John: Oldies 104.3 WJMK, It’s 12 minutes after 6:00 with John Records Landecker and Vicki Truax. The hotline…the private line…is ringing. Hello.
Rick: I’m a papa.
(Loud cheering and whooping in the studio)
Vicki: A girl or a boy?
Rick: A boy.
Vicki: I KNEW IT!!! What’s his name?
Rick: Thomas Peter.
Vicki: What time?
Rick: 4:06 a.m.
John: Wow. How’s everybody doing?
Rick: Everyone is fine.
Vicki: Bridget is fine too? Is she exhausted?
Rick: Yup, she’s holding Thomas right now.
John & Vicki: Awwwww.
Rick: 7 pounds, 3 ounces.
John & Vicki: Awwwww.
Rick: And I recorded the entire thing on Digital audio tape.
Vicki: You’re kidding? She didn’t make you turn it off?
Rick: No. I had it put in a nice place where it didn’t get in anyone’s way.
John: We’ve got Thomas’ birth on tape.
Rick: Yup. And we got his first bath on tape too, and his first cry.
John: Something tells me we better get more tape. OK, here’s his first eyelid opening. Better get that on tape. We’re going through his first toll…let’s get that on tape. Hey Rick, don’t you just want to…
John, Vicki & Rick: Hug and kiss them all the time?
(That was something Vicki said so often about her daughter it was a running joke on the show)
Rick: He is so damn cute.
John & Vicki: Awwwwww.
Rick: Wait a second…is he crying? Hold on.
Sound: A tiny baby cry can be heard.
John: Is that him?
Rick: Yup. His on-air debut.
Rick: He’s got some lungs on him.
John: That kid sounds like he’s two years old.
Rick: Yeah, he’s got good pipes.
John: Does he want to come in and do a few record talkovers?
Vicki: How long is he?
Rick: 21 inches.
John: So what was it like?
Rick: It was so cool. It was just like the movie “Alien.” The baby kind of popped out and looked around. Then he jumped up and sucked my eyes out…
John & Vicki: (Laughing)
John: Then Siguorney Weaver came in with some sort of a mechanical device. It was unbelievable.
Vicki: You guys. Is he all wrinkly. Does he have hair?
Rick: Yeah, he does have hair. That was the first thing we saw. I asked the nurse…ewww…what is that? That’s his hair. Oh.
John: Did you get it on tape?
Rick: Of course. Uh, oh. I have to go. We need to take Bridget up to the recovery room.
Vicki: You’re still in the delivery room?
Vicki: That’s dedication.
John: How many calls have you made so far?
Rick: This is my second call. I called my mom first.
John: Wow. Well take care of everyone.
John & Vicki: Bye.
John: There they go. Dad Rick, Mom Bridget and now Thomas Kaempfer.
Vicki: I kind of liked the other name Rick was talking about before.
John: I don’t think Bridget was ever going to agree to Ringo.]]>
The first one I remember happening to me occurred on the Tower of Pisa. The year was 1978. I was 15 and my little brother was 8. In those days they let you walk all the way to the top of the tower. My brother and I ran ahead of the rest of the family.
Now, obviously, you know that the Tower of Pisa leans. What you may not know, however, is that you could walk to the very edge of it…and there was no railing there. So, before my parents caught up to us, my little brother calmly walked to the very edge; his toes literally couldn’t have moved another inch. That was enough to scare me, but it’s what he did next that still palpably terrifies me to this day. He craned his neck over the edge, and leaned forward in the same direction the tower was leaning…186 feet above the ground.
My heart almost stopped.
I wanted to scream, but I knew if I did, it could startle him, and cause him to fall off. I calmly asked him to back up, and he did. Nothing happened. At least nothing happened to him. I’m still afraid of heights to this day.
This week I had another hold your breath moment. It happened at 2AM. My dog Ivy was whining. Normally I would have just let her whine, but I knew that she was having some, shall we say “digestive issues”, and that if I didn’t let her out in the backyard I might have a nasty clean up in the morning.
