Neighborhood Chester

We built a beautiful dream house in a great area with good schools. It was all we ever wanted in a home. It had a pool, a hot tub, built in storage and closets in every crevice, a cooking island, large utility room, and four big bedrooms with en-suite baths, a parlor, and an open concept den/kitchen. We loved it.

One day after I moved in I asked a neighbor why didn’t we have Neighborhood Watch. I said I’d be glad to contact the Chief of Police about it.

“No need,” said my neighbor. “We have Neighborhood Chester.”

“What is Neighborhood Chester?”

“You’ll see.” He said cryptically.

I had no clue what he meant. Soon, to my horror, I did.

All communities in the south have their resident busy body. Usually a retired older lady who owns cats, goes to the First Baptist Church, knew your grandparents, and shuns trick-or-treating kids as if they carried the bubonic plague on their costumes. We had Chester. Neighborhood Chester.

Despite not being a lady or owning a cat, on all other counts he scored off the charts. His house was so blacked out on Halloween you would have thought a squirrel had fried himself by tragically tripping the power grid. He was a busy body, actually knew my grandmother, and he was a Baptist (deacon no less). His lighted Christmas yard displays were so bright pilots flying twenty miles away were momentarily blinded. The Space Station even recorded it from orbit.

No visitor, delivery boy, or extra inch of your grass went unnoticed. As soon as I got home and flopped into my easy chair after a hard day, Chester was banging on the door.

“Did you know you got a package today?”

“Ah, no Chester I didn’t. I was just wondering what that large box was sitting in front of me. Thanks so much for telling me.” He sat there waiting for me open it in front of him so he could note the contents. I didn’t. It drove him crazy. I loved it.

At the time, I served as a local judge. Often, and especially on weekends, police cars came by my house to have search warrants signed. Friday and Saturday nights were exceptionally busy and they came at all hours. A 3 am visit was not unusual. The first weekend we were in the new home was Labor Day Weekend. Lots of traffic. Lots of DUI’s. Lots of search warrants. I developed the art of going right back to sleep. Thirty years later this talent never fails me when the midnight call of nature beckons.

That first Saturday morning promptly at 7.45 am Chester came knocking on my door. “Did you know a bunch of cop cars were at your house last night?”

“Oh, man, I did.” I paused and didn’t utter another word. Of course, Chester was dying to know what was going on. Did he think I had a drug party and didn’t invite him? Did he think I had been beating my wife? (Never happens when you marry a girl from my wife’s family. More likely she’s beating you).

“Chester, I just can’t bear to talk about it. Not now at least.” Slowly and deliberately and with a terribly sad and depressed face I gently closed shut the door on him. This went on for awhile. Cop night at our house. Neighborhood Chester ramped up the next morning begging to find out what the heck was going on at my house. One Saturday he saw me mowing the grass and he came over.

“You the judge, aren’t you?” He offered. I later found out he had stayed up all night and asked an officer what was going on.

We had a pool and hot tub in the back. On occasional nights when the kids were away we would leave all the lights off strip down and sneak into out hot tub. It was wonderful. Then, after a few evening I got the creeping feeling someone was watching through the small slits in the high wooden privacy fence surrounding the property. Once I caught movement. I slipped out of the tub, tiptoed over and proceeded to pee through the fence at the sneaky voyeur next door. I hit my target because someone on the other side fell off his stool and scrambled into the house next door. Got him good. Never said a word about it to Neighborhood Chester.

Next Spring my family planned a camping trip in the Blue Ridge Mountains. As I washed out the pop up camper in the driveway Neighborhood Chester saw me and ambled right over.

“Y’all going camping I see?”

“Well, we were thinking about it.”

“Where ‘bouts?” He inquired.

Seeing no harm in it I told him about the wonderful campsite we found with a stream behind it and said we were leaving the next Monday. He said he thought that was nice and that he liked camping too. I thought nothing more about it.

It was late the night we arrived at the campsite. Luckily, no one was nearby. We had it all to ourselves for a solid week. A stream, campfire, and peace. Not even a tv and this was before the days kids needed inpatient psychological treatment if they experience cell phone separation anxiety.

