Friday, May 05, 2006

Here comes the bride, all dressed in...FURY.

There are certain events in life, that despite their inevitability are still shocking when they actually happen. You've planned for the possibility, deep down you know it's coming, yet when Arrested Development gets canceled or Britney gets knocked up with the spawn of Cletus again, it's still unsettling.

Which is why, when my sister called me yesterday and said that Joel asked her to marry him, I screamed, "HOLY SHIT!" in the middle of a crowded bus. Sure, it's better than yelling "Fire!" in a crowded movie theater, but probably still pretty distressing for the other riders.

If you look at the announcement objectively, it makes perfect sense. You've got two people in their early twenties who have been dating for nearly six years. They've lived together for four, had a dog for about three, and bought a condo six months ago. They're stable, in love and the families get along. Of course they're getting married. Why wouldn't they? It's the next step. But the thing is, it's Kali and Joel...and it's Kali.

Kali is one of those people who just kind of goes through life and never makes any sense. Ever. She's generally the drunkest and/or angriest person in the room--and that includes times when I'm in the room with her. And I know from anger.

While blinding rage is the personality trait that Kali and I share the most, it is indicative of a larger family trait. The Gallagher girls are nice people. Really, we are. We can even be downright nurturing at times. But we're not exactly the easiest people to get along with. While it manifests itself in different ways in the different sisters, what it comes down to is that if we perceive weakness, we will run roughshod all over you. These episodes can be intense, but brief, and dealing with us takes a great deal of patience and understanding. And Joel, God bless him, has patience that makes even saints feel inadequate.

He has the tremendous ability to just sit there, blissfully letting everything just wash right over him, chuckling occasionally to himself and burning DVDs. Because that, I'm convinced, is how Joel handles the stress of dealing with Kali on a daily basis. He will manically burn any DVD you put near him, a practice that has caused him to amass a DVD collection numbering in the hundreds, only half of which he's ever actually watched. But it's his happy place--the one place in his life where he has control over something.

Because Kali? Can't be controlled. Her most common response to any question is, "I do what I want." She constantly jokes about how Joel is totally gay and probably has AIDS. Every phone conversation I've had with her starts like this:

me: Hey, what's up?
Kali: What do you want, fucker?
me: Uh, nothing. I was just calling.
Kali: Oh. Your mother's a whore.
me: Oh.

And ends with her saying, "Okay, I'm done talking to you right now." and hanging up on me.

She's not a very sentimental person. When Joel calls her cell phone, the name that pops up on the screen is not Honey, or Pumpkin, or even, you know, Joel. It's Fatty, which is how she refers to him most of the time.

Despite all this, after nearly six years, their relationship is still the one to which I constantly aspire. It is based on love, respect and compromise. When they have a problem in their relationship, like they did when they were first adjusting to living together, they work it out. When Kali was mad that she had to work all the time and Joel just stayed at the apartment playing video games with his friends and making a mess, she would call me so she could come over and hang out and not have to deal with it. Then the calls stopped. When I asked her why, she said, "Oh. I talked to Joel about it. I told him what was bothering me and he said he'd try to make it better. We're going to the movies tonight." I was dumbfounded. She had a problem, and instead of letting it fester and blowing up at him, they had a conversation and worked it out. Who does that? They do. Over and over again. In short, it is the most mature relationship I have ever seen. The most confusing thing about the two of them is that together, they make sense.

Because of this bizarre and touching relationship, I'm getting a brother who not only puts up with Kali, but with the rest of us as well. He'll do favors for my dad, fix my mom's computer, and on my birthday, when I drink too much and generally act in a very unbecoming fashion, he'll make sure I actually make it home. He'll also take a picture of me passed out on his shoulder on the train so he can make fun of me later. Welcome to the family.

So to Kali and Joel: Congratulations, mazel tov and good luck. Just please, no babies yet. Because even though the relationship is solid, when I think of Kali with a baby all I can picture is her holding it all confused and uncomfortable. "Ahh, baby is so loud. Stop crying baby. Shut up! Joel, make it stop crapping everywhere ALL the TIME! God!"

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