So, I groggily opened the back door and went outside with her. She ran out to do her business, and because it was a full moon I could see her. I saw her stop in her tracks, and I saw what caused her to stop in her tracks. It was a black animal with a white stripe down it’s back. And Ivy was face to face with it. In a totally uncharacteristic move, Ivy didn’t bark.
Again, I wanted to scream to have Ivy come back into the house, but I knew if I did that, I might startle the skunk. So I said as calmly as possible…
“Ivy, come here girl.”
Of course she didn’t. She and the skunk were staring each other down. I started bribing her. My voice was barely above a whisper.
“Ivy, do you want a treat?”
Nothing. Ivy began to sniff the skunk, and the skunk didn’t like it. He turned around, and Ivy looked she was going to sniff directly at the worst possible place. OH MY GOD, NO. But I still couldn’t scream. The tail looked like it was about to go up.
“Ivy, do you want to go for a ride?” I whispered.
That got Ivy’s attention. She immediately ran toward the garage, and the skunk shuffled away without spraying her. I got her back into the house, and no damage was done, but needless to say, I didn’t exactly fall right back asleep that night.
I know that bad things happen every day, and those moments stick with you for a long time, but your brain has a way of dulling them so you can make it through another day. A hold your breath moment does the opposite. Because nothing actually happened, it has a way of permanently stamping your memory. Your imagination takes a snapshot that never goes away. 34 years later, I still vividly see my brother leaning. I see it clear as day. I see it in my sleep. I see it every time I’m in a tall building. I see it writing these words.
This most recent hold your breath moment probably won’t have the same effect on me. After all, it wasn’t a life/death moment this time, and as much as I love my dog–she’s not my brother. 34 years from now, I’m pretty sure I won’t be afraid to go in my own backyard. But I’m also sure I’ll never remove that picture from my brain. If I had any artistic ability at all, I could paint it.
A pit bull mix with her snout inches away from a skunk’s behind, visible only by the light of a full moon.]]>
My smart phone always tells me who is calling between rings: “Call from Bridget”
I heard the smart phone’s voice, and I heard the rings, and I sort of narrowed down the location, but couldn’t quite pinpoint it. I must have looked for it for twenty minutes with no luck. So, I called it again from my land line.
“Call from Rick”
It sounded like it was caught in the couch cushions (again–not sure how that could have happened because I’m such a *ahem* exerciser, and so not a couch potato), but I tore up that couch and it wasn’t there. It wasn’t under the cushions, and it hadn’t slipped behind the cushions. I lifted up the couch and it wasn’t underneath it either.
What the heck?
I called it again: “Call from Rick”
That’s when I figured out where it was. It had slipped through a little hole, and fallen between the springs of the couch. I tried to reach through the hole, but my hand was too big. I got Sean to reach his smaller hand through the hole, but he couldn’t find the phone when he reached around.
Now what? Suddenly it started ringing off the hook. I’m on the board of a local soccer club, and there must have been some issues with the fields. Everybody was calling my cellphone.
“Call from Jeannette”
“Call from Steve”
“Call from Joe”
Crap. I didn’t have anyone’s number because I stored them all on my phone. I had to get that darn thing out of there. I was just about to cut a hole in the bottom of the couch when Bridget returned home from work.
“What are you doing?”
“My phone is trapped in the springs of the couch, and I can’t find it.”
“Just call the number.”
“I HAVE,” I said, perhaps a little too forcefully.
“Here, I’ll do it,” she said.
“It won’t help,” I said. “We still can’t find it.”
“Turn off the lights,” she said.
Sure enough. When the lights were out, we could see the light of the phone as it rang. It literally took her thirty seconds to get it out. I felt like a complete idiot, which I’ll grant you is not an unusual feeling for me.
The good news is that in the extremely unlikely circumstance that I lose my phone in the couch again (which won’t happen, I mean it’s not like there are indentations on a certain spot of the couch that perfectly fit my cheeks), I’ll know what to do.
I’ll ask Bridget for help.]]>
When he was born, I was still the executive producer of the John Records Landecker show on WJMK Radio. Like we did with the birth of my two other sons (Tommy and Johnny), the John Landecker show followed the pregnancy on the air. I even recorded the actual birth on digital audio tape as it was happening, and then called into the radio program with a full report live from the hospital.
