🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩
BTE and Div 💍
Brother Greetings 👨👩👦👦
Travel Day ✈️
The morning after Boy The Elder was born, I awoke in the hospital to his sweet cooing and his momma’s deep-sleep breathing. Scooping him up carefully and holding him nervously, I sat in a rocking chair in the pre-dawn darkness and talked to my son as we waited for the sun to rise.
I don’t remember the exact words, but I remember telling him how thankful I was that he was here safely, that I promised to try my best to be the best daddy he could possibly imagine. By the time Wifey Poo awoke, he and I pretty much had the world figured out.
Saturday, I watched from about 20 feet away as BTE got down on one knee and asked his girlfriend of three years for her hand in marriage. I’m not sure how dads are supposed to feel in a moment like that, but I was awash in this mishmash of emotions as I watched Div, an amazing girl who is very, very good for my son, accept his proposal.
BTE has every reason to not be too fond of me. He’s seen and heard a lot in his life as I’ve dealt with the various obstacles on my path. I wish I could say that I lived up to my promise to be the best daddy he could possibly have, but he knows and I know that I haven’t. Yet there we were Saturday, celebrating this amazing occasion as a family.
I don’t remember the specific day on which I realized BTE was headed toward dating Div, but I do remember the situation. I had fallen asleep on the couch and was hauling my still half-asleep butt upstairs and to an actual bed at about 2 a.m. when I heard BTE’s voice from his bedroom. He was still in high school, and it was now an early Saturday morning.
I paused on the stairway landing and listened, my interest piqued by the fact that I heard a female voice responding to whatever enlightening thing BTE had to say at 2 a.m. There wasn’t a thought in my mind that BTE had an actual girl up in his room, though perhaps — considering he’s my son — the idea should have at least crossed my mind. I just figured he was talking to one of the people he know from his job at Chick-fil-A or his internship at church.
The next morning, I asked him about it. “Oh, that was just Div.”
Just Div? No one talks to “Just” anyone at 2 a.m. Certainly not a member of the opposite sex.
The next night, the same thing happened. I fell asleep on the couch (bad habit. I’ve broken it) and hauled my still half-asleep butt up to bed, and the same two voices welcomed me to the new floor. The morning after that, I told Wifey Poo, “Our boy is on the way to having a girlfriend.”
About a month later, it became official. As I said, no one talks to “just” anyone at 2 a.m., and certainly no one talks to “just” anyone regularly at 2 a.m.
I am beyond blessed that BTE included me not only in the big moment Saturday but in the planning that led to that moment. It was only about two months ago that BTE called me from Mizzou to talk to me about engagement ring shopping. I knew this moment was coming. He’d been dropping hints that things were headed that direction for a few months.
And honestly? I was so touched by the fact that he was reaching out to me … me, his old man … for advice, I cried when I got off the phone. Yes, I know I do that a lot. That he still thinks highly enough of me to include me in such an important event is something I will forever count as one of the biggest blessings in my life.
Shortly after the engagement ring talk, BTE came home from Mizzou for a weekend. He and I had been kicking around ideas for his engagement surprise. He wanted to do something special, something memorable, and he told me he had mad respect for how I asked his momma to marry me.
On that day, I created a scavenger hunt all across Des Moines, leading soon-to-be Wifey Poo from place to place to locations of memories of our dating life. At each stop, there was another clue to send her to a new location. Finally, those clues led a friend of soon-to-be Wifey Poo’s to drive her blindfolded to parts unknown to her. There, she stood blindfolded while I drove up. When the blindfold was taken off, she realized she was at the Roseman Bridge in Winterset, Iowa, and that her boyfriend was walking toward her. I put down a handkerchief on the dusty ground, got down on one knee and told her that this type of certainty comes but once in a lifetime. We were married a year and a half later.
Back to last month. After kicking ideas around for a while, BTE and I drove down to the Missouri Botanical Gardens in St. Louis. We were hunting for the perfect spot there for him to ask Div for her hand in marriage. “Dad, you’re the creative one. Help me,” he said.
We walked around, looking for the perfect spot, and then we saw the lake. It was beautiful and perfect, ringed by a walking path.