The next morning I got up early and plugged in my coffee pot. Looking to enjoying an idyllic morning in the mountains I walked outside. Just then an all too familiar voice pierced my consciousness from the next door tent that mysteriously sprung up overnight like a poisonous mushroom …

“How y’all doing?”

Yep, Neighborhood Chester.

How to Embarrass Your Wife – And Live

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away we lived in married student apartments at Ole Miss. Yes, on campus there were housing units built after WW2 for former soldiers and their spouses. They were located across from the new law school. Many of our friends lived there also. A few units still exist. Years later on a football weekend we drove past the units and showed our children where we resided. They were incredulous and thought we were kidding.

“You were poor,” the oldest son said.

“Yeah, but we didn’t know it.”

Ours was a one bedroom upstairs unit. The rent was seventy five dollars a month and utilities were included. The stove was a built in contraption and the cooler was about the size of a small dorm component. The dryers in the laundry room downstairs were decrepit and wouldn’t produce enough heat to melt an M&M on a good day. Most of the time we hung our laundry outside in the back. This worked great in the summer but in the winter blue jeans stood straight up and bras, according to my wife, were not suitable to wear for 6 or 8 hours until they completely thawed. Failure to abide by this rule resulted in sudden fearsome yelling, goosebumps in uncomfortable places, and the most unmitigated shivering.

Upstairs there was brick latticework separating the apartments from view on the street. You could see clearly through them from the parking lot below though. The space between the front door of one apartment and the next was just a few feet and our neighbors were constantly coming and going.

One Summer day my wife was mopping the ancient linoleum floor. After finishing she was hot and sweaty and was planning on taking an immediate bath. She stripped down to nothing because she was going to throw all her clothes in the laundry basket. She was bare ass naked. Ah, a most pleasant memory, if I do say so. She was – and is – a pretty girl.

“Honey, do you think anyone will see me if I just reach out and hang the mop on the nail out there?”

“No, babe. Go ahead. Nobody can see a thing.”

I lied. A big lie. A lie that seldom avails itself of proper deployment. One must be circumspect when lying to your spouse. My wife has for years claimed she could tell when I lie by some sort of line etched near my mouth. I think this is not true and she asserts this to make me think twice about lying to her. But, here was my chance. She could not see me. I was sitting on the couch 15 feet away and her back was turned. Now, I am not advocating lying to one’s spouse, partner, or live in significant other. Far from it. But a strategic lie used for placing the “liee” (a word I have just coined meaning the recipient of the lie) in a funny situation is worth it. Sometimes. And, this was going to be a funny, real, real funny result. Such an opportunity does not come but once or twice in a lifetime. I was not going to pass it up.

I sprung from the couch quicker that Superman bounding over a tall building. The Flash would have been left in my dust. Spider-Man’s sticky net could not have contained me. In one flowing movement I shoved her naked out into the hallway and shut the door locking it in the process.

“Let me in,” I heard in a deep whisper designed not to alert the nearby neighbors. “You let me in damn it. You let me in. I mean it. Open this door now.”

“What?” I pretended not to hear.

“If the neighbors come out you will never go to sleep in my bed again.” She threatened.

“What?” I pretended.

“I will never cook again.”

“What? Who is that at the door?” I faked.

“If you don’t let me in this minute sex for you will be a fond memory.”

That one hit the mark. Meekly, I opened the door to a furious wife who grabbed her clothes off the floor and stormed into the bathroom without a word. That’s not good. After two days of begging and uncounted apologies I told her I was truly sorry. (This was a lie, of course) We finally made up and I pledged sacred oaths never to do that to her again.

All was well after that. We were love birds once more. Life was bliss.

Many years later I was asked to speak at a large convention and give a short humorous story as a warm up to the main speaker.

Yeah. I told the mopping nude housewife and leaping husband story. It was a mixed audience and the roar of laughter was gratifying when I sat down. My wonderful wife even smiled a little. I think. She is a good sport and mostly tolerates me. Afterward, a large crowd of ladies surrounded my wife. At the same time, a great many gentlemen came up to me and told me how much they enjoyed my story.

Driving home I asked my wife what all those women said to her. She looked at me, smiled with sweet and knowing amusement and said, “Oh, they asked me how come that bastard is still alive?”