His brothers were both born early in the morning (Tommy at 4 AM, Johnny at 2 AM), but Bridget was in labor DURING the show for Sean. I called into the show every hour and gave updates, some of which are referenced in the transcript below. Sean was born less than hour after the show ended that day.
This is the transcript of the call the following morning, September 20, 2002. The show members at that time were John Landecker, Leslie Keiling, and Bonnie Greene.
John: Magic 104.3, 8:14, John Records Landecker along with Leslie Keiling, that’s Sister Sledge “We are Family”. Rick, our producer, are you there?
Rick: I’m here.
John: You’re a brand new dad.
Rick: Yes I am.
John: Bridget are you there?
Bridget: Hello. I’m here.
John: Do you have a radio at the hospital?
Bridget: No. We had one down at labor and delivery, and we were listening. The anesthesiologist thought you were really funny.
Leslie: Oh great.
John: You mean when he called him “Shakes”?
Rick: And a heroin addict, I believe.
John: Ha! So, how long do they let you stay in the hospital these days after delivery?
Bridget: 48 hours, and I’m taking every last second of it.
John: Well you sound good.
Rick: She looks good too.
John: Do you feel good too?
Bridget: Yeah. And we got a little trooper here too.
Leslie: Is the trooper in there with you?
John: No hold on a second, we’re not giving anything away here. OK, so Rick. So far you have Tommy…
Rick: He’ll be seven next month.
John: And Johnny…
Rick: He’s 4 1/2.
John: Now people want to know. Hit it, Vinnie.
(Music: Theme song from “My Three Sons”)
John: It would be my three…
John: How big was our boy?
Bridget: 7 pounds, 12 ounces.
John: How long was labor?
Bridget: I’m not exactly sure because when we got here I was already in labor.
Leslie: That’s the best way isn’t it?
Rick: It really wasn’t that long. I think she only had to push about ten times.
Leslie: And then went to the prom.
John: Let’s get to the tape. Now Rick, you taped this yourself?
Rick: I did.
John: Any problems?
Rick: None at all this time. I had the surgical gloves on, and was helping the doctor. I had a leg in one hand, and..
John: Now wait a second here. What leg were you hanging on to?
Rick: I was hanging on to one of Bridget’s legs.
John: Oh. So let me get this straight. You’re hanging on to Bridget’s leg with one hand, and the microphone in the other hand?
Rick: No, I set the microphone down on the table.
John: Oh geez. I had an image in my head here…
Rick: I’m very talented.
Rick: I did test levels.
John: The first time you didn’t even know the microphone was on, the third time you’re testing levels.
John: OK, roll the tape.
Dr. Sabbagha: Hi, hi, there it is. Can you push a little more?
Dr. Sabbagha: Hi there. Push push.
Nurse: Hi pumpkin.
Dr. Sabbagha: God, you’re beautiful. Say something, precious.
Rick: It’s a purple baby. That’s Johnny’s favorite color.
Dr. Sabbagha: There he goes.
Rick: It’s a boy!
Bridget: It’s a boy?!
Rick: My three sons. Good work!
John: Rick. Guess whose crying in the studio? Oh, look, I got two of ‘em crying.
Leslie: That’s so beautiful.
Rick: It was soooo cool. I really got to enjoy it this time.
John: (sarcastically) Oh, and I know how hard the whole birthing process is for you.
Bridget: I actually thought he was funny this time. He made me laugh.
Bonnie: Because you hated him the other two times, right?
Rick: She kicked me in the knutchkies the first time she was so mad at me.
Bridget: I did not.
Rick: You did too.
John: Oh come on now, you two. You just had a baby.
Rick: I’m actually really proud of her. You should see her. You’d never believe she just had a baby.
Leslie: How are the boys. Are they excited?
Rick: (long pause) Uh…no.
Bridget: Tommy was so excited for about ten seconds. He came running into the room, held the baby, and then…hey what’s in this cabinet?
