Is Steve Urkel the best boyfriend ever?


Steve Urkel

(From a series of letters I wrote to my son.)

Son, Family Matters turned out to be a really weird show. Firstly, the youngest Winslow daughter just sort of disappeared after a few seasons (Mr. Winslow, apparently, is not as dedicated a father as Liam Neeson). I don’t know: maybe it’s just me, but calling a show “Family Matters” and then having the family act as if their missing daughter never existed seems like a mixed message. (This is probably why I’m more of a Full House type of guy. That house was always full. Uncle Jesse even stayed there after getting married and having kids, making the house even fuller).

The other really weird thing about Family Matters is the whole Steve Urkel/Stefan Urquell thing. Urkel was a stereotypical (and perhaps the preeminent) 90’s nerd: large, thick-rimmed glasses, pants hitched up well past his waist, held up by colorful suspenders. He was maladroit and had a penchant for cheese, and his signature voice/laugh/snort captured the spirit of his character perfectly. He loved the beautiful Laura Winslow who naturally rejected him at every turn.

At some point in the show, Steve created and imbibed a “cool juice,” which transformed the nerdy Urkel into the smooth and suave Stefan Urquell. For a few seasons, Steve went back and forth between Urkel and Urquell until the writers decided this was dumb but not dumb enough, so they had Steve clone himself and turn his clone into Stefan.

I’m trying to think of another show that started out perfectly normal but then just went bat-crap crazy like that. I can’t think of any. It’d be like Danny Tanner’s dead wife coming back to life in Full House, only for the Tanners to discover that his wife was still dead, and the woman posing as her was actually a cyborg. Or if the spirit of Elvis possessed Uncle Jesse and everybody was okay with it (or for an ironic twist: no one noticed). Or if Stefanie Tanner really learned how to fly.

Anyway. The clone-turned-Urquell served as a solution, at least a temporary one, for the love triangle (square?) between Steve/Stefan, Laura (who liked Stefan) and Myra (who liked Steve). Laura got Stefan and Myra got Steve. Doesn’t that make Steve Urkel the best boyfriend ever? I mean, at the very least, he set the bar ridiculously high. Steve essentially changed his DNA, changed it back, cloned himself, then changed his clone’s DNA, to make two different women happy. How can any guy compete with that? When your mom and I were dating, I cleaned her car. Once. Clearly, I am not in the same league as Urkel.

Thankfully, your mom never asked that I live up to Steve Urkel. She never asked for a singular, spectacular act of love; she just asked that I love her unconditionally. When you find someone, I hope your relationship is full of love, not just acts. Grand, romantic gestures are sweet, thoughtful, and can be genuine expressions of how you feel for someone. But be wary of building a relationship solely founded on things like that. Incredibly romantic deeds don’t always mean things are going to work out. In Family Matters, the aforementioned relationships ended badly: Steve and Laura ended up falling in love with each other, and Stefan just disappeared (maybe he ended up with the forgotten Winslow daughter?). Myra went bonkers, obsessed over Steve, and I think she ended up in jail.

Lastly, here’s a tip. When you come up with the most amazing, romantic thing ever – hold onto it. Don’t use it right away. Do something else less romantic for your girlfriend/fiancee/wife.

Here’s the thing: women can give birth and there is nothing –nothing – you can do that can trump giving birth to your children. But you can at least thank her for that with the most amazing, romantic thing you can think of. So don’t use it on a one-year anniversary or a Valentine’s Day gift. Get her a puppy instead. Maybe clean her car, I don’t know. Just hold onto that most amazing, romantic thing until after your children are born, and remember to love her unconditionally in the meantime.

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