Prior to October 5th, 1991, the idea of Timothy Kaufman didn’t exist on anyone’s radar. Then, on a fateful night that unusually-chilly October, in a Sheraton Inn & Suites in downtown Cleveland, everything changed. For the first time, we put together the thoughts of all the players involved in your conception.
[Editor’s Note: All names and titles are as they were on October 5th, 1991.]
PART ONE: “When It Rains, It Pours.”
Jerry and Betty Kaufman had been married for two years in 1991. The pair were visiting Cleveland for the 1991 Insurance Adjusters of American Convention, where Jerry was receiving an award for “Most Adjusted.”
Jerry Kaufman (Your Dad): Did I think we were going to conceive a child during the Insurance Adjusters of American Convention? No. My mind was on the prize: Most Adjusted Insurance Adjustor in the Midwest Region. But there’s no sexier environment than a gathering of middle-management white collar professionals, so maybe I had a hunch.
Betty Kaufman (Your Mom): Things were good between Jerry and me, at least back then. I remember it as a special weekend.
Timothy Kaufman (You): Do I have to be interviewed for this?
Jerry Kaufman: This was no amateur hour convention. It had it all: a block of rooms in the Sheraton, very classy. Two-hour cash bar, domestic beer only. But most importantly, it rained all weekend. You know what that means.
Timothy Kaufman: You said you were working on a project about my family tree, that my great-great-grandfather was the first person to cross through Ellis Island.
Betty Kaufman: When it rains, it pours. Literally, it poured all weekend. We mostly stayed inside our room. Jerry likes two things. I’ll let you guess what one of them is, and the other is mini-golf. Well, let me say there wasn’t a putt-putt in sight, so you can imagine what happened.
Timothy Kaufman: Oh my God, I don’t want to know that my Mom said that. Was my great-great-grandfather even an immigrant?
Lloyd Mathis (Assistant Manager, Sheraton Inn & Suites): Betty Kaufman, wow. Now that was one heck of a woman.
Betty Kaufman: Lloyd, oh Lloyd…
Timothy Kaufman: Who the heck is Lloyd?
Jerry Kaufman: Now, I’m sure my wife, well…whatever we call each other now, I’m sure she mentioned that I like two things. Problem was, Cleveland doesn’t have any internationally-ranked mini-golf courses. So, I had to go to Plan B: I drove to Chicago.
Betty Kaufman: Thank God for Chicago.
PART TWO: “This Putt-Putt is a Disgrace to the Game!”
With Jerry driving the three hundred and forty-four miles to Chicago, Illinois, Betty had an entire Saturday to entertain herself. Alone in an unfamiliar city, she visited the hotel bar, where fate—and a half dozen Michelob Ultras—would change the course of your history.
Timothy Kaufman (on phone): Hey Mom, it’s me. Listen, do you know a guy named Devin Wallace? He’s asking a lot of weird questions and telling me some weird stories about you and Dad. Also, is Uncle Lloyd’s last name Mathis?
Jerry Kaufman: Mini-golf is serious. Any idiot can’t plop down a couple of windmills and call himself a course operator. I took a quick five-hour drive to Chicago to experience some quality gameplay.
Betty Kaufman: The hotel bar was right next to the gift shop, and I remember there were these t-shirts that said “Don’t Leave-land, Stay in Cleveland.” I’m sipping a Michelob, and suddenly the shirt is right in front of my face.
Lloyd Mathis: “Don’t Leave-land, Stay in Cleveland.” The shirt works every time.
Betty Kaufman: I see this man holding a t-shirt and grinning like an idiot. Maybe it was the beer talking, but I thought he looked a little like Clint Eastwood. But not Clint Eastwood then, when he was 61, he looked like Clint Eastwood now. Lloyd looked like a 91-year-old Clint Eastwood.
Lloyd Mathis: I have been alive for a very long time.
Jerry Kaufman: The problem with certain putt-putt courses is elitism, just because they’re ranked by the Mini-Golf Association of America, while you’re a card-carrying member of the more legitimate Putt-Putt Players Association. To make a long story short, and to abide by the conditions of my NDA, I was escorted from the premises. Let me just say: this putt-putt was a disgrace to the game.
Timothy Kaufman: What do you mean this is a multi-part piece? What IS this!?
PART THREE: “Friend, Confidant, Therapist.”
As Jerry was being detained by officers from Chicago’s Domestic Terrorism Unit, Betty and Lloyd were striking up a very close friendship.
Betty Kaufman: Did I love Jerry? Sure. I loved a lot of things. A warm chocolate chip cookie, two dollars off toothpaste at Shop N’ Stuff. And Jerry. I loved all those things equally.
Lloyd Mathis: I felt for Betty. Heck, I love chocolate chip cookies, coupons for household essentials, and over the years I’ve developed a certain kinship with Jerry. He’s not a bad guy.
Jerry Kaufman: I’ve been instructed by my lawyer not to disparage the fine men and women of the Chicago Domestic Terrorism Unit. I will say that I drove back from Chicago sans Putt-Putt Players Association card, which was never replaced by law enforcement.
Betty Kaufman: I just kept thinking, is this it? Is my life going to be conventions and Sheratons and warm hotel bar beers? There needs to be more in life, there needs to be someone who can give me more.
Lloyd Mathis: As a hotel assistant manager, I see myself as a friend, a confidant, a therapist. So like all of those three things, I invited Betty to my room. It has a beautiful view of the Cleveland skyline, as depicted in a mural on an abandoned meat-packing plant.
Betty Kaufman: I don’t want to go into specifics…but I’ll say that what needed to happen, happened, and the people who need to know about it, need to know about it.
Timothy Kaufman: Ok, but did she specifically say I should know about it?
Lloyd Mathis: Transience is a way of life in the hotel industry. You know that getting into the biz. People ebb into your lives like gentle waves and flow out, taking the sands of new experience with them. That’s also a line that works every time, almost as much as “Don’t Leave-land, Stay in Cleveland.”
Timothy Kaufman: I used that quote in my go graduation speech! Oh my God…
Betty Kaufman: I made a decision that night, and then I made a decision a month and a half later when I told Jerry about my pregnancy. That’s all I’ll say about it. “Life finds a way,” that’s what Lloyd is always saying, another one of his unique quotes.
Lloyd Mathis: Yeah, maybe I cribbed that one. Sue me.
[Editor’s Note: Lloyd contacted us shortly before publication asserting that “sue me” was meant to be metaphorical and he was not asking Universal Pictures to sue him over a stole Jurassic Park pickup line]
Betty Kaufman: Yeah, things just worked out.
Lloyd Mathis: We’re all here today, that’s what matters.
Jerry Kaufman: Finding out Betty was pregnant with my child was the second happiest day of my life. The first was when Timothy was born. With those newborn eyes, he looked up at all of us: me, Betty, and my best friend since 1991, Lloyd Mathis.