Monday, March 19, 2012

Wherein My Dad Is The Guest Blogger

Ladies and gingersnaps, we have ourselves a first, here on Gingersnaps in the Morning. A guest blogger! But this isn't just any guest blogger. This is my dad! (who is responsible for my neurosis/sense of humor)

My dad, Dr. Marvin C. Mengel, is an Endocrinologist and Diabetes Specialist who began his practice in Central Florida in 1973 after graduating from The Johns Hopkins University of Medicine. In addition to practicing endocrinology, he has obtained a law degree and assists physicians with health law and malpractice issues. He is also an Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of Florida. No longer in private practice, he works as Medical Director of a Central Florida Hospital System and has written and lectured extensively for both lay and professional audiences on a variety of topics including his favorite, the health value of humor. He is currently writing an e-book entitled, "How To Choose A Doctor (And Keep Them From Killing You)"

He is the only child of Marvin, who was autistic (Asperger's Syndrome), and Verna, who suffered from mental illness. (keep this in mind while reading the story)

His post today is a humorous retelling of a very awkward phone call he received from his parents, not long after he married my mother. This is a true story.


"You need to get your mother an abortion."

The phone rang….it was 2 AM . I was in medical school, recently married, and had been soundly sleeping.

Were you sleeping?I heard my father's voice say.

I was tempted to say: “No. I was having wild sex—but the likelihood of that was too low to even be a humorous comment...

"Yes, but go ahead", I answered instead.

There followed three "I’m sorry I woke you's" in such a way that the ‘right’ response from me was to be …"no, I was awake before you called.

But I defiantly persisted …"I WAS sleeping, but am awake now, so go ahead."

Sonny, I need you to do one thing for me. I will never ask for anything else. I will sign the house over to you right now. Just this one thing.”

I had no idea what he was talking about. So I asked, "What is it that you want me to do?"

He answered, "You are our only child—everything will be yours and I will sign the house over to you now…"

(Asking him what he wanted me to do fell on deaf ears…)

He kept going back to saying I needed to promise I would do “IT”-as if everyone knew what “IT” was…

Finally after going back and forth for what seemed like an hour, though was actually all of 5 minutes, he let me in on the secret---telling me as though I must be an idiot for even asking…

You need to get your mother an abortion.” he announced firmly.

I knew my mother could not be pregnant, and it was all I could do to prevent uncontrollable laughter.

I had been with him when, years before, a psychiatrist interviewed him about his sex life. I can vouch for one sexual experience they had. I doubt there were ever others.

I initially tried to assure him that my mother was not pregnant.

My father’s hard head disagreed.

She missed her last period.’ He blurted, as if he had just found the answer to a game show's million dollar question… My mother at that time was in her late 40s. I tried to reason with him explaining that many women at that age miss a period and are not pregnant. None of that registered with him.

I could hear my mother in the background scolding him, blaming him, and being in a state of near panic. This was an opportunity for her to enjoy two of her favorite things at the same time:

‘Worrying’ which ranked just above praying; and blaming my father, which was a bonus sport.

He almost chanted “just this one thing---you can have the house…”

I did the only thing I could at that point. I needed to assure myself of the diagnosis.

I spent the next 45 to 60 minutes asking him specifically what part of his anatomy he had placed in what part of my mother's anatomy.

The conversation went something like this:

Son: Lets talk about your penis…”

Father: "Just this one thing—why won’t you do this one thing?" …as if the word penis had not come up---

Son: “This is Important---focus on your penis.”, I tried to insist

Your penis, did it get hard?

Father: "But I don’t see why you won't do just one thing for us!" he would blurt whenever I paused to breathe…

Son: “Tell me about your penis…DID IT GET HARD?”

The term "hard" took explanation—I had intentionally avoided the term, erection!

Apparently his penis had grown hard. OK we are making some progress…

More questions followed, each initially answered with ‘Why wont you do this one thing?"

I persisted---What did you do with it?", I asked adding “your penis” for clarification I was not sure was needed.

Where did you put it?Did you have clothing on?Did you put it in her?.