BTE’s front for this whole thing was that his really good friend Guy, who is co-owner of a marketing company along with his sister and who is a great photographer, would be taking fall pictures of Div and BTE. The plan was made. BTE and Div would break off from Guy and his sister and take a stroll around the lake. At different points, there would be gifts with memories of their three-year relationship. It would end up at a nice, private place where Guy and his sister would be waiting to capture the official moment.
And so it was that Wifey Poo, Boy The Younger and I were a part of BTE’s big day Saturday. We were the advance team, making sure the final spot where he would ask for her hand in marriage was set up and beautiful and ensuring that the gifts and notes were in the right places at the right time so they’d be there for Div to discover.
In the summer of 2024, there is going to be a wedding in this family. The Core Four is going to become … something more. Div is an amazing girl and I already consider her my daughter. She and I have many similarities. We’re feelers, emotional and have our flighty moments. She and BTE are amazing for each other. I said early on in their relationship how much the two of them remind me of two other crazy kids who fell in love and ultimately got engaged young (Wifey Poo and I were early in our senior years in college) and married young (Wifey Poo and I were both 22). I cannot be happier to see that my son, the little baby boy whom I held on my lap that first morning of his life, has found his Person. That’s a rare thing. That’s a blessing. They both know it.
Who knows what the world has waiting for them? Wifey Poo and I would never have believed the challenges we’d face as a couple, and I’m quite sure BTE and Div are just as naive as we were. What I’m quite sure of, though, from having seen their relationship evolve, from watching how it’s grown, from witnessing how they survived separation through a pandemic and as BTE went off to Mizzou for a year while Div took advantage of free community college back home, is that there is much joy ahead of them. They are good together.
And I am blessed to have a part of their big day.
It preparation for Saturday’s big events, BTE arrived home Friday night. BTY was on the computer in another room. BTE and I hugged, talked and then BTE headed back toward the bathroom, past where BTY was seated.
BTE: “What’s up, Dummy?”
BTY: “What up, Stupid?”
The love these two boys have for each other makes me so, so happy. Only two brothers who truly love each other greet each other like this. BTE was a little unsure of what life would be like when Wifey Poo and I told him we were having another child. The day after BTY was born, some relatives brought BTE, then seven, to the hospital to meet this new creation.
He walked into the room apprehensively. Then he saw his baby brother, plentiful hair sticking up all over the place, snuggly wrapped like a baby burrito. BTE sat down, and we placed BTY in his lap.
And that was it. All resistance BTE might have felt faded away. There was this look that said, “Yeah, you and I might have some problems, but you are as much my responsibility as you are Mom and Dad’s, so I got you, bro. I got you.”
And he has. Capped off by literally saving his life once with the Heimlich Maneuver, BTE has been an amazing big brother to BTY.
Which leads to greetings like what I heard Friday night being something special, something that made me smile.
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Alone Time, Girl Time 👩👧Picture Hanger🔨What Amazon Reveals 🚚 Wifey Poo and I found ourselves in an interesting position at home today for a little bit: Alone. Boy The Elder took off for Six Flags with his buds, and Boy The Younger left with a friend and his family (Chicken Owner,…Keep reading
Sunday was a travel day. Wifey Poo dropped me off this morning at Terminal 2 of Lambert International Airport in St. Louis, where I grabbed a flight along with about a dozen work colleagues to Ft. Lauderdale for a Monday through Thursday conference.
It’s been a minute since I’ve flown. I think the last time I was on an airplane was April 2019, to Savannah, Ga. Some things haven’t changed. We’re still taking our shoes off and being generally crabby, it seems. We’re still cramming impossible numbers of people into flying metal tubes. We’re still doing the same “put your mask on yourself before helping your child” thing.
The flight was fine. Descending into Ft. Lauderdale, you realize exactly how Florida is basically constructed on a swamp. I have a presentation to give Thursday morning. It’s on digital marketing. Until then, I’ll be doing random marketing things to help other presenters, and I hope to get some chill time to just sit on the beach and smoke a cigar.
