Ted+Kelly, Part 7: Feigned Disinterest

It's been so long, I barely remembered where I left off.  But we're back in the saddle now.  This is a calm "episode" of Ted+Kelly but it leads up to a whopper in the next chapter.

In case you're new to this fun:
Part 1 (In which you wonder how this story could end the way it did.)
Part 2 (In which I'm suddenly available.)
Part 3 (In which the descriptions of bowel issues leave you dumbfounded.)
Part 4 (In which you're suddenly as in love with Ted as I was.)
Part 5 (In which I send signals so mixed, they should be canned and marketed as nuts.)
Part 6 (In which Ted begins to become a fixture in the life of Kelly)


I stared down at my planner in disgust.  I had so much going on the next several days and a line of tasks crossed off, completed in the previous two days, yet today was virtually empty.  I had gone into my office for an hour that morning to do what needed to be done.  My class that morning had been cancelled to work on a group project my group had already completed.  I had a deluge of exciting tasks and responsibilities coming up in the next couple weeks and days but today, for a while anyway, was blank.

It would be the perfect day to do something fun.  My thoughts immediately turned to Ted.  Ted... I hadn't heard from him in the past day or so.  It was a strange gap in communication.  Why hadn't he called or sent a text message recently.  Odd.

I knew he was home.

Well, I mean, he would normally be home now.  While I'm in class.

I mean, he'd be home.  Unless he wasn't.  Unless he was with someone else.

I had to stop that sort of silly thought process.  He wasn't with another girl.  And even if he was, so what?  I was going on a mission.  And I was busier than a one-armed paper hanger.

But still, he hadn't called in a while.  So why didn't I just send him a text to say hi and see what he was up to?  No harm in that.

"Hey :)  How are you?  What's going on?"  Light.  Friendly.  Playing it totally cool ... No, ACTUALLY AM totally cool.

He answered a few minutes later. "Hey.  I'm good.  I'm watching a movie."

He was watching a movie.  Oh.  That's fun.  What, like, at home?  Or at a theater? Was he with people or just hanging out alone... not inviting me to join him?

I decided to just call him.  He answered after a few rings. "Hey, Kelly.  What's going on?"

"Oh, nothing really.  My class got cancelled and I'm surprisingly unbusy right now.  Just hanging out at my apartment."  That (silently) screamed "INVITE ME TO WATCH YOUR MOVIE!" ... right?

He took no cue, though. "Niiice.  I love when there's nothing going on."

"So what movie are you watching?" I asked.

"Um, I think it's called 'My Fair Lady.' It's a musical or something.  It's Ben's and I've never seen it before so I thought I'd see if it was any good." He laughed at himself a little.

He was either truly at his apartment, dozens of yards away from mine, watching a musical, or he was messing with me because he knew I enjoyed musicals.

"Really?  I love it!  It's so good.  Do you love Audrey Hepburn in it?  She actually kind of annoys me in it at times, which is basically sacrilege to admit, but she's supposed to so maybe it's OK."  I decided that came out too excited but whatever.

Ted didn't seem to notice my fervor of words. "It's pretty good.  I'm not following it perfectly but it's aight."

Did he? - did he really just say "aight" like a gangster, as if it's appropriate to say ever, let alone in regards to Audrey Hepburn?  And WHY wasn't he inviting me over to watch with him?!

"Yeah... well, cool."  I paused.  He didn't say anything.  The moment hung like droopy wallpaper in need of more paste.  "Sooo," I found myself saying, "aaare you going to ask me to watch it with you or what?" There.  Take that!

He sort of laughed to himself.  Was this a laughing matter? "Oh, yeah.  Yeah, of course," he said in a mock-cool tone.  "Hey Kelly, want to come watch 'My Fair Lady' with me? I'm already like a half hour into it but you're welcome to come over."

Did he really want me to come or was he saying this because I basically told him to?  I didn't care.  It was Ted, I didn't think he would say something he didn't mean or invite me to do something - no matter if he was coerced or not - if he didn't really want to.

"Oh, watch with you?  Well, yeah, I guess I could come watch with you.  Interpret.  Make sure you're not lagging behind on the plot," I replied.

I'm in!

What was the DEAL?  He hadn't called me in like EIGHT DAYS (exaggeration, but still!) and then he didn't even come right out and invite me to watch a movie with him that he obviously knew I'd adore?  Ew.  Boys are weird.  And inconsistent.  And... YAY!  I was going to spend the morning watching a movie with Ted rather than being at work or class.

I put my phone and chapstick into my pocket and walked past the 3 buildings separating mine and Ted's.  I climbed the stairs and took a breath outside his door.  I knocked.  Waited.  I knocked again.  Nothing.  So I balled up my fist and pounded with the fleshy end of my hand.

"It's open!" I heard Ted call from the kitchen.  The kitchen! - right inside the door.  Was he DEAF?

"Hey," Ted said warmly, as he stood at the sink, filling his cup with water.

"Heeey," I replied, skeptical.  Who was this stand off-ish man?

We exchanged small talk and eventually plopped down on the couch, in movie mode.  I was excited to see Ted's impression of "My Fair Lady," but mostly I was ready for some chill time with this guy who, though currently seemed aloof, I really enjoyed spending time with.  And as he hit play, I smelled it.  His cologne.  It smelled fresh.  Maybe he wasn't so unaffected after all.

Around intermission, Ben came home with a couple of grocery bags.  "Hey guys.  You look awfully cozy there.  How about a tomato sandwich?"  Ben was also so kind and willing to share.  But, why tomatoes?

Ted responded eagerly. "Heck yes!  That sounds awesome."  Of course.

"Um, I'm not really a raw-tomato person." I squeaked, with a grimace, knowing to expect backlash.

"What is a raw-tomato person," Ben asked.

The imagery of a person made entirely of raw tomato bits was humorous but it was not at all what I intended. "You know, one of those people who just, eats tomatoes... on things or just, like an apple or, like... ever." I explained that to the best of my ability and as thoroughly as I could.

Ben smiled greatly and Ted looked rather appalled. "You don't like tomatoes.  At all?" Ted was flabbergasted.

"No, I like them a lot.  Cooked. Stewed.  In things. Soups. As sauce.  Ketchup even, on occasion.  Just not... uncooked."

Ben wasn't convinced. "OK, but raw tomatoes are taken to an entirely new level when sandwiched in between two layers of eggy challah bread.  I'll make you one and if you don't eat it, I know someone else will.  Me. Or Ted.  Or Ted and me." Ben chided me gently and I agreed.

Moments later I stared down my first tomato sandwich with apprehension but a gut full of good intentions.  I had once hated zucchini and  made up  my mind to eat it every chance I had until, eventually, it became one of my favorite vegetables.  Just behind broccoli.  And why - WHY - was Ted finding out all my least favorite foods? Spicy anything.  Raw tomatoes.  I was not a picky person but I surely wasn't showing well.

A drip of tomato-watered-down mayonnaise escape from the corner of Ted's mouth. He caught it with his knuckle and licked it off.  "Mmm, Ben, this is so good.  You're so awesome."

