Teddy and Val Act 3

February 14th, 2018

A Valentine's Day Love Tragedy (in 3 acts)

The knock at the door comes hard and firm. "I'm coming, hold on!" Mr Cocoa shouts as he walks toward the door. Still, the knocking is persistent, and growing more furious. "Hold your horses! I'm coming!" The door is flung open, and his mood isn't helped when he finds the frowning face of that goober woman. Before he can speak, Mrs Hypogeo fires at him, "What has your son done with my daughter!" It really wasn't a question as much as an accusation.

"Don't you go blaming' my boy if your girl got herself into some kinda trouble." Mr Cocoa reacted in defense.

"Don't you give me that." Mrs Hypogeo shot back. "Val was supposed to be home hours ago. I've phoned her friends, and they all agree they saw her leave school with that boy of yours."

"I'm telling you, it can't be Teddy. He's been at work since..." Mr Cocoa's words hung in the air as the telephone broke into the conversation. "Hold that thought. Lemme get the phone."

"I'm not leaving until I get to the bottom of this." Insisted Mrs Hypogeo as she let herself in on the heels of Mr Cocoa. The phone's insistent ringing is cut short with the gruff bark of "Hello. Cocoa speaking."

The one sided conversation was brief. "What? No, I ain't got no TV on.... The news? Are you sure? Yeah, yeah, alright already..." The last statement being said as the TV remote is scooped up. "Alright I said... I got it on right now..." At the press of a button, the news report fills the screen.

The parents of the prominent, rival families stand speechless as they watch the screen. "At the scene of the disaster, police are doing their best to keep the crowds back from what appears to be a double suicide. Witnesses say they saw the couple leap from the top of the 15 story high rise at this busy downtown location." The man on the street reporter announced. "So far, identity has been difficult with the conditions of the severely mangled bodies. Some believe it could be the result of a suicide pact between young lovers."

As police push crowds back to stand clear of the crime scene tapes, the reporter turns to one of the cops. "Can you tell us anything about the tragedy sir?"

"I'm not at liberty to say much, but from the smashed up mess... well... there's just not a lot to go on other than a smear of peanut butter, and broken bis of chocolate." Was the cop's response.

"Peanuts, and chocolate?" Confirmed the reporter. "Does this have something to do with the rival families? Peanut barons, the Hypogeo's, and Chocolate importers, the Cocoa's?" The reporter stated, putting the clues together. "They have been notorious rivals for years. Do you suspect fowl play?"

"Now that, we can't say for sure, but we suspect something else." The officer said.

"What do you mean?" Was the obvious question.

"Well, we haven't located any identification yet, but this was found in a wallet near the scene." The officer held up a piece of paper and read...

Teddy's Alone Poem
By Theodore B Cocoa

All day the crowds I'm with fill my head.
Each saying the other is to dread.
One allows only they are right,
And the other deserves only a fight.

In one there are shades of light to dark.
Shapeless, pliable, conforming, and pleasing for all.
The other holds to form. Round, and firm is the mark.
Crusty shell, roasted, salty, and tall.

Chocolate and peanut, but neither shall cross,
From one to the other. Mixing is forbid.
Peanut and Chocolate, to one the other is loss.
I've always believed this since I was a kid.

Alone in my thoughts, only you crowd in.
How did I ever win a Peanut as a friend?
Those old ideas now seem so lame.
As much as we're different, somehow we're the same.

The reporter comments, "Aw, that's so sweet. What's this, sticking out of this purse?" Holding up another paper, the reporter reads...

By Valencia Hypogeo

Busy life, with things to do.
Busy at home wen the day is through.
Screens from TV, phones, or games.
Always distracted, over stimulating my brain.

Everyone seems to belong to one group or other.
A team, or a club. A strong band of brothers.
Finding a place in one is no bother,
But interests elsewhere beg not to be smothered.

The door closes, and alone in a room;
The clock ticks slowly, and a welcome gloom;
Comes rolling over, as still as a tomb.
Sweeping the cobwebs with his own mental broom.

Now alone, with nothing to do,
My mind races, always to you.
The one i can't have, with you i find peace,
Torn between two worlds where there is no release.

Alone in my head, i find you. I find hope
Stress is squashed in my quiet place. I can cope.
I want to be tied to you with a chord, a strong tether
And draw you to my solitude, to stay here forever.

The pressure of life, expectations and strife.
Mean we could never be one, a man and a wife.
To be with you with each living breath;
Until we reach the forever of death.

As the camera pans away from the scene, the cop has to rush over as a few watchers from the crowd sneaks under the crime scene tapes. "Hey! Get away from there! Stand behind the yellow tapes. Stay out of the crime scene!"

As the crowd complies, a voice is heard, "Hey, did somebody put peanut butter in that chocolate?"

An answer comes, "No, I think somebody put their chocolate into this peanut butter."

As the camera fades to black, another voice is heard, "Hey, two great tastes that taste great together!" Then the cop roaring, "I said get away from there. Stop eating the crime scene! Hey! Put the evidence back, and stop nibbling it!"

