyway, most of them bragged about “95% payback on slots!” – as if this was a good thing!

In other words, we’ll change all the dollars you’ve got into ninety-five cents!  What a service!  Try the buffet!

Earning an F

“Are you gifted?”…”No, I’m Steve.”

 A young man shoves his small pile of school supplies from the tabletop into the mouth of his open backpack.  He’s excited because this is going to be the year he makes his mother proud.  This is going to be the year he makes the honor roll and takes his place among the smart kids.  He wants to meet his new teachers.  There’s also a chance he could be seated next to Leah Schumaker!

 His mother is in the car and she’s already started the engine.  She’s late for work again and if he doesn’t hurry, she’ll chew him out.  Then she’ll drop him off a block from school which means a mad dash through school morning traffic – good thing his backpack has reflective strips!

 “Now remember,” she’ll tell him.  “Mommy needs her money for her medications so you’d better write on everything you have whose it is.  I’m not kidding.  If I have to buy you pencils instead of Prozac I’m likely to stab you with them.  And remember – mommy spent time in the slammer so I know how to make a good shank.”

 The young man makes it to his classroom and while the teacher begins her speech (“No gum, no talking, no cheating, no bad hygiene, no notes, no foreign languages, no clothing from the 1970s) the student takes out a pen.  With keen intensity he begins following his mother’s instructions to mark each item he owns. 

 Carefully, he etches “M-I-N-E” into the side of all sixty pencils.

Being Professional

 Three years ago I had a student in my last period math class who in no particular order…

1) Never came to class with a pencil or paper.  Nothing!  What was he doing during the five minutes it takes him to cross the hall from Science to Math?  He wouldn’t even bother to ask to borrow from the kids around him.

2) Speaking of five minutes – sometimes it wasn’t enough!  I’d begin class and the door behind me would open interrupting my class.

3) He honestly lacked any detectable math skills.  He didn’t even know his multiplication tables!

4) This student made no effort to learn.  He wouldn’t listen to the lesson or instructions.  Once the assignment was made, he would not know how or what to do.  Then he would proceed to huff and puff until I arrived to repeat them specifically for him!  (And then he still didn’t know how!)

5) This boy would not shut up.  He disturbed others around him with his constant yapping.  Write-offs and detention did little to inhibit him…instead he would pout because I was picking on him.

One of the other teachers was writing up a discipline referral on him.  She approached me about anything I could contribute.

“Yes,” I began.  “Write on there that Douglas is a complete educational negative.”

Later that day, the principal shows up at my door, “What’s this?  You can’t write this.  Everything has to stay professional.  Just the facts.”

Ok, so I wrote out the five items listed above then I looked at my principal and quietly said, “Are you sure you didn’t want the condensed version?”

Precious Metals

I had a friend in college who always seemed to have money but he never worked.  Naturally, I assumed he was suckled at the tit of his parent’s pocket book.  When I asked him about this, he vehemently denied it.  “Sure my parents send me a little something every now and then but it’s nothing really – hardly anything.  They’re old and believe it’s still possible to live on fifty dollars a week.  How do they expect me to get the ladies attention with the same clothes I wore in high school?”

Looking at him again, it was impossible not to notice the suede jacket and name brand “distressed” jeans.  The outfit wasn’t threatening me…we apparently were angling to attract a different type of female …but it was expensive.

“Um, there’s no way you can afford these clothes.  How can you afford to go out each week, date, buy new clothes, and all that without a job?  Are you collecting plastic then running them up to their limits?”

He laughed.  “Nope, do you know where that Arab guys play soccer?  It’s a field about a mile down the road.  A whole bunch of them play on Saturdays and Sundays.”

Was he changing the subject?  “So…” 

“Well, those guys wear their gold jewelry all the time…even when they’re playing soccer!  I just go out there with my metal detector every other week and I usually come back with almost a sandwich bag of gold goodies.  Of course, you need to keep this on the down-low because if you ruin my racket , I’ll hire a hit man to take you out.”

************

On long road trips, Melissa likes to fill up the car and acquire a cup of expensive, goofy flavored coffee.  I don’t have any love for that stuff – in fact I like to call the place SuckerBucks.  Melissa does more than her share of the driving so I usually don’t complain.

We’re slicing through the drive-through trying our best to make it to the Interstate in quick fashion.  Melissa gets a low-fat, mocha, latte, chocolate, hokey-pokey, grande coffee.  The lady running the window hands over the coffee and with it we received a small circular magnet that has, “Got Beans?” cleverly spelled out above a coffee bean.  

I take the magnet and begin auditioning places in the car to stick it.  The dashboard?  Nope…plastic.  Center council?  Nix…more plastic.  Roof?  Door?  Floor?!  There was no place in the inside of the car to place that magnet.  I really wasn’t sure what to make of it…was I incredulous or just surprised?