Rick: And Johnny didn’t even want to hold the baby.
Bonnie: Johnny’s the middle child now.
Rick: Yup. My mom asked Johnny yesterday how his day went, and he said…Um, let’s see…I went to school…I played in the park…um…She asked, ‘Did anything special happen?’ and he answered…”No.”
John: Oh well, that will be an on-going story.
Rick: We’re going to all go to a White Sox game tonight and beat up a coach. (This was the day after the William Ligue story)
John: You were gloating all morning, weren’t you?
Rick: Yes I was.
John: I told you! Cubs fans are gloating all over the city. So…the name of the child is…
Rick: Sean Harrison Kaempfer
(Baby noises in the background)
John: Is that him?
Bridget: Yup. I’ll put the phone up to him.
(More baby noises)
Bonnie: He sounds like a puppy.
John: OK, Sean. That’s Irish for John, right?
Bridget: Yes, technically it is. S-E-A-N.
John: Harrison, I’ve got to guess, is…
Rick: Let’s just say it’s not for Harrison Ford.
John: It’s for George Harrison, isn’t it?
Rick: Yes it is.
John: I knew it!
Rick: But I didn’t pick Sean. That was Tommy’s idea.
John: And Johnny wanted to name it…
Rick: Johnny abstained.
John: Johnny threw his headphones down and walked out of the Security Council meeting!
Rick: That’s right.
John: Well congratulations everybody. We now have Sean’s first on-air performance on tape too.
Bonnie: Are his eyes open yet?
Leslie: He’s not a kitten for Pete’s sake.
Rick: Blue eyes.
Bridget: He’s kind of dozing right now.
Bonnie: Poke him. Wake him up.
Leslie: Isn’t it good that Bonnie doesn’t have children? Have you taken him out for a walk yet?
Rick: We’ve got newspaper all over the floor…
John: Bonnie, it’s a baby.
John: Well thanks for procreating.
Rick: My pleasure.
John: I’ll bet it was. And now we have the vasectomy next.
Rick: Yes we do.
Leslie: And then we’ll hear Rick making baby noises.
John: Sean Harrison Kaempfer. That’s a cool name. You’ll have to change your answering machine message you know.
Rick: I’ll do that today.
John: Cause it says, Rick, Bridget, Tommy & Johnny can’t come to the phone. Well thanks guys, and congratulations.
Bonnie: Of course, it will be awhile before Sean can come to the phone.
John: The next time we do anything with children, you don’t talk.
I have a current favorite with my middle son Johnny, who is 14 years old now–a freshman in high school. This absolutely drives him crazy, so of course, it’s like fresh blood to this father vampire.
Johnny considers himself a bit of a tough guy, especially around his little brother. If I’m not in the room, he talks and acts very much like a dictator.
But as much as Johnny bosses around his little brother, he absolutely melts when he’s around his dog. He really loves her. He can’t walk by her without hugging her, petting her, and playing with her. It’s the only time he drops that tough-guy veneer and gets mushy. He can’t help it. It’s actually quite sweet. He calls her all sorts of pet names like “poochy” and “sweetie” and “lovey” and “beautiful girl”.
And every time he does it when I’m around, and I mean every time, I pretend like he’s speaking to me. I do this with a completely straight face, and I never break character. It goes a little bit like this…
Johnny (hugging Ivy): Oh poochy, poochy, beauty. You’re my sweetie. Oh yes, you are.
Dad: Johnny, please, don’t talk to me that way. Just call me Dad.
Johnny (horrified): I’m not talking to you, I’m talking to the dog.
Dad: Right. Listen, I know you love me, and I know sometimes you can’t control how much you love me, because of all I do for you…
Johnny: I was talking to the dog!
Dad: …But sometimes your love for me is just a little too strong. What would your friends say if they heard you calling me poochy, poochy, sweetie?
Dad: That’s better. Dad. Let’s go with Dad. It’s not that I don’t appreciate your undying love and gratitude.
Johnny: I was talking to the dog!
(Dad holding Johnny’s shoulders)
Dad: I love you too, poochy, poochy, sweetie.