Teddy and Val Act 2

February 7th, 2018

A Valentine's Day Love Tragedy (in 3 acts)

Teddy was stunned, as he stared at his smart phone screen. The disbelief slowly faded and he was drawn back to reality, as the image on his smart phone disappeared with a shriek, and a lost connection. What was that? What just happened? His mind began it's slow trek to the real world around him, and he thought he heard noises in the hallway.

Crouched under his blanket, the fog in his mind had only begun to clear, and he realized he was still holding the last breath he took when his screen went crazy. Suddenly, he let out a grunt of surprise as his blanket was torn from over his head.

"What you think you doin' boy?" It was his dad's deep baritone voice. "You're not looking at those dirty pictures on the Internet are you? You know what I tol' you about that, and what your mama will say if she finds out."

"No papa, I was just..." Teddy's eyes were full of terror. Not for doing what his father guessed, but he would be in just as much trouble if his dad knew what he was really doing... who he was really talking to.

"Hey," his dad began, mistaking the terror for guilt. "You been up to something. Gimme the phone." Teddy hesitated, but only long enough to tap his thumb on the screen, and display his home screen.

"Come on boy, give it up. Lemme see what you been lookin' at." His father coaxed. "Hey, what did you do?" The elder Cocoa might not be tech savvy, but he knew the harmless looking home screen wasn't the cause of the sounds he heard on his trip to the rest room a moment ago.

Teddy hated to lie, but he didn't want to get his dad riled up at this late hour. A little case of self preservation didn't hurt either. "It was Toby. He just sent me a message to say..."

"And this message had you giggling like a little girl." cut in his skeptical father. Teddy tried to keep up his best poker face, despite the feeling his insides felt like they turning to water. Did he hear Val on the other end of the chat? He would be in deep trouble if his father even suspected it was her. What happened in her room` just before the connection dropped?

"Toby was just telling me how he and Ron were giving those nuts at the school a hard time. You know how they are." Teddy crossed his fingers, hoping he was giving a good enough reason for making an outburst, and that it would account for whatever sounds his father might have heard.

"That's it huh?" His dad seemed appeased at the answer. "You would do good to hang out with Toby and Ron. They know how to respect the family, and put that family... those goobers... in their place."

Teddy had to stop himself from defending Val's family. They really didn't like that "G-word" as Val had so recently told him. Instead he asked, "Papa, can I ask you a question?"

"Sure son," came the response, "If you're lucky I might even have an answer for you."

"How come the Cocoa's and the Hypogeo's don't get along?" was Teddy's question.

"They just don't" Mr Cocoa stated flattly. "It was this way when I was your age, and it probably was when your granddad was your age."

"But papa, didn't grandpap come to this country when he was married to gramma?" Teddy hoped it didn't seem like he was correcting his dad.

"That's right. He come here with nothing, and built his business." Mr Cocoa recited the well known family history. "He had nothing, but his contacts from back in the old country. He started his import business, and worked hard to bring more of the Cocoa's over, and put them to work. And whadda those goobers do? Always looking down their noses at us. Always trying to slander. All because they got here first. They sit in their big houses, and try to say we're no good, and wanting to steal their money. Listen to me son, no Cocoa ever took nothing from nobody. All we have, we hadda work hard for. Goobers! All they do is tell lies!"

"So ever since grandpap came, there has been trouble." Teddy wanted to confirm, but he still couldn't bring himself to feel the same bigotry as both families felt toward each other.

"Let me tell you about your granpap." Mr Cocoa softened as his minds eye visited the old memories, and family saga. "He and your gramma came to this country with nothing, not even any kids yet. He had a suitcase full of samples from the old country, and showed it to anybody he could, and took orders for products he didn't have. But he knew enough people from the old country who could send him their goods as fast as they could make them. While he waited for his first shipments to come, he didn't have money. He had to stay at the train depot. Do you know what the trouble was?"

"The trains keeping them awake at night?" Teddy knew it was a lame guess, but he had never heard this story about his grandparents before.

"No, that would have been the easy part," Mr Cocoa continued, "The depot closed at 10 O'Clock. There was no trains. That also meant they locked the doors at 10 O'Clock."

Mr Cocoa paused for affect, and inviting more response from Teddy. "Did they get locked inside at night? Didn't the depot have a rest room? Is that the trouble they had?"

"Good guess," laughed Mr Cocoa. "There was a bathroom. But the security guards kicked them out. They could be there in the day... and even sleep if they could with all the crowds of people... but they had to leave at night."

"What did they do?" Wondered Teddy.

"What could they do?" Was the rhetorical response. "That first night, they slept right on the front steps of the depot, They knew they couldn't keep sleeping outside like that. Grandpap made his sales all day while gramma tried to find enough food with some of the sales money. They slept in the afternoon, and when the depot closed up, they took long walks to see the city."

"They did that every night?" Marveled Teddy. "What about rain, or bad weather?"

"Well, when you don't have, you do the best you can with what you do have." Was Mr Cocoa's advice. "Nobody ever said their new life was comfortable, or easy. They had to bathe and wash out clothes in the depot's bathroom sink. They had their moments where they couldn't stand to look at each other and fought. They had to send most of their new money back home to pay for the orders, but just about the time they could scratch up enough money for a tiny boarding house room, orders began coming in. Customers loved the products, and there was no stopping your grandpap in his new import business.