Today’s Reasons to Keep Living
- Who’s going to give my presentation Thursday if I’m dead?
- Gotta be there for BTE’s wedding.
- Chicken wings.
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🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Why The Blahs? 😷Anniversary Plans 💍Unpleasant Warnings 🐍 Feeling blah is complicated when you have my medical history. For many people, feeling blah as I’m feeling right now is a clear indication that some sort of illness or infection has invaded the body. But for me — and for many others…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Dentist Visit 🦷Basketball Sucks 🏀Found Husband 👨 No one truly likes going to the dentist. I’ve had people push back on me when I’ve said this before, but when I lay out the following scenario, well, it’s pretty much checkmate: “You just had the most well-respected doctor in the world tell…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Dumb Gubment 🦅Dawg Party 🐶Flying African ✈️ We as modern Muricans tend to just accept that it’s the gubment’s job to educate our children. Of course, when other countries that aren’t our friends do that, we call it “indoctrination,” but that’s a topic for another day. The topic for today is…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Costly Mortality ☠️Crazies, Unite 🤪Defining ‘Appointment’ 🦷 I’m getting ready to die. Sounds ominous, right? Dramatic? Scary? It’s not. Oh yes, in a certain light, it’s depressing as hell. But what it really involved was a meeting with an attorney that Wifey Poo and I had yesterday to figure out exactly…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Books and Stories 📚SVB Lessons 🏦Basketball Party 🏀 Holy crap, you guys! I actually finished something I wrote! In fact, I finished two somethings I wrote! As my regular readers (hey you three!) know, I’ve been stunk in a funk of starting to write books and short stories with gusto and…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Podcast Appearance 🎙️The Birth Control Pill Story 🐶Good Tired 🥱 If you would have asked me a few years ago whether I could ever envision myself on a stage in the back room of a dive bar sharing a story about how my dog ate six months of birth control pills…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Pee Mate 🚽Game Maker 🎲Dumb Muricans 🦅 I have been thinking about death a lot lately, not because I’m particularly eager for it to happen or because I’m particularly not eager for it to happen. I guess it’s because I’m a few months shy of my 49th birthday and please-for-the-love-of-God let…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Dieudonne 🌍Hoops Win🏀Cornhole Roll ✔️ In 2021, during some of the darkest and most difficult times in our lives as individuals and couple, Wifey Poo and I did a thing. It was a big thing. It was a challenging thing. It was an amazing thing. But to say it was just…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩’Full Stop’ 🛑Needles 💉Business Lessons 🧑💼 Here’s something I learned about myself today: One way to ensure that I will debate you on a topic until I give my last breath or until you are huddled in a corner in a fetal position is to end the statement of your opinion…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Mindfulness 🧘Mullet Prez 👩🦳Murder Family 🔪 Our brains are amazing things. So adept are they at routines that they can essentially run on autopilot and let you do the everyday stuff like operating a multi-ton object advancing at 70+ mph among lots of other multi-top objects advancing at 70+ mph without…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Bloody Hell 💂Circus Moments 🤡Silence 🤫 OK, people: I’ve got a bone to pick with you. But first, a little digression. What in the bloody hell does that phrase mean? “A bone to pick with you?” That sounds absolutely disgusting. And if you’re wondering why I said “bloody hell,” well, that…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩24 Hour Video 😡Rubik’s Kid 🧊Dilbert Doofus 🤪 There are two things I cannot stand in the working world — and in life, in general. The first is people whose lack of preparedness turns ordinary stuff into emergencies. The second is when people criticize the result of something they previous approved.