I picked up the sandwich as I was gaped at.  I cautiously opened my mouth and proceed to take a hearty bite, as anything worth doing is worth doing well.  I chewed through the dense, sweet bread and it mingled effortlessly with the fresh, aromatic tomato.  It did not do bad things.  I didn't want to chuck it or spit it out.  I wanted to swallow it.  And I wanted another bite!

"Benjamin Peterson," I exclaimed before swallowing. "This is the best tomato sandwich I've ever had." Swallow.  "And the first one.  But the best!" Ted had another.  I did too.  But, half, because, still, it was raw tomato.

We all laughed and after his sandwich making skills were put aside, Ben excused himself as Ted and I refocused on the movie, closer and cozier on the couch than before.  All too quickly, the movie was over and I knew it was time to return to 100 other things.

"Thanks for having me over for some Audrey Hepburn and tomato goodness.  Who knew the two were such a delightful combination?" I meant it, too.

"They wouldn't have been, without the perfect company," Ted said with his patented corny smile. "Are you going to be at LFAB at the institute?" Lunch For a Buck?  Yes, I told him, I would of course be there.

Ted hugged me on the door step and, I was certain, watched me until I was out of view.  I didn't see him so much as felt his gaze until I knew I was out of sight.

For a girl who had been pulling teeth to get invited to watch a movie, I was sure that had turned out better than I had thought it would.

Samuel Coy

A large number of friends have been asking after details surrounding the unusual arrival of Sam.  Sam was born Saturday morning at 2:00 AM en route to the hospital and delivered by his sweet papa.  Everyone is happy and healthy and well and here are the details surrounding the blessed event.

On Wednesday May 13 my OB told me I was STILL dilated to a 4, despite a week of consistent though irregularly timed contractions.  I was 40 weeks pregnant and discouraged.  I didn't WANT to be induced, but we set an induction date for Friday the 15th, with the hope that we'd still head into the hospital due to spontaneous labor.  I didn't have a lot of hope and I was sad that I was setting my 4th induction.  Simon was born hours before his scheduled induction but his had still been set.

Friday morning came.  I was supposed to call the hospital and make sure they could accommodate us for the scheduled induction.  They could not.  In fact, they almost laughed at the idea of it.  They said Friday afternoon EARLIEST, likely Saturday some time.

I was SO depressed over this.  I was DONE and I HAD made it to my induction so I had just resigned to the fact that it would happen and the upside was that at least I would soon not be pregnant anymore and hold my beautiful baby.

All day I was grumpy as I waited for the hospital to call us in.  To add to that, I was having pretty decent contractions.  They were painful and felt productive, like actual labor, but were never consistent. Ted was grumpy too.  He knew how miserable I was feeling, physically and emotionally, and wanted nothing more for me than an immediate, healthy end to this seemingly endless pregnancy.

Around 1:00, Ted called L&D to ask after the possibility we would be called in.  They said they'd had so many babies born, they didn't have room to move ladies and babies to recovery rooms and only had 2 open L&D rooms and could not fill them with inductions.

I decided around 4:00 that even if they did call us in, I was past my prime, despite two naps that day, and I wasn't going to induce on Friday the 15th.  Maybe we'd try for the next day.  But, another part of my sort of knew an induction wasn't meant to be.  I felt like I missed my one chance and it was almost a sign I was going to have to wait it out, or should wait it out, regardless of how long that was.  I was semi-OK with that.  There are serious pros and cons to induction.

While putting our kids down to bed, around 7PM, my contractions finally started to really regulate.  They were 10 minutes apart for around an hour and I was starting to see a glimmer of hope for spontaneous labor.  By 7:30, I was seeing them at about 7 minutes apart and around 8:30, they were about 5-6 min and my mom was on her way over.  We were going in, whether they had room or not!

But our plans were thwarted when, around 9, before leaving, my contractions just stopped.  Ted decided we'd walk but I knew walking wouldn't help.  For the past several weeks, every time we walked, I just turned on my super powers.  Ted and I claim I'm the amazing gestating woman, who only grows STRONGER and more able to gestate with every passing step.  Walking has never sent me into labor and never helped me progress.  In fact, it tends to cause any contractions I have to stop.  Know what works?  Watching Chopped on my couch and eating ice cream.  Sleep is even more effective.  Don't be jealous.

But walk we did and came home and waited a little.  NOTHING.  Oh, over the next hour, 2 maybe 3 contractions but it was looking dismal.  My dad had dropped my mom off so we sent her home in our van and I resigned myself to sleep.  Before she left, my mom kept encouraging us to just go in, they'd have to take us.  But I wasn't going to go not in active labor, still at a 4 maybe 5, and be sent home or go and "sleep" for 4 or more hours in a wretchedly uncomfortable hospital bed when I have a perfectly comfortable (no really, it's perfectly comfortable) bed of my own at home.  I told my mom I'd rather have a baby at home, delivered by my husband, than go through all that foolishness.  I told her everyone else was much more concerned than I was and just chill out.  Famous last words.

I put my phone on my night stand, ready to time any contractions on my timing app  And I did.  I timed every contraction that woke me.  The lesson I learned the next day was that it is inefficient to time contractions and not LOOK at your log.  At all.  And just roll over and go back to sleep.  While they're 60 seconds long and 5 minutes apart.  And you're at least 45 minutes from the hospital.

At 1:03AM my eyes popped open, violently, in response to an extremely new sensation.  As background, my water was broken by my doctor while under the influence of anesthesia with Gwenna and Meredith and broke on its own with Simon 20 minutes before he was born.  It felt like a leak, not a balloon popping, which this did.  And yet, even with the change in sensation, I knew instantly, we were in trouble.

Ted retrieved a towel (my mattress is was totally dry, somehow), called my mom, and helped me to my blue recliner across from my bed.  My lips and teeth instantly started to chatter.  This only happens under two circumstances, other than extreme cold: When I'm oxygen deprived and when I am transitioning in labor.  Oh, how I chatter as I transition!  This was scary to me because it meant we were down to the wire.  I did suggest, "Maybe we should go to your hospital, Ted."  Meaning, of course, the hospital in town.  Ted disagreed.  "They don't even have a baby warmer in the ER."  Our hospital is very small and does not deliver  babies.  We'd have been shipped out, via helicopter to Tucson, for sure.  And despite having helicopter insurance, this isn't something we relished.  Safford it is!

This was the only point during the entire laboring experience that I was really anxious.  At this point, Ted gave me a blessing and I pulled my act together.  After that, I got up, Ted got me a pair of his shorts (much easier to pull on than yoga pants, which we tried and the baby was so low it was insanely uncomfortable), I went to the bathroom, and we left.  Thank goodness my mom lives a mile away. She ran our phone charger and a sweatshirt out the door for Ted and at 1:33 we were pulling out of our driveway.

I said a prayer as we drove down our dirt road and after, told Ted I was going to sing in between contractions.  It kept me really calm and upbeat. I was surprisingly level headed in between contractions and not as worried as I suspected and could feel Ted was.

From Willcox, we travel about 10 miles on the I-10 until we hit HW191 and take that 40ish miles to Safford.  As soon as we hit the 10, Ted hit the gas and didn't go less than 90 MPH, save slowing down then a trailer in front of us blew a tire and started swerving and spewing bits of rubber.  That was concerning but we were fine and soon speeding away again.  Ted learned from Simon being born 30-some minutes after arriving at the hospital that when I say it's time to go, we go!  He has never lived down going to speed limit the entire way to the hospital with Simon's birth BUT he has learned from it.