She sure enjoyed those roses I sent her the next day.

Wes Teel

The Liar

You could not escape. Being snared in the men’s room while doing your business made it impossible to run without embarrassing consequences to one’s trousers. He always trapped you when you were most vulnerable – while you were eating, standing in a cafeteria line, trying to work, it didn’t matter. Charlie was right there spinning unbelievable tales. There was no getaway. No escape. He would latch onto an unsuspecting victim and begin an outlandish tale of inventions which Edison would envy. I wish he had not been such a simple minded but nice person. Shooing him away would have been easier.

“You know I’ve invented a way to have free electricity for your house?”

“No, Charlie, haven’t heard that one.”

“Yep. Well, see you collect all the tin cans you can get your hands on. Get ‘em from your neighbors or the dump. Wherever. Then you hammer them flat. Flat as you can get. Next, nail them on top of your roof With the shiny side up. Then you connect them all with wires. All you have to do then is run a wire to a battery and the current will flow. The sun’ll heat ‘em up and all the energy will flow to the batteries. Instant free electric. You’ll save a fortune.”

“Charlie, that won’t work.”

“Will to. I already rigged it up to my house and we ain’t paid a electric bill in years.” Then he walked off.

I was going to ask how the current magically flowed from the tin cans into the batteries. I was going to ask if he had a patent. I was going to ask if he sold any units. But, he walked off. This invention shall therefore remain a deep mystery.

Charlie Snyder perpetual motion machine

I have not made up Charlie. He was real flesh and constantly irritating blood. I have to admit I kinda liked him with all his spellbinding insanity and lies. New and unsuspecting people were particularly vulnerable prey because Charlie actually sounded like he knew what he was talking about. Much like certain politicians. Often, as he spewed out nonsense you would be taken in and somewhere deep down a small part of you wanted to believe him. Then suddenly your brain shuttered and you would be transported back to reality. There is no doubt at all he believed every word he said. Or seemed to.

My next encounter with Charlie was when he claimed to have developed a perpetual motion machine. It involved massive steel beams pivoting on an axis. They were weighted on both ends with old rusty Ford truck engines. He swore the Fords were the best. Once started the slender girders swayed back and forth and back and forth forever. Batteries collected the amassed charges. Never mind fierce winds, friction at the intersection Of the beams or slowing down due to gravity. Charlie swore it worked. And he had one on his farm.

There is a large national trucking company called Schneider Trucking. Charlie claimed to own it. One day I asked him how come his name was Charlie “Snyder” and the truck line was spelled ”Schneider” Trucking.

“That’s simple”, he offered. “They misspelled my name wrong on all the trucks and it would cost too much to fix it. So we just left it that way.” Dang it. I thought I had caught him.

One day while a group of us were sitting in the break room drinking coffee Charlie bounded in and suddenly told us he flew a helicopter in Vietnam and worked for the CIA.

“Charlie,” we said. “you didn’t work for the CIA.”

“Did too.” He didn’t miss a beat. “We flew drugs out of Laos and gave the warlord money. One day we dropped off a whole bunch of money to him. Must of been 10, 20 big old crates of $100 bills. But there wasn’t any drugs. He was going to cheat us.”

Humoring him, “ Well, Charlie, what’d y’all do with the money?”

“Couldn’t take it back, you know. So we blowed it up!”

“You blowed up millions of dollars, Charlie?”

“Yep. Blowed it up.” We fell out laughing.

Charlie was an entrepreneur. Somehow he managed to steal a truckload of appliances. He dug an enormous hole in his backyard and secretly hid the entire rig underground. For months he sold discount stoves and refrigerators, TVs, and the odd microwave from under the kids’ swing set. There was an entrance way through the outhouse. Unfortunately, his daughter accidentally ratted him out to her class at third grade “show and tell” and the teacher happened to be married to a cop. Poor Charlie. The judge did not buy his explanation about not knowing how the tractor trailer got there. One lie too many.

He should have gone into politics where the bigger the lie the better. Clearly, his talents were wasted. I read his obituary recently and looks like he is dead. Unless, of course, that’s a lie.

