🧩 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 🧩Weird Wound Treatment 🧂Phillies Bring Doom ⚾Meetings Suck 👎🏽 Apparently, I’ll take medical advice from waitresses and allow myself to receive medical treatment from busboys. This, I learned last night. I have a tendency to get hurt in really interesting ways. When I tell you that I once got a concussion…Keep reading
Welcome to Issue No. 8 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. No. 5: I held an epic car concert If you were anywhere in the vicinity of my…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Football Picking God 🏈Fish Story 🐟Free Floating ☁️ A few months before Boy The Elder was born, I had about $100 set aside to buy Wifey Poo a gift that I intended to give her after she ushered our child into the world. It was the least I could do for,…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩New Route Home 🏎️Confirmed Weirdness 🤪Here’s Your Sign 🤦 I took a new route home from the western part of Missourah yesterday after doing the whole open-house thing for work in St. Joseph. Rather than shoot down to I-70 and traverse the state on that familiar road, I went across Hwy.…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Woo-Woo vs. The Beast 🛻Dart Throwers 🎯My Job 📋 I am not used to driving a tank. My normal vehicle is Woo-Woo, AKA The Shitty Little Car, AKA a Nissan Versa. It’s practical. It gets great gas mileage. I hate it. Woo-Woo normally accelerates as quickly as a child asked to…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Unwitting Guinea Pigs 🐹False Bragging 🦹♂️Put Me In, Coach 🚀 My regular readers (hey, you three!) know that I have a hatred for social media’s influence on society with an intensity rivaled only by the heat of a thousand suns. The latest bit of “Are you fucking kidding me?” comes from…Keep reading
Welcome to Issue No. 7 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. No. 5: I reached out to a friend I have not been shy about sharing that I’ve…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩More Stupid Human Stuff 📱KC Trip ⚾Miserable Missourah 😠 Quick: Take a look around you. If you’re in a room with five other people, one of them thinks you’re financially struggling if you don’t have the latest iPhone. That’s according to a new survey following the release of the iPhone 14.…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Loser Species 👶Email Win 📧Dad Pride 👨👦👦 I’m pretty sure I’m not normal. Normal people respond to that statement with, “Oh, John, nobody’s normal,” which is just a sign for us non-normies that the person we’re talking to is normal. Yesterday, I was waiting for Wifey Poo to pick me up…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Concert Thoughts 🧠Marriage 💍Drunk Idiots 🧉 There’s this scene in the 2004 movie Garden State in which Sam (Natalie Portman) looks at Andrew (Zach Braff) and notices … … And yeah, that resonated with me then and resonates with me now. Ever since then, being “in it” has become a thing…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Sadness 😥Beautiful Skies ⛅Two Terms For 2022 ✌️ Back in our early days at Pound Ridge Elementary School, Sarah was the fastest girl runner in the class, which bought her some serious playground cred. There were only a few of us boys who could hang with Sarah in the 50-meter dash…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Ear Flushing👂Grunge God🎶Tech Guy📺 If you have to have a doctor tell you a body part or yours is small, I suppose one of the least offensive would be the ear canal. That’s what a doctor told me this morning, after I finally broke down and actually went to said doctor’s…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Toys in the Hall🪅Idiot Governors🗳️Flopping FedEx✈️ Last night in my hotel in Springfield, Missourah, I set out a glass of milk and a plate of cookies before going to bed. It’s not that I don’t know how to read a calendar or have any particular belief in a fat man in…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Which One?🗺️Leave Introverts Alone🤫Oxford Commas🤪 I’m on the road for work this week, in Springfield. Ahhh, but Springfield what? There currently are 35 populated places in the United States named Springfield, spread out over 25 states, including five in Wisconsin. In addition, there are 35 Springfield Townships, and Ohio owns 11…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Surrounded 😷Wood Splitter 🌲Morons 🤪 I’ve had COVID. Twice. The first time fucked up my life for a year. I’m still not back to the me I was before it came into my home, and I’m pretty sure that now, nearly two years later, that’s not going to change. The second…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Sunday audible🤒Fantasy Failure 🏈Anal Chess♟️ Sunday was supposed to be a romantic day spent in a canoe with Wifey Poo, the two of us paddling leisurely down the Meramec River. Mother Nature was not in the mood to play wingman and decided to pick the one day in the midst of…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Finish Line Scene 🏃♂️Baseball’s Better ⚾M-I-Z! Z-O-UC-H! 🏈 I have never understood the modern-day purpose of running for the sake of running. Sure, I understand it’s a great form of cardiovascular exercise and it’s a convenient way to get from Point A to Point B, yet the desire to strap on…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Book Guy 📚Queen Stuff 👑Bernard Shaw 📺 I’ve decided I want to own a copy of every Stephen King book ever written. That’s about 75 books at the moment. I have a built-in bookcase in my mancave/home office. I don’t think it would hold all 75 in hardcover, but perhaps it…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Beginnings 📚School Start 🚌Real Baseball ⚾ I was thinking this morning on my drive to work how we rarely know when the significant times in our lives begin. So frequently, the most important things that happen to us start with nothing noteworthy. Of course, there are exceptions, the “love-at-first-sight” moments or…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Fallin’ Thoughts 🤕Shinedown 🎸Sleepy 😴 The brain can be surprisingly efficient when the meatsack it’s attached to is in the middle of falling off a ladder while holding