My contractions, though intensified greatly, stayed at about 5 minutes apart with some "aftershock" that whole first 10 miles.  I remember, the third contraction I finally needed to squeeze and knead Ted's right arm and brace myself on the car door with my other hand to get through it.  I was really excellent at breathing through contractions, relying on Ted's shiny advice on the way to the hospital with Simon, which was, "Breathe, honey.  Don't forget to breathe."  With Simon I was holding my breath through the intense contractions I had previously been dead to with my girls due to anesthesia.

With Simon and now with Sam, once I started breathing deeply, it was a game changer.  Still terrible but there was light at the end of the tunnel as I could feel each contraction roll from my back to my belly, peak, and start to decrease.

I had 2 mantras in my heart and mind.  The first is something we hear all the time, women repeat it through labor regular.  "You were made for this."  Truly, I know I am literally made, built for this moment.  Second was something Stephanie Fritz posted on Facebook recently. It was essentially about no contraction being stronger than you because they ARE you, they COME from you.  In my mind, that's pretty equal.  These thoughts helped immensely.

After reaching the 191, though, they started coming stronger, lasting longer, and before I knew it, they were 3 minutes apart.  Then, almost as without any warning, one minute later, there was another.  I felt a strong sensation of pressure as the baby dropped into place in the birth canal and with that first 1 minute contraction I realized we were still miles from the hospital and we were NOT going to make it.

I wasn't scared of this fact.  It just was what it was and I knew we had to prepare for the inevitable.  It felt intensely surreal but never frighting.  I trusted myself and I trusted Ted to handle the things I couldn't.

I told Ted at this point, "Honey we're not going to make it to the hospital." I may have sounded rushed in speech or panicked but it was mostly from speaking through pain.  Ted said, "Are you sure?  I'll go faster." And he did, he went 110 before our ever trusty and loved Ford Taurus tried to turn itself off.  Twice.  "No honey, we're not going to make it.  You have to pull over now."  He believed me and pulled over.

Ted ran around to my side of the car, opened my door, reclined my seat a little, and I pulled down his shorts (which I was wearing, lest we forget and think this just got really weird). He retrieved 2 sweatshirts from the back seat of the car and pulled out his phone with its very bright flashlight app.  He held  his phone up and inspected.  "I don't see anything.  No head, nothing.  I think we can make it."  We couldn't.  I knew that.

Seconds later, "Oh, there's the head!"  And when he said that, along came another contraction, lots of "OK, OK"s on his part, and with one push, a head FULL of dark hair was born into the cold night.

Knowing to wait until the next contraction to push and with a reminder from Ted to wait, I breathed through the next moment, already feeling some amount of relief.  Ted wiped the baby's face - mouth and nose - making sure its airways were clear.  With the next strong surge of contraction, I pushed out our little baby's body.  Ted immediately put him on my belly, wiping him a bit as we passed Sam my way.  I pulled him up best I could, announcing what I already knew, "Here HE is!"  Ted opened his legs, now that Sam was right side up.  "It's a boy, it's a boy!"  Elated, surprised, proud.  THAT reaction was totally worth not knowing for so long and laboring and delivering on the side of the road.  Ted delivering and discovering his son was amazing.

My relief was varied and deep.  Physically, I felt one trillion times better.  I can't even describe the dichotomy between the moment before you have a baby and the moment after, especially during an expedited delivery.  The comparison is so immediate and opposing.  The physical relief is unreal.  But to have and hold and see this little baby after the last hour of uncertainty - and an excruciating long pregnancy in general - was perfectly rewarding.

After a few minutes, I looked over at the clock and saw it was 2:03 AM and gasped, "Ted!  What time was he born?!"  Ted said it had been 2 on the money.  He, as a nurse, would have paid attention to something like that while I was of no mind to care.

I hadn't delivered the placenta yet and because of the many complications that can cause, we did not actively pursue that. When the placenta is delivered, that is when bleeding starts.  The wound created from the placenta being separated from the womb can create a very messy and potentially dangerous situation if not handled correctly.  We decided to get to the hospital quickly and bid farewell to our little delivery spot between mile markers 105 and 106.

I told Ted to call 911 because, well, isn't that what you do when you have a baby on the side of the road?  We did just want to drive to the hospital, so we did, just as fast as before.

Sam cried a moment after he was born.  I knew he could.  But he was just cuddled against me, his skin to mine, warm and new, and he was incredibly calm, alert, and peaceful.  He did sqwak a little at one point in the next little bit until we got to the hospital but hardly at all.  Just enough to assure me his airway was clear and he was healthy.  Ideally, I'd have liked to have nursed him, but didn't dare for fear of pulling his cord too tightly or pulling at all on the placenta.

I'll skip the ordeal with the 911 operator and the ambulance crew (much more sensible than the 911  operator) and skip to the hospital.  We arrived to a welcoming crew, standing in the rain.  It had barely begun to drizzle after Sam was born and was lightly raining by time we reached the hospital.  As we pulled off the road, into the parking lot, I reminded Ted my shoes and his shorts were still around my feet and legs and could he please handle those when we stopped.  He laughed a little and agreed.

One ER nurse sat in the driver seat and helped me from behind, another 2 assisted me out of the car.  My job was to hold onto my baby and precariously step out into the world, unclad from my waist down, in a wet parking lot, shielded by a human wall of people holding blankets.  One of the weirdest sensations is clutching something, externally, that is still attached to you, internally.  Each time the baby's cord moved, I could feel that inside.

I sat in a wheel chair, covered from each angle with warm blankets, and was wheeled to L&D, where I had great help getting into a bed, still holding tight to my attached baby.  I never had to let go of him from the time he was born and it was amazing.

Though the situation seemed relatively emergent, no one was rushed or frantic.  Everyone was calm, no one inundated us with questions, they just took care of what needed to be done.  Since I'd done everything without an IV, they gave me a shot of pitocin in my leg to encourage the birth of the placenta.  My doctor arrived and moments later, the placenta came without issue.  They clamped the cord and allowed Ted to cut it.  My baby was finally free and I was able to cuddle him to my chest and nurse him while I was being stitched up.  The numbing shots prior to being stitched were the first "pain relief" I had received and they, as I have always said, were just as bad as the rest of the pain of labor.  That's a really sensitive area to receive shots and I got a lot, probably upwards of 10, in multiple areas in the region, before they started to take effect.  Not fun but not one of the biggest concerns.  I got stitched up and our doctor was gone.

Looking back, as I like to, I see some amazing things that happened.  I had a few very specific desires relating to the entire birth process with our 4th baby.  One was that, regardless of how we delivered (induction or natural spontaneous labor) I wanted to avoid an IV as long as possible.  I don't fear them but I hate being tied down.  Second, I wanted to delay the cord clamping because of the wonderful benefits for the baby.  Third, I wanted to hold my baby immediately after birth and for as long as possible before the nurses tended him.