…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Mormon Billionaires 💰Bigger Packages 🍌Birds Really Aren’t Real 🐦 Can we just get on with blowing the tits off the world with nuclear weapons or something and end this stupid thing we call the human race? Yeah, I know that’s a little dramatic, but when I take a look at the…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Muricah The Evil 🦅You Buy You 💰Big-Ass Van 🚚 I find it rather humorous that Muricah warned China not to send arms to one side of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine … and that we issued this warning with a straight face. I’m quite sure most Muricahns believe their country…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Salve 🩹Car Wash 🚗💧Light Removal 🎄 I try not to venture too often into a Wal-Mart, especially on the weekend. I cling to slim hope for this nation as it is, and I find Wal-Mart trips do not help my grip. Alas, this weekend, Boy The Younger was under the weather…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩CC, BCC, FU 📧Basketball Poll 🏀Andy Rooney 🎙️ This week has largely been a Shit Week marred by Shit People. What are Shit People? They aren’t exactly easy to define, but one hallmark of a Shit Person is his rampant use of the CC function at work to passive-aggressively play power…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Chill Day 🛋️Busy Weekend ⚾Halftime 🏈 I’m not working today. Not only am I not working at my day job, I’m not doing any work for my side gig today. I’m not planning on doing much of anything, actually. And I don’t feel guilty about that. This weekend was insanely busy.…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Big Pharma Sucks 💊Work Rules 🧑💼Big Weekend 🏈 Spend any time in front of the television and you’ll see ads touting the latest drugs that you shouldn’t take if you’re allergic to and that you most definitely need to ask your doctor about. Now comes a study showing that the people…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Top 5 🎈Symphony 🎻Living Eulogies 💗 Top 5 things overheard in Missourah last week as a purported Chinese spy balloon made its way over the state en route to its rendezvous with an F22’s missile: Despite my high-brow upbringing in Suburbia, New York, I’m not what anyone would call A Symphony…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Space Walk 🧑🚀Bye-Bye Brady 🏈Failure Rate 🐿️ When Boy The Elder was just Boy and devoid of a younger brother, we had a nickname for him: Pokey Joe. BTE didn’t do anything fast, but more than anything, what he did incredibly slow was get out of a car. That would suck…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Raccoons 🦝February 💘Man Nips 🕺 Today I bring you the story of a raccoon who got his balls stuck to railroad tracks. But the reason you think I’m bringing you this story is not the reason I’m bringing you this story. You think I’m bringing the story of the raccoon Neil…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Tyre Nichols 😔Tattoo Day ✒️Nephew Hoops🏀 I was a white kid in suburbia, New York, in 1988 when the gangsta rap group N.W.A. came out with its album Straight Outta Compton, featuring the song Fuck Tha Police. It was scandalous, at the time, to suggest that the police would be anything…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Car Concert 🎵Sick Wife🤒People Suck 🖕 Within the 24 hours in the run-up to Snowpocalypse 2023, the estimates on the Weather Channel app for our snowfall total ranged from 1 to 10 inches. That’s like going to the doctor and being told you have anything from a splinter to terminal cancer.…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Mission: Failed 👎Ho 🤣Handy Family 👍 It has to suck to work at the Missouri Department of Transportation. Why? It took exactly 75 minutes for all of 2023 to be a failure. Let me explain. Those of you unfortunate enough to have been involved in any sort of corporate planning process…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Houston 🖊️Sad clown 🤡Taco Seasoning 🌮 Houston, Missourah, is not unlike a lot of other rural Missourah towns through which I’ve driven and bears a resemblance to the Small Town USA in which Boy The Elder did a lot of his early growing up and to which Boy The Younger came…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Definitions 📖Missing Bourbon 🥃Mysterious Knocks 😵 I generally abhor any writing that starts with, “Webster’s dictionary defines …” Webster’s dictionary defines “ceiling” as a noun meaning “the overhead inside lining of a room.” The implication is that it’s a limitation, a max, a point of demarcation between what’s out there and…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Sadness 😥Annoyance 😠Disappointment 😞 When Boy The Elder was Boy The Only in our home, he watched one of the Air Bud movies featuring a basketball-playing dog. Or maybe it was football. Or soccer. By the time that series was over, that dog had played them all. Anyway, whichever Air Bud…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Thor’s Blurry Hammer 🍆Pigeon Delivery 🕊️Idiot List 🤪 Thor is really, really good with his hammer. And by that, I mean that Thor the walrus in Scarborough, England, is really good at masturbating and ruining New Years Eve. If you haven’t heard about this story, stop reading stupid news like politics…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Bruising Basketball 🏀Poke ☝️Six?!? 