In a little over a week, KT will join me and several others we know who have hit the much feared but actually harmless four-oh this year. Upon recent reflection, the fact that we are both now "at the age" hasn't been nearly as ground shaking for me as the realization that she and I have now been "in a relationship" (in Facebook terms) for greater than 50% our our breathing moments. I vividly recall the first words she ever said to me ("Excuse you") and the first words I ever said to her ("It wasn't me, it was him!"), but that is a story for another time and KT doesn't remember it anyways. Our second conversation was a little smoother and took place almost exactly 21 years ago, during our sophomore years at GAC. Gustavus had (and maybe still has?) a ritual early in every year called "Mystery Dates" where you were to set up your roommate on a date with a mystery person and then everybody went on a giant group date bowling or to a dance or whatever. The intent was to get people to get to know one another, make new friends and have an easier time adjusting to college life. It was great in theory and from what I recall (alcohol may have been involved), a lot of fun. Anyways, knowing nothing more about her than a nickname (more on this later), my buddy Chris and I decided that we would try to set KT up with our friend Nick for Mystery Dates. We saw her in the caf one day, decided there was no time like the present, and approached her as she was grabbing her silverware. The conversation was as follows:
Chris/I (I don't remember who actually said what): "Hi - we are Chris and Paul. We were wondering if you would be interested in going to Mystery Dates with our friend Nick."
KT: "Oh, you mean Misery Rapes?"
At this point, I figured we made a huge mistake and had just subjected ourselves to a lecture about how Mystery Dates objectified women and were nothing more than organized rape and blah, blah, blah. Instead, this is what KT said next:
KT: "Sounds good to me. Who did you say I was going with? I'll bring Bacardi."
I fell in love immediately.
So anyways, here we are 20+ years later. KT is still up for anything and will still bring the Bacardi. So, in honor of her birthday, the following is a small sampling of some of what I have learned from KT over the years:
1. Not every girl has the same definition of a dream home. Say "dream home" and, for 99.9% of the population, a large home with a pool and all the modern amenities springs to mind. Not so much for KT. For her, a dream home consists of a double wide trailer. Seriously. KT has dreamed of living in a trailer her entire life. I actually caved and gave it a try shortly after we were married. I lasted about four months before I told her I was moving and she was welcome to join me, which she reluctantly did. Since then, we have never (and I mean this literally) driven past a trailer court without KT saying something along the lines of how desperately she wants to live there. Regardless of how meth-infested it may look, for KT it is Shangri-La. I do not now, nor have I ever, understood it. I do know, however, that it is genuine. She is not attempting to be humorous or ironic. She truly pictures her dream home in the middle of a trailer court which could serve as the setting of a sit-com. The same is true for vacations. Five star hotels in bustling cities or awe-inspiring chalets in the mountains are not for KT. Give her a trailer and a week of boredom to truly make her happy.
2. Proper hydration is important. Whenever the kids or I mention any sort of discomfort, whether it be a headache or a sore foot, KT will immediately follow with "Have you had enough water today?". If we are foolish enough to challenge her and point out that whatever ails us has no connection to the amount of H2O we may or may not have ingested that day, we can count on a lengthy and thorough explanation of why the ankle we may have sprained playing basketball is indeed worse because without the replenishing electrolytes water provides the body does not heal properly. Or something like that. Quite honestly, I rarely stick around long enough to hear the explanation as it is far easier to just go pour myself a large glass of water. KT's insistence on water as the cure-all elixir has even caused her nickname (mentioned earlier) to morph. In college, her love and talent for dancing had earned her the nickname of "Gyrate Kate" which she embraced fully rather than saw as denigrating (much to her credit). In fact, several of our college friends who were and are very dear to us but we see far too infrequently will still greet her with "Gyrate". It is a term used with endearment, so I never have the heart to inform them that "Gyrate Kate" has been replaced by "Hydrate Kate".
3. Halloween is a pretty important holiday and should be treated as such. Like any kid, I loved Halloween. Dressing up and receiving unhealthy amounts of candy while staying up past your bedtime? Awesome, sign me up. I even get the appeal of Halloween for the early drinking years crowd - any costume can be made slutty, enormous quantities of booze are consumed and acting like a complete jackass is not only accepted, it's expected. I always assumed, however, that as I aged Halloween would become more of an afterthought or even a nuisance. For KT, Halloween has only grown in awesomeness as the years have gone by. She spends the entire year imagining and planning incredibly intricate and amazing costumes, changing what she is going to dress up as so many times that she usually ends up a week before as the only person without a costume. Despite this, she never fails pull off a costume which puts all others to shame for originality and execution. It doesn't matter if we are having a party, going to the bar or just staying home and handing out candy, she will knock a costume out of the ballpark. It's a gift that has kept the magic of Halloween alive for me all these years and I'm thankful for it.
4. You don't need a degree to be a doctor. Around these parts, she is known as Dr. KT. As mentioned before, KT can quickly diagnose and treat most medical problems with water. If, however, you can adequately prove to her that you have indeed consumed at least the minimum recommended daily amount of water, she quickly will switch into doctor mode and will, within minutes, diagnose and recommend treatment for your problem using nothing but her mind and possibly a recollection of a television show (Oprah, Dr. Phil, House, ER, even Real Housewives - it doesn't matter) she once saw. The fact that she will offer her expertise isn't the amazing part, however. The fact that she is absolutely correct in her diagnosis 98% of the time is the part that blows me away. Whether obvious (she once diagnosed me with a broken nose based solely on the fact that the tip of my nose was pointing at my ear) or exotic, KT will swiftly and accurately tell you what is wrong and how you can cure it at a fraction of the cost that someone paying off years of medical school will charge you. Just don't ask her to actually treat you - the sight of blood makes her pass out. After diagnosing my broken nose, she immediately looked away complaining of light-headedness. She then laughed and said something along the lines of "you idiot, we ARE NOT paying for another nose job for you until you quit playing basketball". So, I guess you can add compassion to aversion to blood and a degree as the only things that separate KT from a doctor.
5. Finally, and this one will be really difficult to explain, but over the past twenty years I have learned that KT's thought process and consequently conversations, as erratic and scattered as they often seem, do actually follow a brilliant logic. It's as if she is speaking a language all her own (she has even diagnosed herself in this case, claiming she has KDD. It's like ADD, but her own special kind). She will flow from one topic to a seemingly completely unrelated topic onto yet another completely different one without ever slowing down or even breathing. Just when you have given up hope, however, she somehow ties it all together in a way that may be at first confusing, but once translated is brilliant and beautiful and hilarious. Some people (such as her mom and friend Sara) are able to immediately follow along, nodding in agreement or laughing hysterically while I sit back completely befuddled until the light bulb finally comes on for me or someone will explain it to me in ways my linear mind can comprehend. I've gotten much better at it and have learned to allow her to finish before claiming she doesn't make any sense. It's difficult at times, but incredibly rewarding. I'll leave with the perfect example. I received two texts from KT today. On the surface, I have absolutely no clue what she is talking about or why she chose to share them with me. I know, however, that when she gets home they will tie together in some amazingly poetic thought process. The texts were:
11:58 AM - "I was shoving a stick up the ass of a mannequin"
and, one minute later, without a response from me,
11:59 AM - "I am thinking borscht for dinner..."
I can't wait to find out what the hell she is talking about.