The latter two desires stem from issues I had with Simon's birth, hopes I had that were not met.  His cord was around his neck 4 times and he was blue so they had to cut the cord immediately and I couldn't hold him for over an hour, until he pinked up.  I was not OK with how that played out, despite understanding the medical need.

The way everything panned out this time, all three of those desires were not just met, but exceeded.  I never had an IV while in the hospital.  When the nurses attempted to extract some blood from the cord to test Sam's blood type, they couldn't get so much as a drop.  And that was for sure the longest I ever held a baby prior to medical care.  They were able to listen to his lungs and make sure his airway was clear even before my doctor arrived, so while he and I were still connected.  I can't imagine a more ideal situation.  I know no one says that about having their baby on the side of the road but what I really mean is, I can't imagine any other set of circumstances in which all those strong desires of my heart would be met so perfectly.  I choose to see the perfection in this way rather than the obvious deficiencies. 

The other hopes I had were that I could avoid anesthesia (I felt like I couldn't, physically, with my 2 inductions), retain our placenta, and delay his first bath.  Those, while secondary, were all met as well.

The whole story of Sam's birth is very dramatic seeming and movie-like but in actuality, it was very uncomplicated and not nearly as scary as it might seem.  I feel like it happened just the way it was supposed to happen and I wouldn't have wanted to share it with anyone other than my amazing husband.  I know he was floored when it was actually happening and shocked but he kept his cool so well.  He was amazingly supportive.  He was calm as I contracted in the car, reminding me how well I was doing breathing, offering me his arm to abuse through contractions, insisting it didn't hurt (um, I'm stronger than that...), and BELIEVING me when I told him it was time, even though he was skeptical.  Our sweet Sam just had to make his way into the world with at least as much dramatic flair as his brother.  I do hope they can curb the competition here, or I won't last many years as their mama - haha.


Many people expressed an interest in Ted's thoughts on the situation and he was able to be persuaded to jot down his recollections.  Below is his "side" or perspective of the events and they are very... Ted.  I didn't alter a thing (though I was temped to edit for content).

It was a dark and dreary night just after 1am when my dear wife awoke me from a deep slumber. “Honey, get up, my water just broke. We need to go to the hospital.” I asked how I could help her, she told me to grab a towel. I did so. She then wriggled like a worm backward until her backside was hanging off the bed. It was humorous to watch but I knew better then to laugh in this circumstance. Kelly eventually stood up and I gave her the towel and she went to the bathroom. I called her mom who said very sleepily, “hello” I replied It’s go time, her water just broke.” She said she would be on her way over. Mary was watching our other kids while we went to have the baby. Kelly said her contractions were about 5 mins apart now and she needed new pants. I went searching for a pair of pants that Kelly had requested and I couldn’t find them. I changed in about 3 seconds and had my shoes on. I brought Kelly my sleep shorts. She said okay because they were loose fitting on her. Kelly asked for a priesthood blessing, which I promptly gave her and felt like I could use one myself, but alas, I can’t bless me. God gave Kelly and I comfort through this blessing. 

Mary arrived and we got all our things gathered and in the car. I forgot the phone charger, Mary went back inside to grab that and I kicked as much of the dog food back in the storage container as I could. “Stupid Doug, At least he ate as much as he could for his last meal. Glad he’s going away in a few hours.” Kelly had a large bath towel she folded in half to sit on. 

It was then 1:37am when we pulled out of the drive. I had made up my mind we would be driving very fast and I was hoping we would get pulled over so I would have a police escort. We did not.  On the I10, I was going between 95 and 100 MPH for that rocking 10 miles or so. At one point, we both got a scare as a guy’s flatbed trailer’s tire exploded in front of us, and a piece of the tire hit our windshield. It was about at this point, Kelly started kneading my right forearm. Man alive, she has a good grip. She should maybe be a masseuse. Though if she were doing shoulders she should use a little less grip. 

Off the free way now and onto HWY 191. I totally ran that stop sign and didn’t even care. Sign reads 37 miles to Safford. I think “Oh great, I hope we make it.” I get right back up to speed now going between 100 and 105 as the right forearm is sure not to have any hair left on it from the kneading. We get into Graham County and Kelly is kneading my arm for 1 min and not for 1 min now. I am praying we make it to the hospital. I tell Kelly she’s doing a great job breathing in through her nose and out through her mouth. She says “Thanks for the reminder, we’re not going to make it.” I say “okay time to put the hammer down.” I floor the gas pedal. We then go 110 MPH and the governor kicks in and won’t let me go any faster. 

Just after the highway goes from 4 lanes to 2 lanes, Kelly tells me we’re not going to make it and we need to pull over and have the baby. I think, we just need to go faster, if she can hold out for another 7 or 8 minutes we’ll be at the hospital. I try to go faster but the governor won’t let me. 110... that’s it... why does the speedometer go up to 125? Stupid car. I pull over.

I get out, run around the car, and open up Kelly’s door. Help her get her drawers down to her ankles.  I setup my flashlight app on my phone and wedge it in the window of the car door so I can see what’s going on. Didn’t know it before but that is why we don’t have square windows in cars. They couldn’t hold cell phone flashlights when needing to birth babies. I don’t see anything coming out except some discharge, I tell Kelly, its fine and we should really be going to the hospital. Did I check her cervix? Nope. Do I know what I’m doing? Nope. I have had some training in nursing school but not enough or recent enough to remember much. Kelly answers “No, were having the baby here.” 

I then go and get some more supplies, basically just hoodies from the backseat. We didn’t have any other towels. “Way to go Boy Scout” I tell myself. 

Just as I get back to Kelly’s door, 3 things happen. 1. A semi-truck passes going the other way, I wave and hope they stop so they can call an ambulance. 2. The weather changes and it starts to drizzle. 3. Sam’s head comes out. 

I look at my beautiful and wife and think, She is amazing. How is she doing this on the side of the road, in a car? I then grab the sleeve of one of my sweaters and wipe off the baby’s face and head, making sure to clear the nostrils and mouth. I tell Kelly she is doing great and to wait until the next contraction to push out the baby’s body. About 30 seconds later, the kid goes from facing the ground turning to the left and now the body is out and is face up. I think, wow that wasn’t so hard, what time is it? My watch says 2:00am. The cord is wrapped under both arms and behind his neck, I untangle that as I’m giving the baby to Kelly. I check the gender, he has huge balls! “HE’S A BOY!!!!!! Yahoo!!!!!” Kelly is smiling her super smile. I think man “she is hot.” I grab the sweater with both clean arms and cover that baby up with it, it also cover’s my wife’s private parts so that’s good too. Kelly and I talk about the placenta for a minute and since it doesn’t appear to be coming out, we decide to get going to the hospital. With Kelly’s advice I take a couple pictures. Kelly tells me to call 911. I do. We get on the road. 

I’m back up to 85mph without a moment’s notice. 911 tells me Graham County will call me back. I get the call, they ask me where we found the baby? I tell them we didn’t find a baby but my wife just had our baby. They tell me to pull over and wait for the ambulance. I tell them NO WAY and go 90, giving them mile marker locations as we pass them. No other cars on the road. The 911 supervisor gets on the phone and tells me to stop driving. I tell him no. The ambulance meets up with us at Reddington Land and Cattle Company. I hang up. 2 big guys come to the car and I open Kelly’s door, they look at each other and one says “let’s just let him punch it with the car and we’ll follow.” I say “great.” We take off. I call L&D at the hospital, tell them to go to the ER as we’ll be there in a minute. 