"I never knew that about him. Thanks papa.' said Teddy with a yawn.

"Hey, get some sleep Teddy,
Mr Cocoa said with a pat on the shoulder. "You come from a good family. Remember that, and don't bring shame to it no matter where you go, or what you do.

"Goodnight papa," said Teddy as he climbed back under the covers.

"Goodnight son," said Mr Cocoa as he quietly shut the door, and walked down the hall to his own room. Teddy thought he heard his father's voice add, "You're a good boy. I just wish you wouldn't call that little goober girl so late at night,, or any time."

Teddy and Val, Act 1

January 31st, 2018

A Valentine's Day Love Tragedy (in 3 acts)

Slipping into her favorite, comfortable pajamas, Val rested on her bed, with her back against her pile of pillows and menagerie of stuffed critters. She scooped up her tablet, and swiped through her messages. Photos were posted. Friends were tagged. Likes, silly comments. 'I can't believe the Runner boys actually tried climbimbing the wall so close to the kitchen.' Thought Val. 'Don't they know they could have slipped and landed in one of the roasters? Those crazy nuts! It's goobers like them that give the rest of us the kind of bad name that mama and pop try so hard to defend. '

More images flipped across her screen. There wasMaggie, and Gabs doing their little dance. They were actually from Oklahoma, but to be around them, you'd think they thought they were from Spain. Always doing that clattering dance with the castanets.

Another few swipes, and Val glanced at her calendar for the next few days. School... detention on Thursday... 'Ugh! How will I break that one to mama,' she thought. Drama meeting, and dance class on Saturday... 'What a boring life,' Val almost said out loud.


It was an alert for a live chat. Were her other friends still up this late? 'Should I risk it? Where did I put my ear buds?' were among Val's racing thoughts as she gave the on screen accept button a tap. The image on the alert message register in her brain at the instant her finger touched the screen. In the same instant her emotions both crashed and soared, 'It's him!' But the thought of what her mother would do if she caught her was crowded out, as her eyes widened at his image gazing back at her.

She felt her heart go all a flutter, as he spoke.

"Hi Val, I hope it's not too late to call." Teddy said in those silky sweet tones.

"Shhh. I'm up, but we can't wake up mother." Val cautioned, and snuggled deep into her animals and pillows. She snapped in her ear bud, leaving one out as a precaution, and tossing the blankets over her. .

"I know what you mean," Teddy said, " I had an argument with my old man over you when I got home." Adding some depth to his always sultry voice, he impersonated the gruff tone of his father, "No son of mine is going to rake the good name and reputation of the Cocoa family through the muck! Just because you want to be seen hanging out with that goober girl!"

"Teddy!" Val was shocked at the slanderous remark directed towards her family. He saw her shock too late. "I'm sorryVal. I was just repeating what I had to go through."

"Never use that G-word around me again." Val warned, only slightly aware that she and her friends used it around each other all the time.

"I promise Val." Teddy's words were as sincere as he could make them. "Will you forgive me?"

"O Teddy, of course I will," she corrected herself, "I mean, I do. I do forgive you. Why do our families hate each other so much. They both say the same kinds of things about the other."

"I know what you mean." Teddy agreed. "All that fuss about family names, reputations, and shame that will be the undoing of a..."

"A grand and glorious heritage," Val finished for him in her best pompous voice just the way she has heard her mother say it countless times, then with a giggle that she had to stifle for fear it might wake someone. "After a quick check to make sure all was still clear, she continued as she gazed dreamily into her tablet screen, "I wish we didn't have to hide, and tell people that nothing happened."

"Nothing has happened," Teddy replied as he returned her gaze to her from the other side of her screen. His complexion so clear and absolutely scrumptious to her.

"I know it, but I wish we could be together all the time." Val clarified. "No having to go home to our different houses..."

"No hiding under the covers when we want to talk." Teddy finished for her.

"Yeah, hiding under..." Val stopped herself then added, "Hey, wait! How did you know I was hiding under my covers?"

"You are?" Teddy was genuine in his surprise. "I was talking about me."

Val couldn't contain her giggles, "You're hiding under your covers too? I'll bet you're not wearing fuzzy pink jammies with little bunnies and daisies on them." Their laughter took them to heights that soared over the rainbows, and to the highest mountain peak.

Their fantasy world came to a crashing halt with the sound of her mother's voice.

"Val? What do you think you are doing?" Mrs Hypogeo started timidly. Then realizing who her little girl was chatting with, the shriek came, "VAL!" Things were a blur as the blanket was laid back, the tablet ripped from Val's grasp[ and thrown to the wall with the sound of crunching glass.

First Family Frustrations

January 25th, 2018

The first time I found out my sweet, little, brown eyed, brown haired bride might not be so happy in the marriage as me. It was in the course of a Sunday school class, the teacher tried to make a point by sharing the results of a poll. Instead of just making a statement, she asked the class the question to see how we compared to the national finding.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how satisfied are you overall in your marriage.?

Nearly all the guys gave it a 9 or 10. Not a single woman gave it more than 4, and when she saw that most claimed only 2 or 3, and even a 1... she lowered her score.