Did anything come out of it?Was another question. I feared the term ejaculate would have pushed him over the edge.

Forty-five minutes of this kind of conversation left me absolutely convinced that my parents had not had sex.

My best guess was that during one of my mother's sleeping pill/pain pill stupors, my father had laid down beside her, had an erection, and possibly ejaculated, though the latter is not entirely clear.

But it's clear that he never penetrated her vagina and that she, unless her name was Mary (and I had a famous brother) was not pregnant.

He seemed minimally relieved and totally embarrassed at the end of the conversation. I think he accepted my comforting words mostly because he was afraid I would ask even more probing questions. I told him we would wait another month and then have that conversation again if necessary.

He never brought the conversation up again and when I asked several weeks later if she had had her period, my father simply said, "Everything is okay, don't worry about it.”

As if my worry was ever a consideration.

-Marvin C. Mengel, M.D.


Remember, these are my GRANDPARENTS he's talking about. Two people responsible for 1/2 of my genes. I think this explains a lot, don't you?



  1. "Focus on your penis..." I am so using that line one day.

    Great story... It reminds me of Running With Scissors; we all have a story that defies explanation but must be told and preserved because truth is stranger (and better) than fiction.

    My family stories pale by comparison. Sure there's the murderous great uncle, gambling grandpa and another who ran numbers for the mob but that's just par for the course for a NY Sicilian.

    Love you!

    ~ Spank

    1. And I thought you were just kidding when you joked you had family with ties to the mob! *checks trunk for horse's head*

  2. I actually hurt from laughing! Your poor Dad...there a some questions that you never want to have to ask your parents and, "Did you put it in her?" is absolutely one of them! I'm cringing in sympathy.

  3. What a funny and brave story. Huge (((hugs))) to your Dad for sharing this with all of us. The daily care of our aging parents is not a topic that most of us willingly face but this is such a great reminder that there is humor in every situation.

    Julie, your humor gene is dominant!

  4. Yep. That story definitely explains a lot about you Julie ;)

  5. I find this absolutely fascinating, especially since I am raising an autistic child. I would love for him to write a book about what life must have been like to be raised by an autistic father and mentally ill mother.

    1. Sharlene, I'm encouraging him to write a book as well. There are so many more "stories" like this and I think it's inspirational for him to share how he was raised, how he was able to overcome adversity, and in the end, how he was able to get closure after they passed away last year. Back then they didn't diagnose my grandfather as "Autistic" but after the movie "Rainman" came out I remember us all saying, "That is just like Pop Pop!". We've deduced he probably had Asperger's Syndrome, as he was a genius at math.

  6. what an incredible story! loved it

  7. I am in love with your father. He reminds me of Martin Amis in The Rachel Papers. Your father must read this immediately. It, I believe, may surpass your father's hilarity, but only by 1/4 inch. Yes, that's a penis inference. I believe I used inference correctly, as compared to your grandfather's use of his...ok ... I won't go there.

    1. LOL Awesome!!! I will have to look up The Rachel Papers! I'm telling my dad he needs to write a book about his life. There are so many "you can't be serious" stories with his parents that he simply must share them!

  8. OMG I love this story! HILARIOUS!

    Just do "it!"

    When do I get to meet your dad!?

    1. Whenever they come out, we will get you guys together with them. He already loves our Mommy Hates Chemicals blog, so he would LOVE to meet you. Not to mention, he'd love to talk "guns" with Conan.

  9. Wow, that was quite a story! I should have left this post as my last read for the night, so I could go to bed chuckling. Hilarious! If the upcoming ebook is filled with these kinds of anecdotes, it'll be a best-seller!

    1. Thank you Tisha! His book will indeed be choc-full of anecdotes! :)

  10. As a fellow Hopkins grad I gotta say that half the people at that school have family members with Aspergers and mental illness. The other half ARE those family members. What a great retelling of his story!

  11. Wow.....LOL! I am too speechless

  12. Just ... WOW! Absolutely loved this! Can your dad guest-blog again??