As we pull up to the ER, there are 8 people out there waiting to help us. I know 4 of them from either school or they used to work with me. We go to L&D and the rest is boring old hospital stuff... the Dr got there shortly after we did and stitched Kelly up, the placenta was born. We stayed 16 hours and came home.

We name the boy Samuel Coy Crowder. Crowder is our last name of course. Coy was my Uncle Al’s middle name and this boy was Coy about the way he came into the world. It fits. Samuel... the name never crossed my mind, but it feels right for this little boy.

Other Crowder Kid Birth Stories:
Simon (This was a crazy one and some people have mentioned they hadn't heard it.)
Mer -  Haven't found where I recorded her's (publically) yet.  Will fill in later.


Ted+Kelly, Part 6: Now or Never

Nearly 6 months after the last installment, I was starting to go Downton Abbey on ya'll. (Can the next season just be NOW??)

In case you're new to this fun:
Part 1 (In which you wonder how this story could end the way it did.)
Part 2 (In which I'm suddenly available.)
Part 3 (In which the descriptions of bowel issues leave you dumbfounded.)
Part 4 (In which you're suddenly as in love with Ted as I was.)
Part 5 (In which I send signals so mixed, they should be canned and marketed as nuts.)

Carry on!


I sat in my educational technology class, trying to put together a decent presentation for the following week.  I knew almost all this information prior to taking this class.  So why couldn't I focus and finish?

My purple flip phone, in the front pocket of my backpack, vibrated loudly.  I reached for it and saw it was a text.  From Ted.

"Pick you up at 6 tonight, if that's ok.  Dinner then the play."

My date with Ted.  I didn't have to be at the Institute building tonight for FHE.  I knew the "parents" of the groups had everything in order so I agreed to a Wednesday night date with Ted. So unlike me. I knew it was all planned but I struggled slightly not going.

I replied at the speed of T-9. "Sure, sounds good.  What's the dinner plan?"

He responded quickly. "Oh don't you worry, I've got it covered.  I'm cooking."

Um, he's what?  If there was one thing I was pretty sure Ted couldn't do, it was cook.  I mean, I wasn't certain, but he was more impressed with my cooking than he should be, drooling every time he popped by and I was making this or that.  Teriyaki turkey burgers, roast chicken with my roommates on Sunday, cheesy potatoes for a pot luck... Puddles of drool.

I got home with little time to get ready but managed to change shirts and freshen up my make up. I wondered where my roommate Karin was, having not seen her since that morning.  I hadn't even had time to mention my date with Ted.

The knock on the door at 6 on the dot made me wonder if he watched for the minute to pass on his phone before knocking.  Extremely punctual.

I answered the door with a grin.  There was Ted in his slightly awkward totally adorable glory.  We walked over to his apartment.

And I smelled it before I saw it.

It was spicy.

"I hope you like Cajun food because Tony Chachare does it right!"  I couldn't describe the odd accent as he said this if I wanted to.  Uniquely Ted.

I was clueless. "Tony who?  I have no idea what you're talking about."

He seemed legitimately stunned. "You've never had Tony Chachare Cajun seasoning? How is that possible."

"Well, you see, I grew up in Illinois.  You've never had deep dish pizza, I imagine. Maybe we're even."  Yes, I thought, and I'm suddenly grateful I didn't grow up in Arkansas, like you did...

Ted plated our food and after a prayer, dove in.  I tried.  I pulled  away the spicy top parts and tried to eat the parts that weren't nearly blackened with seasoning.  I dipped the chicken in the mashed potatoes to calm down the spice.  But even with these tricks, Ted was done before I'd eaten half and at about the same time I finished my second glass of water.

"I'm sorry Ted.  You actually cooked it really well.  It's not dry or burned. I just don't have much of a tolerance for spicy food."  It was a little embarrassing and he had tried really hard.  He was also totally OK with it and we left.

The walk across the street to Ardrey Auditorium was quick and after he paid, Ted selected seats. "Is this spot OK?" I nodded, sat, and perused the program. We enjoyed some bantery small talk until, behind me, I heard a well-known voice.

"Are you guys SERIOUSLY on a date and we just sat RIGHT behind you? Unbelievable."  Karin. Ha!  Well, at least I wouldn't have to fill her in on the details outside of the chicken.  Plus, Karin was predisposed to give Ted a hard time.  I wondered how that would play into the evening.  At least it was a play.  Dark.  Quiet.  Polite.

Without skipping a beat, Karin chided Ted. "Ted, do you even know who wrote Taming of the Shrew?  This doesn't seem like your ideal date idea, outside of dim lights. Ok, juuust kidding.  But no, really."

Holding up his copy of the program he answered, "Um, I can read." Sarcasm for sarcasm.

Ted knew I'd minored in theatre and that while it might not be number one in his book, it was pretty high up on my list.

The lights dimmed and we dove into Verona by way of one-dimensional acting and tired costuming.  Still, we enjoyed it. I later wrote our favorite quotes in my program to think back on later. ("I burn! I pine! I perish!")

We were laughing over some of the production during intermission when Ted, to my left, pointed behind me, out to the aisle at my right. "Hey, what's that in the aisle?" I turned to look and felt a weight fall on my shoulder.

I turned back to him, not shrugging his "advance."

"That's how you're going to play it?" I laughed.

That sly grin I'd recently been introduced to made its entrance, center stage. "Well, you didn't shrug me off so I guess it doesn't matter how I got here."

As the lights dimmed and my roommate returned to her seat, I heard a gasp followed by an exaggerated cough.  Guess Karin just saw Ted's arm around me, I thought.

The rest of the night went well. We had a good time, as we always did.  We never ran out of things to talk about, never felt awkward around each other, childish diversion tactics included.  After the play, and since he had to work that night, he walked me across the street to my apartment, 2 buildings away from his.  We hugged goodnight on my doorstep and I was greeted by my roommate, Arizona, on the other side of the door.

"You're home kind of early.  How was your date??" Arizona oozed with her normal post-date excitement.

"Oh, he has to work tonight. ... It was good!  He cooked dinner and even though it was too spicy for me..."

Arizona interjected, "...most anything is."

Ahem. "Even with that, it was cooked really well.  He was very gentlemanly and we talked a lot and really easily.  The play was good and at one point he put his arm around me.  Kind of gutsy when I just basically gave him the shove-off a few days ago..."

Arizona cocked her head. "Well yeah but then you told him to be persistent and went on a date with him four days later.  I mean, you're saying one thing and sort of giving him signals of something completely different."

She was right.

I had very little retort. "It's true and he is a great guy.  I really enjoy spending time with him.  More so than any other guy I've dated recently.  But I'm SO busy.  I have the end of the year banquet THIS WEEK for ASNAU, the school year is winding down and I am taking 18 credits.  Plus, I have two other jobs, and a calling... I just feel like I'm way too busy to have any guy in my life right now."