Wes Teel

The Fart Defense

City Court in Mississippi towns, and I suspect most everywhere, is a place where traffic tickets, minor disputes, neighbor arguments, and assorted misdemeanors are adjudicated. Most folks make the trek to the Clerk’s office and pay the ticket albeit begrudgingly. Those few disgruntled citizens eager to explain themselves or offer some excuse which will hopefully persuade the judge to go light or even dismiss the charges show up in the courtroom. The depth of dismay at having to fight a charge is evident. So too is the height of hope that one might avert the consequences if just the right defense is offered.

A lower court judge quickly becomes a lie detector with a high degree of accuracy. It is not just the explanation but the attitude of the defendant, the body language, eye contact, and dang it the plain novelty of the defense which you intrinsically know to be true. Some stories simply ring true. You can feel the truth vibes. You can also feel the lie vibes like waves of crap being thrown at you. Experience teaches. Having raised two active boys didn’t hurt either. I once had a mama appear before me who swore, “My boy has never told a lie his whole life, judge.” I told her, “Lady, his name must be Jesus Christ because my two boys lied all the time lady!”

The clerk called the next case. “James Dedeaux”, a Frenchman and we have a lot of them in south Mississippi. We have Boudreauxs, Necaises, Sauciers, Morans, Heberts, Landrys, Trahans, and finally Ladners, a great many Ladners. I married one. I never met a Frenchman who wasn’t a character of some sort. My father-in-law used to say there are two types of Ladners, the school teacher Ladners and the moonshiner Ladners. He was a teacher Ladner. My wife got a double dose of French heritage. Her mother was a Dedeaux and her father a Ladner. Her Mother didn’t speak English until she started first grade.

The old grizzled farmer wanted to tell his story. He had been wronged and by God it wasn’t his fault. He wore “overhauls” as we often call a garment better known as overalls. They were dirty and one leg was stuffed down into an old boot and the other barely hid the other boot. A brown dried up crusty substance was on the soles. I didn’t want to know what it was! If he had a tooth in his head I didn’t see it.

“Mr. Dedeaux,” I said, “sir, you are charged with running a stop sign. What do you say about it?” Very few lawyers appear in municipal court thank God, so it is best to cut to the chase once the prosecutor finally shuts up and ask the defendant what happened.

He looked around turning his head to the back and then straight at me and then to the back again. I was looking at a human owl.

“Well”, he said. The well was pronounced weeel. “It was like this judge.” He turned around again looking from side to side. “I seen that stop sign. Now, I didn’t see no cop. I seen that stop sign.” Again, he rotated his head to the right, back at me, and to the left again. “I couldn’t rightly stop. You know what I mean?”

I didn’t know what he meant. He yanked his head back to the right and to the left once more. Was he looking for help or someone to back him up? “I was agona stop see, but I had me some red beans and rice for lunch (a staple fare in South Mississippi) and I seen the stop sign and I had my foot on the brake.” Once again he performed the owl movement with his head.

“Judge (pronounced Jedge) just then come a big fart and I had to lift my cheek up to let it out you know?” Actually, I did know and had the scene seared in my brain. “I couldn’t hardly hit the brake with that old fart acoming out.” The courtroom burst out in laughter. My bailiff laughed so hard snot came out his nose, tears ran down the clerk’s cheeks, and I had to turn around in my chair and do the owl move myself.

Ten minutes or more passed before we calmed down. All the while the Frenchman laughed too enjoying the uproar he had caused and he still continued to swivel his head around to take in the audience reaction. I was earnestly hoping he had not eaten red beans and rice before court.

I composed myself somewhat and said, “Mr. Dedeaux I want you to know I believe every word you say, but look here fella we got a rule here in Gulfport. You are required to to swallow some Beno or GasX before you hop in a truck after you eat red beans and rice. Man, that stuff can be fatal. Now go pay that lady $40 bucks over there and remember in Gulfport DWF Driving while Farting is illegal.”

Justice was served once again.

Wes Teel

Law School and Other Surreal Experiences

I did not know what to expect when I began law school at Ole Miss. From the age of ten I wanted to be a lawyer. I didn’t know any lawyers. Oh, sure, I watched TV lawyers and foolishly thought being a lawyer would be glamorous. My first contact with the legal profession was when I knocked the crap out of a kid in the ninth grade.