The teacher was taken aback for a moment that the Christian adults in her little class would score so divergent, yet clear cut between men and women. certainly the moral fiber of a group of nice Christians ought to do better than the general secular population. The what was the result of this national poll? Pretty much the same.

I can't even remember what the lesson of the day was about. Just that result. How could my bride score our marriage so low on the scale? How could I be so totally unaware?

differing expectations are the reason. Guys don't expect a lot. They work. They come home. If the house is generally kept, and there's food to eat, that's about it. They appreciate the added niceties that a feminine touch brings. Decorations on the walls, stylish furnishings. A place that smells nice, and not like the aroma of a dorm filled with sweat socks. Then of course, girls are soft, smell nice, and interesting in the bedroom.

Ladies on the other hand go into it with lots of expectations, right from the wedding day. The perfect dress, the perfect reception, the guy they've been dreaming about all those years of playing house, and the romantic life they'll lead once Prince Charming tends to their every need to complete them. A guy who automatically knows what they want and need as well as she does. Someone who will be there to share equally in the housework, and understand her moods.

All this is news to a guy. Sure, he has lived alone. Maybe he can handle his own housekeeping, but usually barely enough to get by. As long as the clothes are washed, who cares if they're sorted. Cooking means knowing how long to set the microwave for popcorn, or how to toast pop tarts. The nuance of having it smell clean is lost, as long as a broom is dragged across the floor. Guys have spent their lives playing ball and getting sweaty, not playing house. They need retraining. There's a whole host of girl things that come as a shock to them. They don't know that they don't know.

It's frustrating to do the retraining. Often the woman takes up the slack. Doing the drudge work that falls on her when her guy doesn't know. Some guys are more resistant to bother to learn. A matter that complicates female frustrations. Others would be willing to learn, but when the wife doesn't tell them, they continue on their course of not knowing.

Should he try to be the pretty pink princess girlfriend to make the woman's life ideal? No, if you wanted to marry a woman you should have. These days its legal, but assuming the typical, traditional marriage, that's not an option. Women need to be women, and men need to be men. It doesn't mean they shouldn't try to bend for the sake of the other. There are lots of rough, or sharp edges that need to be worn away.

There's nothing wrong with doing your own thing, being your own person, having your expectations. Find complimentary things where the other person "completes" you, and enjoy them. Other opposing areas may be those things that cause opposites to attract. They make life interesting, but can be the source of conflict. Having conflict isn't bad, but use those areas to at least understand the other person if a compromise can't be arrived at. Agree to disagree. For any area you feel they are dropping the ball, think of the many things they do well, or take initiative in doing. Try that ageless exercise in counting your blessings. Focus on the good things they bring to the relationship.

Is the sadness, or drudgery still there? Before resigning yourself to carrying a personal burden of dissatisfaction alone, and in the silence of neglect, tell the other person. What would it take to at least partly relieve the situation? Is your spouse simply incapable of rising to the need? Then there will always be some measure of hope. Until then, keep counting the blessings they bring in other areas. It's an ongoing thing. The incident wasn't my only time in realizing all was not happy in our ever after, just the first indication for me.

Personal Eulogy

January 18th, 2018

First, let me explain. I'm in as good of health as can be expected. over recent years and months, an increasing number of family and friends have been passing away. I told Robin about this idea for what I would like to say at my own funeral, but I kept balking at writing it down. Well, here it is.

Make it into a sign to display as people come around for one last look at me. Print it up as a handbill, or even read it out loud in the service. who knows, maybe I'll record a version of it to live on in posterity to be shared in my absence.


Sorry i couldn’t be there for your gathering. Too bad it takes something like this to bring so many of us together.

You probably know i haven’t been doing so well lately. It got pretty bad there for a little bit, then i had to leave you. Trust me. Ever since that moment, I’ve never felt better... ever. It was a little confusing at first, but all my senses are sharper than i ever remember them. I have a new home now. Sorry I don't have a forwarding address to give you, but it isn't as far away from you as you might think. This new place and new body are unbelievable. There’s no words i can use to describe the feeling of peace and love over here, or how beautiful it is in my new home.

If there was a way i could be there with you today, i would, but I don't think it's allowed. plus, it might be a little awkward. But you need to know, I've been having a great time getting to see family and friends who left before I did. don't cry over me.

I’m serious, you just can’t imagine this new body, or how incredible I’m feeling right now, so stop crying over me, I mean it, unless those are happy tears.

I know that the body i left behind is old and broken. Do with it as you wish. Spend lots of money to dress it up, drop it in a box, and cover it up in the ground. Or you can be more practical, and cremate it to ashes, and dispose of it. It doesn’t matter. It’s not me, so don’t cling to it. I’ve been having so much fun over here. I’d love to bring you all with me so we could enjoy this party together, but there’s no rush. You only get one go round in your life, and you all still have time to make the most out of yours as you can.

We’ll meet again, and it won’t be long. No matter if it takes another 10, 20, 50 years or more, it won’t be long. Time is short, and runs out faster than you expect.

I should say this to clarify though, for those of you who know in your heart there is a God, and that Jesus was sent to pay for your sin, I’ll see you again shortly.

For those who are here who have heard of God, and his way to buy each one of us back from sin, and know it in your head, it’s time to take it to heart. It takes more than just knowing about God, it takes wanting to be like him, and live with his spirit in your life. In a word, obey when he calls. If he has your attention, he's calling you.