"And yet, you still made time for him tonight," Arizona counseled.  "If there's anything I have learned it is that you are never going to be less busy than you are now.  No one is, no matter where they are in life.  If it's not one thing, it's another.  If you don't make time for a relationship now, you won't do it when you're still this busy, or even busier."

That hit me hard.  But I still felt tangled in a web of work and school and church and... and... and... It always seemed like there was an excuse, another demand on my time.  It was one of the reasons (of several), I felt, that my last relationship hadn't worked. It was probably why the guy after that had just stopped coming by.  Not that I was upset by that.  I was happy with my commitments and how those relationships had played out.

But, I wondered that night as I lie in bed, would I be happy if things with Ted fizzled out in like fashion?  Did I have to make time for this guy or risk losing out on what I was finding to be a good, honest, kind, attentive, attractive man who obviously felt at least as fondly as I did?

As sleep washed over me, I still didn't have the answer.

Ted+Kelly, Part 5: I Could Have Danced All Night

It has been 1,000 years in the making, but part 5 is here!  (Control your girlish screams, I know, it's exciting!)

In case you're new to this fun:
Part 1 (In which you wonder how this story could end the way it did.)
Part 2 (In which I'm suddenly available.)
Part 3 (In which the descriptions of bowel issues leave you dumbfounded.)
Part 4 (In which you're suddenly as in love with Ted as I was.)

Let the fun begin!


I woke up to a metal squeak in the bottom bunk of a metal bunk bed.  It was always one of the first sounds I heard in the morning, sleeping in a metal bed, while my roommate Karin slept directly below me. 

I peeked through the blinds in no particular direction... but, maybe, I looked to about where I knew Ted would be walking to his car... should he be walking to his car.  "How absurd.  It's 7:00 in the morning."  And yet he was the first thing on my mind when I woke that day.

Tuesday held a strange task for me.  I had to tell the only boy who had actually asked me that I would go to the Institute formal with him when I had previously told him I might go with someone else.  He thought, I thought, we ALL thought, Sterling was going to come by Monday night.  Yet, true to form, he never showed.  He had made a habit of coming to me when it suited his fancy, when he wanted to flirt with a girl with a huge smile, when he suddenly felt the urge to serenade someone, and I was not wanting to wait around.  Nice as he was, I wasn't wanting to wait for ANYONE let alone him,

It was strange to go to Ted, when he knew I was debating between him and another intention, and tell him I chose him.  And yet, I didn't feel strange about it.  His actions the night before put me so at ease with the decision that I never even waited around for Sterling.  Whether Sterling asked me or not, I knew who I was going with.

And why was there always some other guy creeping around the corner every time Ted entered the picture?

I texted Ted as I was leaving for work.  "Can you meet me in my office sometime in between classes?"  He agreed.

Several hours later, sitting at my desk in the ASNAU (Associated Students of NAU) office, planning the last details of the upcoming LOUIE Awards ceremony, my purple cell phone buzzed on my desk.  "Ted Crowder: I'm here, can I come back?"  I stuck my head out the door and waved him back. 

We exchanged pleasantries.  It was the first time he'd been in my office.  I was grateful no one else was around, as I shared it with a half dozen other people on the ASNAU staff. 

I shifted gears. "So, I was hoping to accept your invitation to the dance.  I'd like to go with you if you'd still like to go with me."

I was afraid his smile would spread so wide it would bust either the glass looking out into the main office or the window on the other side.  Always the confident man, Ted replied, "Yeah!  Let's do it!  I knew you couldn't resist me."


Wednesday through Friday flew by.  My days and weeks normally did with three jobs and a full class load as well as institute classes and church responsibilities.  I often wondered when I had time to breathe but loved the business and everything I was able to be involved with.  And yet, in the midst of my crammed days and the end of the semester coming around the corner, Ted and I managed to see each other every day.  It was amazing how our paths crossed now in ways I hadn't seen before.

Ted gave me a ride from LFAB (Lunch For A Buck) at the institute building, we talked when he picked Karin up for class to walk to north campus together, we both got home from class at the same time and strolled to the mailboxes together, he texted while I was writing a paper one night asking if I  needed a break and a walk over the Baskin Robbins.  No matter when we saw one another our conversation came easily and there was always something to talk about. 

Ted's ego was easy to pick at and roll my eyes at and he always made me feel important, like I was a priority.  He worked one full time job in an awkward split shift and had the same sort of class load I had, similar institute and church obligations, and yet among all he had on his plate, he would seek my company.  I always happily accepted.

If I weren't preparing for a mission, this would be downright flattering.  But instead, I was just happy to enjoy his company.  At least, I'd tell myself this.  I'd remind myself regularly how busy I was.  Busy busy busy with no end in sight, straight up to when I was ready to turn in my mission papers in a couple months and serve a full-time mission.  Busy.  That was me.  With a capital B and all.  And yet he was there, persistently, filling in the gaps between everything else, and I was available to spend time with him.  It was a lovely coincidence.


Saturday came, dance day!  As my dearest high school friend Jessica had been preparing for her own mission, she lent to me her formal dresses to hold onto.  I remember when Jessica wore the beautiful blue satin skirt her mom had made for her to prom.  I thought I'd wear that, but the top was made just to Jessica's measurements and didn't fit me right. 

My roommates and I found a princess line black top that went perfectly and I added a signature cardigan for good measure.  The black against the blue was a lovely mix and I was happy with how it came together.  Hooray for roommates!  And yet, what they were about to do made me more excited than the wardrobe assistance.

As I was putting my jewelry on, there was a knock on the door.  I knew better than to run off to answer the door.  I was sequestered to my room, just within earshot of the living room.

Ted entered to find my roommates perched on the couch, pens and notebooks in hand.

"Come in, Ted," they invited.

He sat down on a lone chair in the middle of the living room.  It couldn't have been less inviting with a spotlight shined right on it.  He had no idea what he was getting into.

"Before we let one of the girls go out on a series of dates with the same boy, we like to get to know a little more about him.  We like to find out his intentions.  This is your chance to share with us all of this information."  Casey spoke these words like a seasoned pro.

We called it "The Spanish Inquisition" and it wasn't pretty.  An array of twenty questions taking the roommates on a virtual tour of the boy's life from childhood until now with the occasional absurdity thrown in here or there just for our own personal enjoyment.

I stood in my bedroom giggling to myself at the answers and also surprised now and then.  He was surely baffled by the strangeness of our roommate tradition but didn't portray himself as super nervous.  He shared his answers in a truly Ted-ish manner: not too serious, not to silly, honest, bold, and overly-confident. 

In the end, my roommates gave him two thumbs up and let us go out.

I exited my bedroom to a well dressed man with a clean shaven dimpled chin and a dozen roses.  Orange roses.  I must have mentioned it at some point that orange roses were my favorite: the perfect blend of love and friendship in flower talk.  They were beautiful and I thanked him.

"You look amazing," Ted said as he opened the door.  His sincerity was always appreciated.

"Thanks," I replied.  "You look quite handsome yourself!"  And he did.  I was certain I'd never seen that suit on him before and it turned out he had purchased it the week before when he was in Mesa.

We went over to Ted's apartment where he and his roommates cooked dinner for their dates.  And after we ate, and the group was preparing to play a few games - as our group of friends was doing constantly - Ted asked if I'd like to go on a walk before the dance. 