Dad: Right. Sorry. If you call me Dad, I should just call you Johnny. I love you too, Johnny.
Johnny: I was talking to the dog!
Dad: Right. Let’s keep pretending that. It looks better that way. It’ll be our little secret.
And then I walk away.
I do this at least once a week, and even though he knows that I know he’s talking to the dog, it doesn’t matter. It’s impossible to swagger when your dad is asking you not to call him embarrassing pet names. It’s simply not possible.
It’s just a bonus that it give me boundless joy to mess with him this way.]]>
I’m in that second group.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never had my car door torn off by oncoming traffic, or smashed a hole into my garage with a bike rack, but every time I see those commercials I don’t laugh. I think: “That could totally happen to me.”
As I get older, it seems more and more likely. I’ve never exactly been Mr. Smooth, but lately I’ve really turned it up a notch. There are days my brain doesn’t seem to have any connection to my hands. The simplest tasks turn into a sitcom.
I’m thankful that no one can see me attempting to make coffee in the morning. I know it’s early and all, but getting the coffee grounds into the coffee filter has suddenly become the most challenging task imaginable. I give the entire kitchen a coffee-grounds bath at least twice a week.
The other day I was making a Chinese stir fry with chicken thighs, and I usually separate some of the chicken for my kids before I add the sauce (because heaven forbid there’s any flavor on it). While I was in the process of moving the chicken from the pan to the bowl, a very easy ‘Point A to Point B’ transfer, point B suddenly wasn’t quite where I thought it was. I completely missed the bowl. I mean, I just whiffed. The chicken went right onto the floor.
I’ve never seen a happier dog in my life.
I’ll grant you things like this seem to happen most often when I’m in a hurry, and with three over-scheduled boys in the house that’s quite often, but I did something a couple of days ago that made me seriously question my competency.
I was making a frozen pizza–the simplest task imaginable. All I had to do was set the temperature of the oven, unwrap the frozen pizza, stick the pizza into the oven, and set the timer. It’s almost not possible to screw up this incredibly easy assignment.
When the pizza was done, I pulled it out of the oven, but I apparently did it a little too quickly. I’ve never seen this happen before. I guess I used a little too much force, because the entire top cheese layer of the pizza went flying across the kitchen. Not the whole pizza. Just the layer of cheese.
It sailed a good five feet in the air, and plopped onto the kitchen floor.
I was holding a round piece of dough with some sauce on it, and the floor was holding the only part of the pizza that my children will eat.
The “I Love Lucy” staff writers would have rejected this scene as too slapsticky.
The only other living being in the kitchen with me was the dog, and even she looked up at me, and said “you’re kidding, right?” with her eyes. She didn’t make a mad rush for the cheese. She just took in the moment, and waited for me to scream an obscenity of some kind.
The old me would have done that. The new me has adjusted to the new reality.
Before even addressing the baked cheese chunk on the floor, I simply reached into the refrigerator, pulled out a bag of shredded cheese, spread it onto the cheeseless pizza dough, and stuck it back into the oven.
The boys never noticed the difference, the dog got a bonus dinner of gritty kitchen floor cheese, and the hapless daddy went on the internet to investigate the cost of installing security cameras in the kitchen.
The least I can do is get the next inevitable blunder on film for the youngsters on YouTube.
Within a year or two it may the only thing I’m capable of contributing to society.]]>
I’m specifically referring to the story he told about his father. According to Mitt, his mom and dad were married for more than sixty years, and every single day of their marriage, Mitt’s dad gave Mitt’s mom a rose. Every single day. For more than sixty years. When I heard that, my initial reaction was: Thank God Bridget isn’t in the room right now.
How many husbands weren’t as lucky? How many wives sighed when they heard that story before turning toward their husbands and giving them that look? You know the look I’m talking about. The “why don’t you do anything like that for me?” look. (The camera didn’t cut away to her, but I bet even Ann Romney had that look on her face)
The husbands of America had to think fast. I’m guessing they said one of following things to the wife giving them that look.
1. “What? He was rich!”