It’s the plan that has been foreknown since the beginning. The price that buys us out of rebellion and sin. The call is for all who hear it. If you’re listening today to these words, or reading them if you have a print copy of this... that means you have the chance to join me now. Well, OK, not that you'll be joining me right now, but when it's your time, I'd really love to see you here.

Let this seed of faith take root in your heart. Do you want to believe, but can’t? Do you want to believe, but aren’t sure how? Do you want to believe, but don’t know if you’re doing it right? The Holy Spirit is standing by for all who want him to do his work in you. Just let him.

Do you still think this whole Jesus thing is silly? Do you still think that there's nothing to God, or that his kind of heaven is to unreasonable or far fetched? That's your choice. But don't keep making that choice. It's a regrettable one. But if after taking all the evidence of the word that God has left for you in his bible, and in the lives of his people who are around you, you keep choosing to stay far from him, he'll let you. Your decision is your own, and the responsibility will be entirely yours.

Jesus still paid your price though. All that’s left is the Choice you make. are you breathing? it's not too late.

I’d love to see you again, but all i can do is encourage you to be here once it’s your time.

I’m not kidding. This place is awesome. I'm still getting checked in, so I don't have time to leave more words for you. I wish I could be there with you, but honestly, I'm glad I'm here. Keep seeking for Jesus. If you know him, keep seeking ways to become more like him.

Gotta go! Cool! More new stuff!

Waterlogged Wedding Night

January 8th, 2018

The events leading up to our wedding, the ceremony, and even the reception went as well as can be expected. We were married on November 21, 1981, at 2PM. Afterwards, we had a small reception with only a few of our closest friends and family. We aren't much for big parties anyway. The festivities were over with plenty of time to make the drive to our rental house before it got too late in the evening. .

In late November the weather was getting cool enough for winter coats. We pulled into the driveway just after the evening sun had set. We had only been gone a couple days for the wedding, and preparations leading up to it. Neither of us thought about how cold it had become. It wasn't icy or anything, but we didn't know how well the house was insulated. Actually, how well it wasn't insulated.

We debated whether we should do the traditional thing of carrying the bride over the threshold. Robin had already been living in the place for a month, but this would be our first time in the house together. Sure, why not?

Let me play out the events that unfolded in slow motion.

We stood on the porch, and I unlocked the door, and opened it. I lifted my bride into my arms. Being careful not to bump a head on the door post, or drop her, I stepped through the door, trying to decide whether to show off, and carry her all the way to the bed room, or just stand her on her feet in the living room, my decision was made for me pretty quickly.

"Put me down! Put me down!" she cried out.

My first thought was that Robin figured she was too heavy for me to carry around very far. As her feet hit the ground running, heading straight for what I thought was the bed room, happy thoughts sprang to mind as I reached behind me to close the front door.

Then I realized it wasn't our bedroom that was her goal. Robin ran past it, and to the back door.

"Don't you hear that?" she called over her shoulder, reaching the door in the kitchen that led down stairs to a landing. From there you could exit to the back yard, or turn to continue to the basement.

I didn't hear anything out of the ordinary. Not until I took a few steps. It was the sound of rushing water. By the time I got to the back door, Robin had already shouted the news. A pipe had frozen and burst.

How bad could it be? How long had the pipe been pouring water into the basement?

Fortunately we had both been in the house enough, we knew exactly where the shut off valve was located. It was just at the bottom of the steps, in the overhead joists. Even on the bottom step, not standing on the basement floor, the water was 3 feet deep.

I got the water turned off, and it was time to assess the damage. Neither of us had enough household goods to store in the basement. The biggest thing that concerned Robin was the deep freeze. In the darkened basement, I could see it floating on our indoor lake.

With the flood, the pilot lights to the furnace, and hot water heaters were out. How were we going to get this pumped out? If it weren't for the need for heat, we could consider just letting it drain slowly through floor drains, if there were any, or if it would drain at all.

Fortunately, our neighbor was our landlady's son. He had an industrial strength sump pump, and told us that he'd get the water pumped out for us, and to go out to eat somewhere. By the time we got back, he would have it all done. Being early enough, we went to a local steak house for our first dinner together. With the thought of a basement full of water, it wasn't particularly romantic. We just talked, wondering how to deal with the watery mess at home.

Things didn't go entirely well once we got home. The water was gone, but the furnace and water heater were too water logged to get working. Fortunately we did think to pack some of our wedding gifts in the car. An electric blanket, and a crock pot being the most handy.

Once the damage was repaired as much as possible, we spent the next couple weeks keeping warm together under that electric blanket, with quilts piled high on top. You aren't supposed to do that, but we were careful to keep an eye on the settings.

The crock pot came in handy as a miniature hot water heater. It was kept in the bathroom, on the countertop, to use for washing up at the sink. For the kitchen, water could be more easily heated on the stove to use for washing dishes.

Within the month, probably about a week or so later, the heat was restored. We only lived there for the following month, maybe to the end of January, but due to other changes in jobs and schooling, it wasn't going to be somewhere to stay for long.