And it was at that moment that I felt it.  I knew what was coming.  I could predict that we were already entering the DTR phase of our early relationship.  A DTR was abbreviation for "Define The Relationship" and I knew in my bones that if Ted and I went on a walk before the dance, he would propose some sort of exclusivity.  I knew this man to be both intense, committed to his decisions, and a fast mover. Apart from most situations, I admired these qualities.  His intelligent decision making skills and decisive nature were admirable, but I was not prepared to be at the opposite end of these skills.

"If you don't mind, I'd really like to stay and play games until we head off to the dance."  I tried to decline without seeming as though I knew exactly what was up his four-buttoned sleeve.

And so we played games.  And when it was time, Ted politely escorted me to Leroy, his beloved Scion XB, and we drove up the steep curve to the Stake Center (church building). 

It was then, shortly after arriving at the dance, that I learned this kind, honest, goodly man's fatal flaw.  He could not dance. 

"What I lack in dance moves, I make up in everything else awesome."  Ted's surety of this statement made me believe it as well.

So after some socializing, awkward dancing, and refreshments, Ted suggested we sit out the next dance and take a little stroll outside.  I was running out of ways to avoid this conversation so I agreed.  I wasn't really a "rip the band aid off" type girl but I saw no way around it.

It was chilly since the sun had gone down and, ever the gentleman, Ted offered me his suit coat.  I accepted and we walked for a bit.  I was surprised by Ted's noticeable nervousness.  I wondered if it was actually as noticeable as I thought or if I had just come to be able to read him.  I knew I was able to pick up on nonverbal cues and other people's energy in ways some people couldn't.  So was it him or was I reading into this too much?

We stopped outside an entrance, sat on a stoop, and Ted switched gears abruptly.

He began with vigor. "So Kelly, I was pretty stoked you agreed to go to the dance with me.  I've really enjoyed our time together on our first date and hanging out and tonight.  I was hoping maybe you'd like to make this a more exclusive deal."

I took a deep breath.  "I am still reeling from my break up with Pete and then Sterling trying or not trying to date me... and then there's all that I have on my plate, which you know all of that stuff, and I just can't even imagine this is something that I can commit to right now.  But I've enjoyed spending time with you too, Ted, and I'd like to keep doing that.  But I can't really commit to a relationship right now."  ... He looked accepting of this.  But his blue eyes buried under his dark rim glasses, and the way his chin creased handsomely, and the closeness of his arm and body to mine made me say something I wasn't expecting to say. 

"But, be persistent!"

Be PERSISTENT?  Who said that?

"Ah, be persistent, eh?" A sneaky grin I would come to know well slowly spread across his face.  "So you're saying to keep trying, huh?" 

What was I doing?  What did I say?  I was both refusing and encouraging him in the same breath.  And yet... and yet I couldn't say that continuing to spend time with Ted would be a bad thing.  I couldn't say I didn't like spending time with him.  And I couldn't say that I didn't wake up each morning wondering when I'd "bump" into him or when he would text me or what I should wear that day in case I did see him...

So as we walked back into the dance, something had changed.  We weren't exclusive.  There was no real defined relationship.  But, I knew there could be and so did he.  And apparently he wasn't going to stop trying that easily.


Ted+Kelly, Part 4: Make-out Hill

It has been a hugely long time (in the scheme of how fast I've been recording this love story) since I last posted.  My dear Ted was out of town for several days.  Gwenna had spring break.  We went on vacation for over a week.  I had a kidney stone.  Then, I got back to this.  I promise, part three (obviously) was NOT the end, as much as I suspected it would be at the time. 

If this whole story is new to you, start here:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3



The Sunday after the peculiar date was an unusual Sunday.  My institute teacher (who was also my Bishop - i.e. congregational leader) had asked a strange favor of me.  He had asked if I might be willing to come to Elders' Quorum the next Sunday (the last hour of church, a class comprised solely of 18-25-ish year old men in our ward) to speak for about ten minutes on a few topics he thought the men would benefit from hear in a woman's perspective.

"So you are teaching Elders' Quorum?  That's not strange at all."  My roommate Casey's sarcasm as she made her breakfast expressed exactly how I felt.  I had prepared well and wasn't nervous but did feel a little out of my element.

Arizona had her usual broad grin she wore when she had a teasing comment. "One girl in a room with all those guys... sounds like a fast pass to weddings bells." 

How absurd.  "Oh gosh."  I moaned.  "I think most of them know I want to serve a mission."  Maybe they did and maybe they didn't but I wasn't eyeing anyone in particular.

"Does Sterling know?"  Arizona asked, maintaining her smile. 

Sterling had been coming around our apartment more and more lately, sometimes bringing his guitar to serenade the girls in our apartment, but most specifically to serenade me.  He was a nice guy and we had been out on a date but nothing had come from it.

"Well," I replied, "if he doesn't know, he needs to know."  My plate was fuller than full and the prospect of a mission on the horizon only made me that much more firm in my resolve to avoid love right now.


I felt twenty pairs of eyes on me as I walked into Elders' Quorum. I'm not going to say I had tried hard to primp that morning but I was speaking to a room of single men.  Any self respecting woman would have relied on her black pencil skirt!  And to keep it fun, I added  a bright pink button down shirt just for a pop of color. 

Many of the men in this room I considered my friends, most lived within a few apartment buildings of my own.  I knew the usual suspects would all be present and I scanned the room as I spoke, my eyes landing on Ted.  His mouth was slightly open, reminding me faintly of Mary Poppins.  "Close your mouth, Theodore, we are not a cod fish," I thought but of course did not say.

I was grateful when my ten minutes of fame had passed and I could return to my own meeting where my pencil shirt and pink top would blend into a sea of similar ensembles rather than sticking out like a sore thumb in an ocean of polyester ties and white shirts in need of ironing.

I was ready to leave promptly at the end of church when Sterling caught me by the door. 

He smiled. "Hey Kelly.  Good job in Elders' Quorum."

"Thanks, Sterling."  Let's keep it brief.

"I was thinking of coming by later on this afternoon if that's OK."

No harm could come of that. "Sure, that's fine.  I should be home," I replied. 

We said our goodbyes.  I head home to nap for a while. 

I didn't exactly wait around for Sterling but it would have been rude to go out.  I decided to head out to visit some friends a few hours after church - to my neighbor girls' apartment - and that was exactly where he was. He was visiting the apartment of girls next door to us.  It didn't exactly bother me but I was surprised since he said he would be coming by my apartment.  It seemed such a flippant choice, faced with the two doors as he walked up the stairs, and he chose the one on the right.  I was on the left.  Didn't bother me, I told myself.  Just surprising.  He never did make it by my apartment that day.


Monday came around, rushed and hectic as it always was.  Class, work, work again at another job, and Family Home Evening that night.  By time I arrived at the institute (church) building, I was worn out.  But I had responsibilities to fill and it was only an hour or two until my day would finally be over.

And when it was, with the closing of our activities, Ted met me at the door, as these boys seemed to be doing lately.

"Hey Kelly, want a ride home?" he asked with his signature cheesy grin that fell somewhere between nervously fake and ecstatic.