🔫 I grew up in the NBA era of the Bad Boys Detroit Pistons while loving a New York Knicks team that was, to put it mildly, quite physical. Guys like Steph Curry and LeBron James can makes basketball seem like artistry these days, but give me…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩What There is Like! ⛅’Modern Policing’ 🚨Xylophone Time! 🎵 When you decide to talk about a time in which you truly believe you more-or-less died and saw what comes after this life, you have to be comfortable with the fact that people might think you’re nuts. Hell, talking about it on…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Grace Ashford! 📰Idaholy Shit! 🥔Story of the Year! 🍆 The three most influential people in my life as a journalist are, sadly, all part of the Great Newsroom in the Sky now. Professors Michael Perkins and Bob Woodward (AKA Bob Woodward-Not-That-Bob-Woodward) helped educate me at Drake University, and Lisa Warren was…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Poor Puppy 🐶Romeo and Juliet 🤴👸Meta Mistake 🙊 Disturbing news out of Washington, D.C., today as Republican Congressman-elect George Santos (if that’s his real name) brought a 6-month-old puppy to the house floor and screamed “Hey, look at me!” before slitting its throat and lapping up its squirting blood like a…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩A Pretty Good Rant 😠Tesla Plunge 🚗Missed Lasts 😥 Those of you who regularly read my drivel (I see you, DirtySciFiBuddah) might have become aware of the fact over the past year or so that I am not a huge fan of our world’s modern institutions. All of them might, in…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Incomplete 🕮Frustration 😠Bowl Bust 🏈 To say that I know how to write is like saying I know how to breathe. No one considers that they know how to breathe. They just … breathe. No one is particularly good at breathing or bad at breathing. Again, they just … breathe. I’ve…Keep reading
Welcome to Issue No. 15 of Listicles, the feature that presents the Top 10, Top 5, Top 3, Top 100 or Top 1,000,000 of whatever it is you want to know about. Email your Listicle suggestions to email@example.com. So last year, I had a list of 100 intentions for 2022, and I did fairly well,…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩2023 📅Helping 🧠The Universe 🔭 I’m not much for long-term plans and goals. This isn’t to suggest I don’t think they’re important. I just think that spending a lot of time on them is futile. What’s the saying? Man plans, God laughs. Something like that. Anyway, I’ve learned through experience that…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Chain Links 🔗”Work” 🧑💼Popular Toys 🧸 After my first son died in December 2000, I spent a lot of time wondering why. Why me? Why Wifey Poo? Why Jacob? Why this level of suffering in a world supposedly created and run by an all-loving, all-knowing, all-powerful God? So I did what…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Chiefs! 🏈Indy Tickets 🏎️Bank Visit 💰 When I bought the tickets to the Christmas Eve contest between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Seattle Seahawks as a gift for Boys The Elder & Younger, it was sometime in September and temps hovered around 90 degrees. The thought that the game might…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Timelines 👶Extinctions 🌋Sin City 👌 As I fall deeper down the rabbit hole learning more about theories on space and time, the concept of alternative timelines comes up again and again and again. Whether it’s the stuff of science fiction or one day will be proven to be the stuff of…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩’Cousin’ Laughs🎤Improv!?!? 🎭Drake Hoops 🏀 Back when I was a boy, I had a favorite Cousin-Who-Wasn’t-A-Cousin. His name was Joey DeVito, and he was in no way a blood relation to me, though I called his father Uncle Frankie and his mother Aunt Celia. I’m pretty sure this is an East…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Glazed 🍩Bingo! 🖥️Disappearing Christians ⛪ I didn’t intend to bring doughnuts for my co-workers yesterday morning. It just sorta happened. How it happened and how it played out is a window into my weird mind. First, an explanation: I have a card purchased from Boy The Younger that entitles me to…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩STL’s Homeless 😥Snake Hoo-Hoos 🐍That Was Epoch 👴 I found James huddled underneath a blanket as he sat, knees to his chest, head bowed, just outside the doorway of a CVS in the Delmar Loop section of St. Louis. If you’re not familiar with the area, it’s a fun place filled…Keep reading