a revved-up chainsaw. This, I learned yesterday morning while attempting to saw a limb off a tree that was getting way too close…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Overview📅Fantasy Football🏈Elite Bonding🤼♂️ Days that start with chainsaws and lighter fluid and end with four hours of really good professional wrestling are bound to be added to the “good” column for review when the scales are weighed at the end of a life. Yesterday was such a day for me. In…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Funeral 😢Glimmers ☁️Meat 🥩 If you’re lucky, you’ve had a second mother. Whether your first mother was or is an amazing person who nurtured you and raised you among calm consistency or if she was lacking in certain maternal fundamentals, having a second mother is a blessing. Today, we were there…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩We’re Dumber 👎OnlyFans Thrives 🍑Shinedown 🎵 Official statistics put the COVID death toll in the United States at 1.04 million, with another 713 deaths yesterday. More than 4,000 people are in the ICU right now suffering from what the former Moron-in-Chief called that one person coming from China and a situation…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Dethroned Queen 👑Gravy Wrestling 🤼♂️Dog Talk 🐕 Don’t fuck with the Bucyrus Bratwurst Festival board. That’s a message Abigail Brocwell is learning the hard way. Brocwell was expected to be inaugurated as the queen of the festival in the northern Ohio town earlier this month, but she was stripped of the…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩3, Unassisted ⚾A Sad Day 📅Tracking Your Vagina 🌸 The last time Boy The Younger was on a baseball field, the “coach” of his team removed him from a game in the middle of an inning because I had privately messaged him to not attempt to steal home with my kid…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Hydrogen Issue 🚀Karting 🏎️Lake Life 😌 I was all excited to watch the launch of the moon-bound Artemis 1 rocket this morning, only to see the clock stopped at T-minus 40 minutes because of a “hydrogen issue.” Don’t know about you, but I’m thinking having an issue with hydrogen is a…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Karen in Control ⌚Karting 🏎️What podcast? 🎧 In the winter of 1993, I went to a comedy club with a friend and, in the spur of the moment, decided to be one of those who came forward to join the fun and be hypnotized. This was decidedly out of character for…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Little League Flap ⚾Grandpa Joe 🤦Psychedelics 🍄 Boys are interesting creatures who aren’t easily understood. One of the many, many weird things boys do is mercilessly make fun of their best friends. My closest friends in middle school and early in high school were affectionately nicknamed Goon, Tree Frog, Butt and…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩 Death Cometh Sooner 💀Twitter Security 🔓Game Over 🌑 Average life expectancy in the United States dropped in 2020 by almost two years in 2020, the biggest decline since World War II. Every state and the District of Columbia saw a drop. Guess it was a little bit more than that…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Worm brain 🧠Chicken Big Mac 🐔Eye Twitch 👁️ Caenorhabditis elegans is probably too elegant of a name for something that is really just a disgusting little worm about a millimeter long and most easily found in rotting fruit. It is more commonly known as a lab roundworm and was the first…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩The Agliata Homeschool Academy 🚌Hypnosis 😳Sunburn 🌞🔥 When you tell people you homeschool your children, you typically receive one of three responses: An enthusiastic: “Oh, that’s so cool!”An I’d-rather-be-dipped-in-acid: “Oh wow! I could never do that!” A you’re-one-of-those-weirdos: “Oh… really… homeschooling, huh?” The percentage for each has changed in the wake…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Indycar 🏎️Best Friends 😎Baseball Irony ⚾ There are certain people who look at car racing as an endless series of left turns. These people are idiots on whom nuance is lost. Boy The Elder and I crossed the border yesterday late-morning to head just past the fine city of East St.…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Swine Inflation 🐖Swamp Thing 🎥Phone Calls 📱 Life was different when I went to college in Iowa after growing up in suburban New York City. This isn’t to suggest I was a city kid. I wasn’t. The city was a place we went to a few times a year, and where…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Triple-Threat 🖥️🖥️🖥️Tasmanian Tiger 🐅Video Work 📹 Humans were not meant to stare at laptop screens. At least, humans of a certain age were not meant to stare at laptop screens. I say this after successfully lobbying for a second monitor at work, which effectively turned my laptop screen into a third…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Look Before Brewing ☕Hoop Construction 🏀Nuclear War ☢️ If you’d like an indication of how much of a Monday yesterday was for me, know that I ended up with an orange in my coffee. Well, to be fair, it wasn’t a full-blown orange. It was something called a Cutie, which is…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Weird Date 🪦Nature Walk🌳Bulldog Bath 🐶 If you have a date walking around a cemetery, you’re either weird or goth, and neither Wifey Poo nor I were wearing black today, which I guess tells you all you need to know about us. Old cemeteries are something of a fascination for us,…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩So Long, Kid 👨👦Steak Celebration🥩Chip & Joanna 🪚 Regular readers of my drivel know that I’m kind of an emotional guy, which is like saying that Jack kind of could have fit on the spacious floating door with Rose in Titanic. So it should come as no surprise when I say…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Cash 4 IRS 💰Cash 4 Workers 💸Sound of Silence 🤫 Be extra careful on your taxes this year. The IRS is expected to receive nearly $80 billion when The Inflation Reduction Act eventually becomes law, and its plan is to hire 87,000 full-time workers. More than half of the $80 billion…Keep reading