I hadn't driven to the institute so I gladly accepted.  Our short drive was filled with light though enjoyable small talk and he walked me to my door.  I walked in, still in conversation and he naturally followed, commenting on what a nice night it was.  Casey and Arizona where both home, in the living area.

"It's so nice out tonight," Ted said, "we should go out and do something, just for a little while.  I know you've had a long day.  But, do you want to go on a little drive?"

He was right, I was still exhausted from my day but it sounded like something chill and fun enough that it might shake off some of my day before I dove into textbooks.  "Yeah.  Where do you want to go?" I inquired.

"Oh, I was thinking... Mars Hill."  Ted's eyes shifted and his lips pursed as they squelched a smile as he suggested this location.

"You mean Make-out Hill??" blurted Arizona, who sometimes had a talent for blurting.

I had never been to Mars Hill but it did have the reputation, a sort of romantic look-out point in Flagstaff, for being a make-out spot.  I should have been surprised Ted would make that kind of offer but just by suggesting it in front of my roommates rather than just casually driving up the hill, he was showing he had no suspicious intentions.

"Yeah!  You know it.  OK, not really.  It's just a pretty night and I thought it would be fun."  Ted's mock confidence dripped off him like perspiration.

"Sure.  Why not?  Let's go.  See ya later girls."  I winked at my roommates on the way out.  They both laughed, seeming to know something I didn't.

We headed out in Ted's gray toaster of a car that he loved so much.  I observed what a conscientious driver he was, knowing that driving for a living had surely sharpened his skills.  He told me about how he learned to drive really young, having gotten his license at 14, a whole ten years previous. 

The drive up the hill was windy but I relished the cool air through the windows.  Talking with Ted and enjoying the night air washed away layers of stress and Mynday grime that had built up over the course of my day. 

We got to the top of the hill, overlooking the greater part of Flagstaff.  The downward facing lights gave way to a beautiful night sky as we parked next to a row of mostly closed, dark cars, making things feel only slightly awkward. 

"Want to get out and check out the view?" I was glad at Ted's suggestion.

I was immediately taken aback by the clear sky.  "Wow, the stars are amazing.  You can see so many more than Phoenix.  I love living up here.  What a view!"

Ted agreed.  "Yeah, it's pretty great."  But he wasn't looking at the view.

Just then I got a chill.  I thought it had something to do with the brisk Flagstaff night air but it probably was more than that.

"Hey, I have a blanket in the back of my car.  Let me grab it for you."  Ted went to the back of the car and returned with a black and white quilt.  He unfolded it and wrapped it first around my shoulders, then around his, his arm across my shoulders as well.

I must have given him a look of surprise because his response was priceless.  "What?  What kind of guy would I be if I can't even help keep you warm on make-out hill?"  We both laughed.  It was so easy to laugh with Ted and despite the newness of it, I took note to the fact that I fit perfectly under his arm. 

My thoughts were interrupted by my ringing phone in my pocket.  I pulled it out and Ted said to go ahead and answer, though it seemed rude to ruin the moment.  He didn't retract his arm.  I took the call.

"Hello?" I asked.

"He Kelly, it's Sterling."  Wow.  This is awkward.

"Hey Sterling," I said to alert Ted to the caller.  He still didn't remove his arm, though I suspected he would.  Felt like he should.

"Hey.  So have you been asked to the institute formal yet?"  No beating around the bush for that guy.

The institute formal dance was coming up in a week.

"No, I haven't." I didn't offer any more details than I had to, especially standing on Mars Hill with Ted.

"Ok.  Hey, can I come by later tonight for a little bit?" Once again, Sterling seemed direct.  I didn't particularly want to go to the dance with him but, I hadn't been asked.

"Yeah, that would be fine.  See you then."  I could be direct too.  He said goodbye and I closed my purple flip phone.

"So Sterling, huh?" Ted half asked, half sighed.

"Yeah.  He asked if I'd been asked to the institute formal yet.  I said no.  Since I haven't..." I sort of trailed off, realizing, at that moment, that maybe Ted had wanted to come to this lovely setting to ask me just that.  I wished I could take back my last words.

"Oh. ... That's... cool."  Ted trailed off also.  "I was sort of hoping to ask you as well but it seems like you've already been asked just now.  Or he's going to ask you?  Making his intent known?  I dunno."  He seemed more disappointed than I'd have imagined. 

"Well he didn't technically ask.  He just asked if I have been asked and said he would like to come over tonight."  Again, I felt like the words were coming out all wrong.  Why couldn't I just say what I was feeling?: Nope, he didn't ask me.  You still can.  But Ted's comments made me realize he was probably seeing things from a guy's perspective.  Sterling had essentially just staked his claim.

The subject somehow got changed, thanks to the beautiful view, and a few minutes later, we headed down the mountain, less happy then when we had driven up.

When we got back to our apartment complex, Ted walked me to the door. 

"So, hey, I was hoping to ask you to the institute formal tonight, but I feel like I sort of got the rug pulled out from under me.  I'd love it if you'd go with me but if you choose to go with Sterling, I understand.  No pressure.  It's totally up to you."  Ted looked hopeful and young, like a little boy asking for another cookie.  And not in a strange way but in a completely endearing, freshly-shaven way.

I wanted to be honest.  I had only ever wanted to be honest with Ted but that has backfired in the past.  I measured my words.  "I know Sterling is going to come by and I feel like he tried to sort of 'stake his claim' so I feel really conflicted.  I don't know what to do." 

Ted half smiled.  "It's cool.  I understand.  Anyway, I had fun tonight on Mars Hill.  We should do that again sometime."  Then the real smile popped out.  Captain Insinuation.

"Thanks Ted.  I had fun too.  See you later."  I turned around and went into my apartment, knowing I wasn't mirroring his fun.

"Night." He called after me.

I walked in.  Arizona and Casey were both in their upstairs loft bedroom, Arizona's presence, at least, made obvious by George Strait's twang wafting down the stairs.

I walked straight to the landing of the stairs and collapsed.  Both Arizona and Casey appeared at the top of the stairs.  "WHAT happened?" they said in unison.

"Ted kind of asked me to the institute formal but while we were on Mars Hill, when his ARM was around me, Sterling called to basically say HE wanted to ask me and now I don't know who asked first or what to say or do."  I buried my face in my hands on the stairway covered in decrepit brown carpet from the Ice Age.

There was a knock at the door.  I thought for sure it was Sterling.  He and Ted must have passed on the stairs because I'd only walked in seconds before, having spewed my brief report in Gilmore Girl speed.

"COME IN!" Arizona called down from the loft.

In came,  not Sterling, but Ted.  He pushed into the apartment with long strides and open arms.  He came straight to the stairs where I had collapsed and enclosed me in the best hug I'd had in a while.

"You just looked really upset when you came in so I just wanted to come back and give you a quick hug and tell you know to worry about the institute formal.  It's no big deal."  He released me from his awkward yet loving embrace, retracing his steps towards the door.

"See you tomorrow," he said as he closed the door.  I hadn't said a word.

I looked up at both my roommates, eyes bulging, hands both pointing towards the door, the look on my face saying, "SEE?"

"I guess you know who you're going to the dance with," Casey said with a dimpled grin.