“Hey Melissa, do you realize that there is absolutely nothing of metal on the inside of our SUV?  These things are supposed to be ruff, rugged off road machines and the inside is nothing but plastic!  Are you ok with that?”

She gave me a patient look. “Why don’t you turn on the radio?”

Depression’s Big Day

Depression’s evil powers of persuasion have found a roost.  It’s a day on the calendar that is breathed into existence by the long sighs of the public.  All the cheerful platitudes you can conjure will not help you.  It is a simple, white square that sits on the left side of calendars, waiting passively for its inevitable chance to drag you down.  Like the E on your gas tank, it is a certainty. 

The last Monday in January (shiver) has a list of depressive powers that surprise.  Consider…

     1) Football season is over (or almost over) and your team really stunk.

     2) Your New Year’s resolution (I will read more DodoEggs) is already in the tank.

     3) Inside your mailbox is an envelope with your credit card bill and you made Santa’s “Stupid” list.

     4) The shortest day of the year is here.  “Why does 4pm look like 4am?”

     5) Old Man Winter is sitting squarely on your head.   

     6) I told you it was Monday, right?

     7) TV is airing reruns and, wait, no one’s watching anymore.  Never mind.
That’s a pretty overbearing list!  Don’t worry though; at DodoEggs.com we know better than anyone else that misery loves company.  Here are a few days that will make you WISH for the last Monday in January.

February 15th – Valentine’s Day is over and you didn’t get any.  Chocolate that is.

October 21st – Shoot, it’s the anniversary of your great-grandma Ruthie’s death.  You probably didn’t even remember did you?

May 12th – Let’s stop and run the numbers on the National Noose, I mean, er, Debt.  What was my share again?

March 2nd – Remember this date?  It’s when you were expecting to be fluent in Butswipean but instead the CDs and books are still sitting under your bed.

Month of September – It’s Ugliness Awareness Month and you’re about to receive your handwritten invitation to lead the “UGLY AND PROUD” parade through downtown Ekalaka, Montana.

June 31st – This would have been a great day!  …now we’ll never know.

July 5th – Stop and think about what you spent on fireworks.

Flag Day – How are you supposed to enjoy Flag Day without a good sturdy flag pole?!  Dang!  You’ve blown another year!

Really, any day is a good day for depressive thoughts.  In fact, let’s take a time out, breathe, relax, and remember that you aren’t getting any younger.  Heck, come to think about it, in four hundred years who will even know your name?  The guy who mows your cemetery ploy quit reading the stones a long time ago.

The Wonders of Children

Early Sunday afternoon and the church crowd had taken over the deli.  (Note:  It’s one of the “quick service” restaurants – you know, a baby step up from fast food where you wait longer to order but they bring it to your table.  If you call it fast food, they’ll give you plain potato chips instead of delicious French fries…wait a minute.)  Anyway, the place is packed with do-gooders looking to hobnob after the Sunday service.  I was one of them.

David, our church’s music minister, had invited Melissa and me out to lunch in order to acquaint ourselves with a visiting family.  The Landons had set up household in the same small town where Melissa and I live.  Truly, I can think of no better method to attract and hold visitors than the one two punch of “food & fellowship” – a free meal and connections with people in similar thread of life.  The conversation was quick and plentiful and it only took me about forty five minutes to remember the names of the Landons’ five children. 

As the meal wound down, someone appeared at the table with a small bowl of soft-serve ice cream.  My interest was drawn away and my world narrowed.  “Where did you get that?!”

The human with the ice cream (I think it was my wife) pointed to the far wall near the soda fountain.  A moment later, I was on my feet excusing myself through the smattering of pedestrians.  Soft serve!  “Perhaps,” I began, “I’ll just stick my head under the machine and just camp out there.”

“Yea, are you sure you want to do that?  That might be a health code violation.”  Mark Landon was directly behind me with three of his small boys in tow.

“Just kidding.”  I replied.  “I’d only do that if I ever managed to get one of these machines at home.”  I snatched a bowl (no bigger than my palm…curses!) and filled it with ice cream.

“Fat and happy…I like it.”  Mark took a single cone and filled it with ice cream.  I expected him to hand it to one of his boys and begin making another.  Instead he turned and the four of them wandered back to the table.

I couldn’t believe my eyes.  “No way.”

Sure enough, All four shared the same cone and NOT ONCE did any of those boys (ages 7, 5, and 4, mind you) ask for more or complain that they weren’t getting enough.  It was a shock almost big enough to distract me from going back for more.

“Mark, are you going back for another?”

“Nope, I want to manage their sugar.”