With all the water that was piped in for the flood, we worked out an arrangement with the water company, and the landlady to whittle the expense down, and get it paid off before we moved.

Through the years, especially if we've just moved to a place, when our anniversary rolls around, we joke that we ought to knock a hole in a water pipe, so we can snuggle under the covers, without heat or hot water. Just for a little while, but certainly not to fill the basement, or actually put out any pilot lights.

Baby Names – Nathan Part 4of4

December 30th, 2017

Baby names, the finale. Read the previous articles in the series for the full account of how our kids got their names.

After having three kids, all boys, I had reached my limit on how many children I thought would be appropriate for our little family. Not to mention, I had just left active duty in the military, and was trying to carve out my niche in the civilian world with boys ranging in age from 2, 4, and 5 years old. I joined the National Guard, to keep my foot in the door of the military, and as it turned out, to provide an occasional boost to my income over the next few years. Without a regular job, and no health insurance just yet, the thought of another baby was out of the question.

While I waited for a slot in the next training school for my new, Air Force National Guard military occupation, I managed to make a little money as an ice cream truck driver. Trust me, the pay sucks, the hours are long, but it is still my most favorite job ever. You're a rock star with all the Kidds, everybody knows the ice cream man, and kids come running out of the woodwork at the sound of the ice cream bell. The celebrity status is only secondary to Santa Claus, and you never have to hide behind a red suit or beard. Of course, outside your truck, you have the anonymity of Clark Kent, and your secret identity means your private life is all your own. But I digress from my saga of baby names.

So, amid being grossly underpaid, and with few prospects, and waiting for a year long school to come my way to interrupt any job I might find anyway, Robin started showing the telltale signs of a woman with child. She vehemently denied it, but went to see her doctor, and the news was confirmed. Fast forward a little, and I get my orders to report to begin my training. We calculate the number of months before child #4 is to arrive, and it falls smack dab in the middle of my school term. How cool is that? The family can move to the base, since I'll be activated, and be on base for so long. We get full benefits to the base facilities, including the hospital. Though the kid in later years might like to claim he was an accident, we have to point out that an accident is what happens when parents aren't married when the unexpected event happens. He was a surprise. Not only that, but a surprise who happened to have the impeccable timing to be born at the most convenient time, regarding to employment and benefits.

His entire situation was nothing short of a gift... hence his name... Nathan. Continuing our bible themed names, we tried out a few possibilities, and thought Daniel gave a nice addition, and nice ring to his name. After my nicknaming of the previous kids, Robin insisted, "You are not going to give this kid a stupid nickname like all the others." What? Me? Why mother, I don't know what you're talking about! None of my beloved children have anything but well thought out names, and nicknames. There's nothing stupid about them.

Out loud I said, "That's fine. This one is all yours to give a nickname as you see fit. I just don't feel inspired to extend a prophetic name to him, as I've done in the past."

Right up to the day he was born, I remained clueless on any kind of nickname for him. Within hours of being born, I was in the hospital room, mom was cradling the newborn, and a nurse entered to take some routine statistics or other. I have to admit, she was an attractive young nurse... and apparently Nathan thought so too. The instant she crossed the threshold of the room, he looked up at her, tracked her movement across the room to glance at the charts, move to the bedside to make note of some new vital statistic to record, and leave. The whole time, he never took his eyes off her. I still wasn't inspired to come up with a nickname for the kid, but somehow I knew the moment was prophetic. It was.

The kid had a knack for wrapping womenfolk around his little finger as he grew up. Little old church ladies would offer him candy because he was just so cute. Despite Robin warning them off. Somehow he would come home with the forbidden goodies in his pockets, and a cheesy grin on his face in rendering the power of mom useless.

Robin somehow came up with the name, Nater Tater. Which morphed into variations. Nate Tate. Tater Tot, TT, or just T, or Mr T. (No relation, or resemblance to the star of the well known TV series, the A-Team... I pity the foo' who thinks so!)

I tried my hand at it with a tough sounding name. Nate the Snake. It just didn't fit. Skunk Face? Hey, the skunk in Bambi is a cute little critter... but no, it didn't fit either. Besides, by the time I thought of it, he was old enough to toddle around, and gave me one of those classic, little kid eye rolls, with an exasperated, "dad. Don't call me that." I didn't do it anymore.

I know this isn't a long article, but there isn't much else to tell in the naming story of Nathan. Combined with the full story of "The Brothers" as they collectively became known, the whole saga is a bit too long for one article to handle, but if you haven't already done so... go back and read the other articles for the complete story.

Baby Names – David Part 3of4

December 29th, 2017

Yet another chapter in the saga of choosing baby names. To get caught up to speed, read the previous articles on baby names.

With 2 sons, I was content to stop;, and just raise my little family. There's 14 months between the two boys. But after 2 years or so from the birth of son #2, another birth was in store for us. By this time I was on my second enlistment with the Marines, and stationed overseas in Panama. Given the exotic location, and hooping for a girl this time, we planned on the arrival of little Dominique Noel.

Instead, we found out we were to be blessed by another little boy. Turning to the pages of the Bible, because by this time we thought that would be our theme for baby names. David was a name we both liked, and there wasn't any family members with the name, other than a cousin who lived in a different state than our home of record. Little did we know that Robin's sister was about to marry a David, and others would creep into the family over time, as would other Michaels, and Christophers.