The little bastard was picking on me all through the first half of a football game and about four play into the second half he kneed me so hard in the back I dropped my drink. I am not a violent person but even a cornered mouse will turn on a cat. I wheeled around and slugged him in the mouth … sort of accidentally dislodging one of his front teeth. The next day his dad was furious and that is how I met our lawyer in his office. I was impressed and I never heard another word about he incident. Now, that’s a lawyer. I was hooked.

My friend Greg from college was with me that initial day as we sheepishly entered the large courtroom that also served as an auditorium in Farley Hall – which will always be our Law School. The initial indoctrination and orientation for L1 students dragged on until a little firebrand piss ant named Professor Aaron Condon took his turn. “Look on your left and turn to your right. One, if not both, of those people won’t be here at the end of the first semester …” Greg suddenly became violently ill. His bladder almost emptied and his lower intestine became increasingly vocal. “Teel,” he whispered, “I’m out of here. I wanted to go to graduate school anyway.” He meant it too. I settled him down as Mr. Condon droned on and somehow Greg regained his sanity. But, he was a changed man after that day.

Ole Miss Law School – back in the day

We became even closer friends and had a two person study group meeting most days to compare notes and go over cases. Weekends were spent in the law library preparing for the next week. After that first semester we had the knack of law school and continued studying together. One cool Saturday morning in March I banged on Greg’s door and he shouted, “Go away. I’m busy till Monday. Go away.” That was strange but I complied. Monday morning I got a frantic call from him. “Teel, Teel, get your ass over here right now. Skip class. Don’t even get dressed. GET YOUR ASS OVER HERE!” I did.

Turns out my buddy had a lady friend from Memphis over for the entire weekend. They never left his apartment and perhaps never left his bed. She must have been something.

“Teel, I’m ruined.”

“What the hell is wrong, man?”

Meekly he answered holding his crotch, “I broke my dick. My dick is broke. It’s the size of a loaf of bread. Please look at it.”

“I am not looking at your dick.”

“I can’t go to the infirmary (on campus). Oh, God, they’ll know I broke my dick and kick me out of law school, and I can’t tell my mama anything about my dick,” he cried pitifully.

“Man I am not looking at your damn broke dick, I am not putting soothing lotion on it, I am not putting it in a sling, and I am not bandaging it either.” I said firmly.

Greg was truly desperate. He couldn’t pee, and he couldn’t even sit down, Class was out and no way would contract law cases prevail over penis problems. Finally, he hit upon the brilliant idea of going to a doctor in Tupelo an hour away. So off he went. How he drove there in withering agony I will never know.

Greg remembers pulling down his jeans exposing his swollen member. The doc took one look, then looked at Greg, then another glance at his “thingy”. “Wait on the table.” This is never a good sign. The doctor stepped out and after an insufferable duration he returned with his partner. This is never a good sign. The other doctor looked, and looked, and looked some more. Greg said he poked at it and then both of the doctors left the room. This is never a good sign. In a few minutes they came back with a medical book. This is never a good sign. Page after page they flipped as my buddy was sweating like a pasty faced freshman trying to order his first drink on the Square with his newly minted fake ID card.

Greg’s tortured mind envisioned the next step would comprise cutting off his penis to save his life – or what was left of his life. He was quite willing to go through with the procedure if it would just stop the pain. He later told me the pleasant memory of that Memphis girl would have sufficed him for a lifetime.

Finally, one of the doctors delivered the definitive diagnosis, “Son you screwed too much. You’ll live.”

“You’re not slicing off my dick”?, Greg whined.

“Well, you near ‘bout broke your dick, fella. But, nope. Ice that thing. It’ll go down.”

“Yeah, but will it ever go up again”, Greg begged?

It did – go down that is. And it must have eventually gone ack up too because I represented him in one of his divorces. But that is another story. This tale is my most memorable one from Ole Miss Law School.

The lesson here for all Law School students is simple. Study good. Screwing bad.

My wife once asked me if I ever wished I had taken a look at his dick. I kinda do, you know. I’m not gay or anything but any guy who won’t admit to stealing a sideway glance at the man standing next to him at the urinal is a lying dog. Just for comparison sake, of course. Looking back, Greg’s anguish, well, it may have worth one little quick peek after all.