Each kid got two miserable bites.  Was I in the Twilight Zone?

Melissa leaned over.  “Would you look at that!?  I can’t help but compare this with the scene last night where you finished your French fries then began stealing your three year old son’s – over his protests!” 

“Woman, go away…and when you come back, bring me some more ice cream.”

Bonus Info:  Earlier in the meal I watched Amos (boy #3) take a spoon and scoop up the small pile of ketchup that was left on his plate.  The boys had their plates completely clean with everything eaten…INCLUDING their condiments.

Breach of Trust

Supper is coming together at the Teply household.  Matt and Melissa flip the stove on and begin assembling the ingredients to for spaghetti.  Within minutes, Melissa is watching as the water begins boiling and steam curls toward the ceiling.  Matt does his part digging through the pantry.  “Where did you say the spaghetti sauce was?”

Satisfied with her success over the water, Melissa moves to the cutting board.  She’s chopping up a bell pepper.  “It’s over to the right.  While you’re down there, pull out a can of olives and mushrooms.  We need to stiffen the sauce a bit.”

Eventually Matt finds the right jar and pops the top.  He sets it on the counter and examines the label.  The sticker is laced in bright green with “NOW OUR CHUNKYEST IS EVEN CHUNKER!” written from one side to the other.

Matt looks at the extra ingredients his wife is asking him to pull out and then looks again at the label.  “The sauce isn’t really that chunky is it?’

“Nope.”

That’s when Matt’s soul tears in two – a sacred trust between consumer and producer has been destroyed.  Those executives at Happy Time Spaghetti Sauce Company (Note: not their real name) know their “chunky” sauce really isn’t chunky!  They abuse the word because it contains microscopic bits of onion and garlic.  Anyone who understands the definition of chunky would never look at those jars of tomato juice and offer the adjective “chunky.”  Do you hear me Happy Time?!  NOBODY!

Speaking of things I no longer trust…

I no longer trust jewels.  I remember waltzing into a mall jewelry store on a whim and seeing a sapphire the size of thigh on sale for a surprisingly low price.  Then I took a closer look at the label…”What do they mean, ‘LAB CREATED?  They can make precious stones in the lab?”

I envisioned men with plastic safety goggles and white lab coats mixing the swirling contents of test tubes into a homemade bread maker (sometimes I pretend it’s a blender), setting the timer, then coming back to a beautiful gem.  What does this do to the value and integrity of the real stones!? 

The salesperson swore that there’s no way you can tell the difference between a natural sapphire and one that has been lab created.  He must have believed that I was interested when, in fact, I was horrified.  You can’t tell the difference!?  That makes sapphires, rubies, and emeralds close to worthless.  Let’s just all wear costume jewelry!

Come to think of it, I don’t trust the phrase, “financially secure” either.

Elderly Thinking

Sunday morning…tiny motes of dust swim through slanted columns of light that pushed through the window curtains. Each bit took my thoughts in a different direction.
Am I breathing that stuff in? How much does each one weigh? Is it skin off that guy over there?

I thumbed to the maps in the back of my Bible and studied the path of Paul’s third missionary journey again. The room was filled with the smell of old paper and jasmine perfume. Every time I squirmed a bit the battered, metal folding chair would creak.
Hmmm, I wonder if Paul ever contacted a travel agent?

I was trapped in the Sunday school class called the “Late Bloomers.” I should have escaped to the class with for my own age group but it was too late now. They had just taken six thousand prayer requests for various aches, pains and other more serious matters. I know God listens and is aware of each one but I couldn’t care less about Silas Gretchmore’s gall bladder.

Have I ever read the book of Numbers? I wonder what it’s about?

Then it was time for prayer. At the front of the small room, an elderly voice droned, “And Lord, we also pray for Eugene Blatamer’s gallbladder as well. We pray that you would give him comfort as it has been removed.”

I wonder if those around me are praying or getting a head start on their afternoon nap?

I didn’t know any of the folks for whom they were praying and it wasn’t easy to sit still.  My most recent bout with “prehistoric” jock itch was occupying most of my attention. Each time I adjusted my hindquarters the chair would release another squeak – like the cry of a pinned rat.

Mmmm…I can smell the casserole dishes from here. This potluck is going to be great.

My wife should be sitting beside me but she woke up with a headache and flu symptoms. I might have stayed with her but my Grandmother-in-law persuaded me otherwise. “Oh yea, you can come with me. You’ll enjoy the prayer request time where each member gets to air their latest health problem.” He smiled and poked me in the ribs. “I’ll be sure they mention your fungus problem for prayer.”

“…and Lord we pray that you would give Matt comfort from his unmentionable request. Lord, we don’t know the exact nature of Matt’s problem but we pray for Your hand on whatever it is bothering him…Amen.”