For a middle name, we landed on Isaac. I don't remember the reasoning behind it, but whether it was a foretelling of his personality or not, we liked the idea of what it meant. Davidmeans beloved, and Isaac means man who laughs. It turned out to be prophetic, even if he may disagree.

During Robin's pregnancy for the first two sons, her belly swelled up, nice, and round, and smooth. Babies are naturally active, and prone to kick, and move around, but generally mommy's tummy doesn't show many outward signs of the activity . Not so with kid #3.

The little bundle of joy was very active from early on. Kicks could not just be felt if you put a hand on the belly, but if too much pressure was applied, and it didn't take a lot, a hard return kick could make your hand jump. Just think of what that means for mom. As the little guy grew, and room inside got less, the kid would push, and stretch. Sometimes you almost expected to see a little face outlined on the outside of mom's tummy... or the image of a butt crack looking at you. Little, misshapen lumps frequently appeared, and the kid would suddenly shift to one side or the other. Robin already walks with a slight limp and waddle, due to back and hip trouble. When large with child, the waddle is increased as a natural result from the growing bulge in front. Add to that even further, a kid who insists on clinging to one side, poking her belly out noticeably further on that side than the other.

With all the prenatal gymnastics, and constantly rearranged lumps on mom's belly, I told Robin, "I know you don't like my choices for nicknames, but it's a good thing this kid is a boy. Otherwise it would be weird to call a girl Lumpy."

"You can't call him that," she protested. "that's not a nice name."

"What's wrong with it?" I asked.

"I don't want any child of mine named Spud." She said.

"Spud?" I confirmed. "Sure thing, I promise I won't call him Spud."

Months pass with me intermittently referring to the kid as Lumpy, and my bride saying I can't call him Spud. The day came and son #3 was born. I was surprised that his little baby muscles were pretty well defined, and buff. But what else did you expect from a kid who just spent most of the past nine months using mom's insides for his personal gym?

"That does it," I said, "this kid is definitely going to be called..." Robin cut me off, "You are not going to name him Spud, or Potato Head, or anything like that."

I couldn't help laughing. "I never said anything about Potato Head, but that's funny. Fine, on his birth certificate, he'll be named David Isaac, but to me he's going to be Lumpy Spud Potato Head."

"No," Robin protested. "You promised me you wouldn't name him Spud..."

"I never had plans on calling him Spud, and I never said anything about Potato Head... until now." I said. "That part was all your doing."

I think that Robin thought a name like Lumpy was kind of frumpy, or maybe belonged to the kind of a kid who was chubby, and built like a sack of potatoes. I get that, but Lumpy describes who the kid was while inside her tummy, and his little, lumpy muscles when he was born. Spud, and Potato Head was just a couple of unfortunate add ons. I don't know where Robin got them, but it really was her who kept bringing those names up... not me.

Ever since that day, the kid has been any thing but frumpy or chubby. He was the fastest runner in his grade school classes. He has always been buff and thin.

But that's the story of how we came to have a kid named Lumpy Spud Potato Head David Isaac. By far the kid with the biggest name ever in the family, and the smallest of his brothers once they reached adulthood. Mike is a little shorter, but lets just say, a bit more robust.

Baby Names – Michael Part 2of4

December 28th, 2017

Another installment in the saga of how our kids got their names.

I wrote earlier how our #1 son got his name, nickname, and even an alternate nickname that followed him through his childhood years. When our second child was on the way, the ordeal began again. Not sure whether he would be a boy or girl, his name could have been Amber Ashley, but as it turned out, he didn't qualify for a name like that, and besides, my sister found out about the name and staked her claim on it for her second daughter, only she reversed it to Ashley Amber.

We settled on Michael pretty quickly, but couldn't come up with a middle name. Should we name him after a grandparent? Come up with something that complimented his name? With such a common name as Michael, maybe we should tag him with a middle name that was unique, but not the kind that's going to start any playground fights, should he want to go by it instead.

When son #1 was born, Robin already made it plain she didn't want a Keith Jr running around. I honestly can't remember any of the Alternatives we choose for Michael's middle name, but it would definitely not be either Keith, or Eric.

As the time for the due date rolled around, i was facing a change of duty stations, and the race was on. My travel date was set. My date to report in was set. The thing that wasn't set in stone was the date the baby was to be born.

Would he arrive before the movers came to pack our household goods for shipments? No.

Would he come before my leave was up, and shorten our stay in the base Hospitality House? No.

Time was running out fast.

I calculated the travel agenda to get me to my next duty station. I needed to drive #1 son to stay with grandparents, then make a return drive to the East coast where the car would be shipped from Charleston, SC. From there, I would hop a flight from the local air base.

Still no kid. I had to go, and so Robin moved off base to stay with friends and wait for the baby to decide to emerge.

It turned out the kid arrived about the time my flight was to lift off. I wouldn't find this out for another 3 days. For the next few months, all I saw or heard from the kid was those initial baby pictures, and his little baby cries in the background, when making long distance calls. From all Indications, he looked like a Butch. A name I knew Robin was adverse to, but I knew it was going to be his nickname. Besides, Robin gave him his middle name, even though I thought we had decided against using my name. Michael's middle name was Keith.

