Bradley’s are known for being for being a little peculiar. It’s not our fault, it seems to be in our genes. I would like to make the case, however, that Joel may be the most peculiar of all of us. I can still remember the day mom and dad brought him home. I didn’t know there could be more sibling life outside of Jaron, but there my parents were in the driveway holding this curly headed baby in their hands.
It was weird. It cried all the time and wanted to be fed and held at night and stuff. I vaguely remember when he got all excited when he was trying to walk for the first time. I feel like he kept falling over because he was too busy applauding himself for walking, but I was young so maybe I’m just making that up.
His weirdest mannerism, however, continued well into his early teens (if not later). He only knew how to sleep one way. He’d sit down, cross his legs and put his face in his lap and pass out. To make it weirder, he especially liked to sleep like this inside of cardboard boxes. It sounds like I’m describing a character that only makes sense in a cartoon that only he could write up, but he is what he is.
To expand upon his weirdness, there of course was the infamous time Dad took Jaron and Joel to jump off the garage roof into the pool (I just didn’t feel like it, I was plenty coo already). They had plenty of fun, of course, until mom got home. “JEFF! WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?” Heh. Mom… pretending she’s better than jumping off roofs. I have video evidence of the time she paid Joel to go jump on the trampoline in the middle of a hail storm! Video evidence!!!
But then again, there’s all kinds of video evidence of Joel’s bad decisions online. Please browse the video section of his Facebook page following tonight’s celebration to see some of these situations. He liked to make movies… a lot of them. There’s one where he pretends to jump out our upstairs window and then, using the magic of video editing, plummets towards the ground while yelling loudly for what seems to take 5 minutes. In another one he learned how to make epic graphics using Microsoft Paint. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen someone shoot a fireball out of their hands that was made in Microsoft Paint but it is… an experience.
There’s a video with a banana, a penguin suit, an evil cartoon rabbit, a genie, and there’s even one where he beheads his friend Erik. Though one of my personal favorites is still extreme stunt man, where Joel constantly repeats every word he says. “Today we’re gonna jump out a window. Jump out a window. Out a window.” At one part he tried to film a high speed car chase, but the editing wasn’t done well and it was clear that the car was going about 2 miles per hour.
We teamed up a few times to make some stupid videos. The one that got the most attention was called “Shut Up Joel.” All I did was walk around the house and wherever Joel was sitting silently I said, “Shut up Joel.” 1,800 views is pretty good for our stats. But the comments got weird:
LEGIT HIPPY: Joel just can’t shut the heck up!
RICK SIEBEL: I, Richard James Seibel, promise to make this video an internet sensation. May all the Joel’s of the world suffer a silent and undignified existence, from this day, through all eternity.
The internet is a dark place. I guess partially because our countless videos exist there.
Joel and I have become quite tight over the last 8 years or so, but that wasn’t always the case. In college I felt God convict me about my relationship with him. I was quite a jerk to him growing up and often treated him like a nuisance. Rarely did I say a kind word or treat him right. So one day while driving him home from somewhere, I worked up the courage to apologize, which took a lot of effort. What if he didn’t know I was a jerk? That’d be awkward…
Nah. He knew.
So I said sorry and something broke in me. From that day on, my relationship with him grew and I found that not only did he look and sound like me (yes, like me because I’m the original), but he acted very much like me too. We both had memorized every episode of Spongebob, Fairly Odd Parents and Drake and Josh, loved to make movies, and thought that comedy that made absolutely no sense was the best kind. Plus, we were both inferior to Jaron’s athletic skills and coolness and that was a much more bonding quality than you might think.
Jaron.. Always being cool all the time. Rude.
Joel also has a big heart. The past two summers Joel has lived in our basement and anytime he was awake (usually between the hours of 1pm and 4am) he spent much of his time helping take care of the kids. Beckett grew to adore him so much that “Goel” became one of his earliest words. Beckett would often run to the stairs while Joel was still sleeping and yell “Gooooel!!!!” Every time Joel shows up at our house, Beckett pulls out a lightsaber and expects he’s going to have some play time for awhile. Beckett’s also convinced that there’s monster’s in our backyard seeing as how Joel filmed a monster video back there with him, and then edited in a goofy-looking monster for Beckett to then watch back and see things that he didn’t actually remember being there in real life.
But his big heart hasn’t just been displayed for me and my family to see, he’s shared it with many of us here, including, of course, Alyssa. I remember when Alyssa was still a tiny little girl. I didn’t know much about her other than the fact that it was obvious that Joel was totally into her. I never really said anything, but I always thought to myself, Yeah, this is gonna work out. Of course, they were like 2 or something at the time—okay, maybe more like 15 or something, I dunno. But it was young love at its finest.
And then the Potter’s moved away and I was like, “Well, so much for that!”
Imagine my surprise when I came home from college one day to find that Joel and Alyssa were dating! Yeah, this is gonna work out, I thought to myself again, and then realized Joel was a weirdo and a nerd. Then I thought, Oh no… how’s he gonna break that to her? Hey Alyssa… I often make weird videos that make no sense… and sleep indian style with my face in my lap… and will jump on trampolines in hailstorms if you pay me…
Well it all worked out because it ends up that Alyssa is a pretty weird nerd as well. Malachi helped me realize it one day. “I’m always wondering how your brother got a girl like Alyssa, and then I’m like—oh… it’s the nerd thing.”
I mean, I’ve witnessed Alyssa’s nerdery over time, but I wasn’t fully aware of it until she started writing comics with her friend Jess about how life would be much cooler if it was a video game. I was even more surprised when she came over to our house to play Dragon Age. I didn’t know girls could get so angry at video games. And I have a feeling that what I witness was a toned down version.
These two are perfect for each other. Their nerdy pursuit after God and each other is a wonder to watch and we’re blessed to have you two unite our families today. I have loved spending the last year and a half worth of Thursdays with you guys. I could go on for much longer about both of you, but this is page 3 and other people have to talk, so I’m gonna pull a Joel and shut up now.