Wes Teel

Adventures in Moving at Ole Miss …

When our granddaughter first arrived at Ole Miss we were already here. After we retired my wife and I decided to come back to our alma mater to live. Our granddaughter, Taylar, was undecided about where she wanted to go to college. We told her we would help her wherever she wanted to attend- except Mississippi State, of course.

After due consideration and having obtained a scholarship, she choose Ole Miss to our relief. She told us she had a sudden epiphany about coming here inspired by being able to immediately hit us up for the odd $20 or supper at short notice. Both of which she has availed herself of often. Factored into her decision was the unlimited availability of our washer, dryer and refrigerator.

That freshman year was a unique experience. She broadened her education by working at the desk at a freshman dorm. I was astonished to learn from her that girls sneaked their boyfriends in to spend the night, weekends, and other odd assignations. What happens in Vegas may stay in Vegas, but what happens at Ole Miss gets discussed and with time embellished beyond recognition. College drinking is I suppose a rite of passage, but at Ole Miss it is taken to soaring heights. On the town square “The Square” every Friday and Saturday kids wielding fake ids, confident attitudes, and eager looks invade the local watering holes. The following mornings are fraught with sickness and hangovers. You can track these novice alcoholics by the trail of puke back to their dorms.

Col Reb

Our memory of her sophomore year pales, but one episode stands out. She called us one day and asked us if we wanted to go to lunch (in college speak this means take me to lunch and pay for it). This is somewhat similar to asking to borrow twenty dollars. Both of my boys and my granddaughter have over the years asked to “borrow” money. That term is deceptive and I have yet to be paid back one cent. I could sue, but as to the boys the statute of limitations has long since run. As to the granddaughter, my wife would provide the defense.

We sit down. Taylar grabs each one of us by the hands – mine begin to sweat. “Nana, Pawpaw I have something to tell you”. My heart skipped a beat, my sphincter closed tighter that a vise grip. Visions of drug arrests, pregnancy, marriage, dropping out, or, God forbid, wanting to transfer to Mississippi State all flowed through my tortured brain. “I have decided to become a lawyer”, she blurted out. My wife began wailing, “Nooo, baby, nooooo, please noooo.” As the blood suddenly returned to my head I was so relieved I yelled out loud, “Yessssssss, Lord. I am saved.” People began to demand their checks and the waiter asked if I wanted a drink. “Not a double, but a quadruple,” I ordered. She has since decided to go to grad school, which is on the whole a better plan.

Wes and Myrna Teel a/k/a Pawpaw and Nana

It is an odd phenomenon, the longer a student persists at school the more stuff is accumulated. I will never forget Taylar’s sophomore year. She had an apartment on campus in an old building on a hill constructed at the beginning of the Cold War based in the plumbing and floor plan. But, it was her first apartment and she was thrilled. I discovered from the street to the top of the stairs on the second floor there are 67 steps. I know each one of them personally. Twice I lost consciousness hauling her baggage up them. Why does one person need 5 pairs of black tennis shoes (indistinguishable to me) or 11 pairs of black shorts, and no she isn’t a Goth!

The hilltop apartment was home for her junior year, but the Housing Department must have taken pity on me because they moved her to the side with a ground floor entrance. For awhile she was the photo editor for the Daily Mississippian student paper and an expert sports photographer. I begged her to just let me carry her photo equipment on the field but was met with a stern, “Oh Pawpaw”, which means NO.

Taylar and Qunaria

This year she and her roommate have moved into a nice apartment off campus. How can one person have so much danged stuff? It took me, her mom, her cousin, and my handy godson to get them moved (the second floor this time). Despite our best efforts she still has belongings at our house, in her storage unit, our storage unit, her mom’s house, her aunt’s house, and her car. According to her she could live out of her car for two months. I believe this. The back seat and rear of her Jeep are cluttered with stuff: old coffee cups, a partially eaten McDonald’s breakfast, part of a sign, three quarts of iced tea, gumbo mix from the coast, and well hidden fishing tackle. For all I know an immigrant family may be taking refuge there. Don’t tell Trump.

Wes Teel