Robin told me she had second thoughts, and figured she'd give him my name after all. "What? No Keith Jr?" I probably asked. I suppose it would have been too much to ask. Plus we'd have two sons with the same middle name. We had already settled on the name Michael, so I guess that was enough to ask.

Time marched on and little Moose and Butch were filled with animosity towards each other from the beginning. Well, not so much from Mike to Chris, he was good with life, his big brother, and rising to the challenge to do more than kids his age were supposed to be able to do. Butch was a good nickname, even if Robin still wasn't keen on it.

I think Moose was a little resentful that he wasn't an only child any more. For the story on Moose, refer to the earlier article: Baby Names - Christopher Part 1of4.

But wait, there's more in the way of nicknames. Just as with Chris, Michael ended up with an extra nickname.

It was dinner time. The kids were playing in the sand box in the park behind our base housing. I called out, "Chris! Mike! Time to eat!" Nothing. I tried again, "Moose! Butch! Come inside, its time to eat!" Nothing. Remembering my other nickname for Chris, I tried again, "Hey you!" Mike looked up. "Don't you know your names? Your brother's name is Hey You... you're 'No the Other One' now both of you get in here."

Thus was born the name and nick names of #2 son. Michael Keith, or Butch, or No the Other One.

Baby Names – Christopher Part 1of4

December 27th, 2017

Note: Before I get started, I want to say that I wrote a series of articles quite some time ago about how we named our kids, but after doing an online search of the site, I couldn't find it. What follows, and following articles, is a rough recreation of that original series.

One of the benefits, probably the single best benefit of being a parent is naming rights. The name you give that little bundle of joy that you've just created with your spouse will stick with them forever. It's going to be how they are known for life, so choose wisely.

Names have meanings, and you want that child to have the perfect name. A unique name, setting them apart from other kids. A name that's descriptive of their personality. A name that everyone will be proud of carrying, and referring to for posterity.

The trouble is that almost every kid, at some time or other, reaches a point where they hate their name, even if it's a cool, well thought out name. "Why did you name me that?" They may ask with a disgusted eye roll. Maybe it's a common name like John, or Bob, or Bill, a name that a lot of kids are named. Maybe the reason was so they could blend into the crowd. Maybe the name is a rare find, unearthed from the deepest, darkest bowels of a baby naming book. But a kid named Wolfgang, or Griselda might end up in a lot of playground fights. The same could be said for family names like, Throckmorton or Lucretia.

With our own kids, I kind of wanted to have a son named after me, but Robin didn't like the idea of a Keith Jr. She wanted each child to have a name that was theirs alone. Eventually, we settled on sharing my middle name when sone #1 was born. We thought a name from the Bible would do, but somehow Mephibosheth didn't set well. We wanted one that might project the kind of person we wanted him to be, a good Christian adult who would carry on the good ethic of Christ like living. A bearer of Christ, which is what Christopher means. The only person in the family with that name, or one like it was a female cousin. That being the case, we figured that we could keep them separated when talking about Chris in conversation. We figured with some of the trendy names of the time, there might not be too many boys in his grade with the same name, so Christopher Eric got his name.

Once he was born, or maybe it was during the last months of pregnancy, we were watching a movie where the tough guy in the story was named Butch. I commented to Robin, "that's pretty convenient that movies give characters names to suit them in the story. A tough guy named Butch, or a mild mannered guy named Wallace, or something. How did their parents know how their little 6 pound bundle would turn out 10 years later?"

" Her response, "You are not going to name our son Butch!"

"OK, I promise I won't name him Butch." But I thought it might make a good nickname..."

Robin's mental telepathy kicked in, and continued, "And you're not going to even nickname our son Butch!" How did she do that? How did she know what I was thinking.

I agreed, and Chris got another big,, manly, nickname... Moose. Robin was resistant at first, but eventually caved in. I just hoped the name didn't prove out to be an ironic one. I could fore see a scrawny little kid in a middle school gym class with the monicker Moose. A far cry from the star of the sporting fields. Fast forward to the future, and Chris may not have ever been a sports star, but he's a pretty tall guy.

There was a slight problem with this kid though. Chris didn't seem to want to respond to his name, or nickname wall the time. Granted, some of that had to do with the need for tubes in his ears for proper drainage, and fighting off ear infections.

One day, he was playing with a house plant. Robin was in the kitchen, and warned me to keep an eye on the baby. "Don't let him play with the plant. She said.

Just then I looked up to see little fingers reach for the plant. "Chris!" I admonished. "Get your hands off that!" What does a 1 year old know about not playing in the dirt... but he ignored me, being focused on the inviting flower pot. I tried again "Chris!" I called to him, but he didn't even look up from his mission. I tried again, this time switching to his nickname, "Moose! Stop; it!" Still no indication he heard me. Finally I called out, "Hey! You!" He stopped in his tracks, looked up at me, and grinned. Chris had a new nickname.

Most of the time, our Kidds were known, and called by their given names, but even today they still get called by their nicknames. Usually in fun, and in memory of those early days. For Chris, he has revealed in not only being known as Moose, but the Wild Moose.