I sat half listening to the lesson on fleeing from temptation. Listening to all the metaphors to running, I couldn’t help wondering when was the last time anyone in the room had fled from anything.

After the closing prayer, I offered this question to my grandmother-in-law and a few of the older gentlemen around her. “When was the last time you actually picked up your knees and ran?”

They looked at each other smiles creasing their faces. No one could answer my question. I pressed the issue. “Well why don’t you? Wouldn’t you like to run again even if it’s for no apparent reason?”

A man in an out of date polyester suit pointed to me. “We don’t run because we’re old. Once you get old – you’re done running. Actually, you’re done doing a lot of things.” The guys around him chuckled a bit making me feel uncomfortable.

“So basically what you’re telling me is that once a man is old, that’s it, he’s old. The sign a man is officially old is that he can no longer run.”

Another man said, “You’re only as old as you feel and if you feel old, you ain’t running.”

One of the wives scooted her chair toward the men. “So you think that’s what makes a man old huh? Well then, what makes a woman officially old?”

This answer I knew. “Ma’am, if you look at all the other women’s hair you’ll notice it’s permed into spirals so tight it would take a can opener to reach their scalps. That’s how you know an old…I mean mature woman.”

The woman’s expression didn’t change for a second then she smiles and said, “Well, look who just talked his way out of the potluck.”

Nothing says, ''The sex appeal is gone!'' like a good perm

Nothing says, ''The sex appeal is gone!'' like a good perm

The Digressive Gene

I’ll be honest; there is a digressive gene in my family that has been proudly passed on from generation to generation.  It isn’t apparent to the eye but Teply’s have a genius that is difficult to detect (see: DodoEggs.com).  To prove my point, I am offering you three quick snippets of information.  Two of them are absolutely true and one is fictional.  See if you can pick which one.

Eight Track Static

Uncle Bill Teply has a nose for valuable collectibles…well valuable is the wrong fit.  When cassette tapes first made their appearance, 8-tracks were doomed to share the dodo bird’s place in oblivion.  However, my uncle saw an opportunity for investment.  One day Bill went to K-Mart (You know what a K-Mart is right?) and bought stacks of eight tracks with a mind that they would one day be sought after antiques.

You know there is only one way this ends…a dusty box in a musty basement.  The only thing of value my Uncle earned was this valuable lesson:  Never let good money chase bad technology.

Of course you never know, there’s always a chance that all that plastic and magnetic tape could appreciate.  I suggested to my Uncle that he send each 8-track to the respective artist.  Perhaps getting each one autographed would help the value.  After all, it’s not like any of those musicians are doing anything now anyway.

He replied with something unbecoming so I suppose that means his collection won’t be left to me…whew.

Pay to the Order of…My Hindquarters!!

Papa Teply hated paying the bills.  That’s really no surprise and no one can really blame him.  What separated Mr. Teply from other dads was the charismatic way my father went about paying his bills.  As he wrote out the check, he would make good use of the Memo line.

What do I mean?  Instead of writing, “Electric Bill – August ’85,” he would spell out something of a more abusive nature.  That’s right; my father would cuss on his checks.  The water bill would have, “DROWN IN $!##.”  The electric bill would be embellished with, “KISS MY ELECTRIC @$$!”

Who needs personalized checks when Papa Teply was so adept at doing it himself?  Don’t you wish you were a Teply?

Hey Kids, Do You Like Chicken?

Teply’s are masters of innovation.  There is no problem that a Teply can’t either cobble together a solution for or completely ignore.  It’s a gift.  My brother Nate bares this talent.  Try as I might to convince him he was adopted…the mark of Teply genius is simply too strong to dismiss.

Sometimes apartment dwellers are left a little in the lurch when it comes to Halloween.  Do you stock copious amounts of candy in case smart trick-or-treaters decide apartments offer the most doors with the least walking or do you buy just one bag because many parents steer kids away from these dens of debauchery?

A few years back, Nate decided that his Halloween traffic would be light and there would be no need for more than one sack of candy.  He didn’t even bother putting it in a bowl.  Yet before seven o’clock his stores of confectionary delights was running low.  (It didn’t help that he couldn’t keep his own fingers out.)
With the doorbell continually ringing and the bag running low, Nate went into Teply genius mode.

“Hey Jennifer, if we had any candy hidden where would it be?”

Jennifer replied, “Well since you don’t cook…I’d hide it behind the spices but I don’t think there’s any there.”

Nate went to the narrow cabinet and seeing nothing sweet settled on a different option.  For the remainder of the night, he passed out colorful, foil wrapped chicken bouillon cubes.

“Hey, at least they’re sugar free.”