(For the record: $2 a rose, 365 days a year, for sixty years, comes out to $43,800)
2. “What? You know his secretary took care of that for him.”
(Or, “I would never ask my assistant to take care of something that personal. It’s demeaning to women.”)
3. “Oh come on. He made that up.”
(Or “He’s a politician. You know they have only a passing relationship with the truth.”)
4. “That’s insulting. I’m not one of those husbands who thinks he can buy his wife’s love. I respect you too much for that.”
(Good luck with that one)
5. “I’m sorry, I wasn’t listening to the speech. I was lost in your beautiful eyes.”
(You’ve got to save that one for big moments like this.)
Regardless of how each husband responded, I know I speak for the husbands of America when I say that we don’t appreciate being put in that position. Not from one of our own. What about the husband code? As a fellow husband, you should know better, Governor.
Mr. President, the same goes for you. You still have time to take any and all “awesome husband” stories out of your speech. Because if you don’t, you won’t be able to secure the husband vote even if you give each and every one of us a rose every day.
We are husbands, hear us roar.
We are proud. We are invincible. We are…lucky to still be married.
Don’t blow this for us.]]>
I love that. I can’t wait until she gets fat and old too. Then life will be perfect.
Already there are really only a few things that make her jump during the day.
#1: The doorbell.
She knows her job is protecting us, and she hops to it when somebody tries to invade our space. Luckily for her, very few people come by during the day. Her job is about as demanding as an all night security guard at a suburban parking lot. She mostly just sleeps on the job.
#2: My keys.
The jingling sound of car keys makes her booty shake like K.C. and the Sunshine band. “Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy.” The mention of the word “Ride” makes her butt wiggle like a Fly Girl. (Those are references from the 70s and 80s, kids. Send me an e-mail if you need a translation).
But there’s one thing that excites her even more. There’s one thing that will make her jump out of a deep sleep and run at full speed immediately…
#1: The Dishwasher
When that dishwasher opens (and our’s squeaks a little bit when it does), she can get there in less than a second from any part of the house. The opening of the dishwasher represents a smorgasbord, a taste sensation, a veritable cornucopia of flavors. “Is that the pizza cutter? Mmmm. Those are the grill tongs, aren’t they? Mmmmm. A plate full of dried BBQ sauce? Where do I sign?”
I know the stereotype of doggy heaven is a place where dogs can roam in open fields for eternity.
I have a feeling it’s slightly different. I think it’s a row of open dishwashers filled with dirty dishes and utensils stretching as far as their doggy eyes can see; each successive dishwasher packed with another flavor of food chunks from around the world.
Mmmm, Greece. Yummm, Germany. Yowza, France.
That, my friends, is truly doggy heaven.
Although if Ivy has any control over the countries that are chosen to participate, she humbly requests that India be excluded. She’d rather eat plastic than vegetables.]]>
I had gone over every element of physically driving the car. The gas pedal, the brakes, the gears, the steering wheel, the blinkers.
“Are you ready to try this?” I asked.
He looked a little scared, but he nodded.
“OK, let’s switch places.”
I got out of the driver’s seat, and got into the passenger seat. Tommy sat behind the wheel for the first time.
“Do you need to adjust the seats or the mirrors?” I asked.
He shook his head. “Nope. This is fine.”
“OK. Now remember, we’re just going around the corner here, and then we’ll go down the street and turn into the driveway. Got it?”
“Got it,” he said.
He put the car in drive and it lurched forward. “Oh my God,” he said.
“It’s OK–just take it easy.”
He slammed on the brakes. Then he pushed the gas a little too hard. We jerked forward and back. He steered the car onto the wrong side of the road, nearly driving on a lawn. But he successfully made the turn onto the correct street, and he used his blinker properly.
When we were on the right street, he steered into the wrong lane again, and slammed on the brakes and pushed the gas a little too hard again. He looked slightly terrified, but he made it onto the driveway, put the car in park, and turned off the ignition.
“Whew,” he exhaled.
“Whew,” I exhaled.
Only 49 hours and 58 minutes of supervised driving to go.]]>