Freddy, Urkel. Urkel, Freddy.
"Nice to meet you," Urkel said.
"Hey, where are them suspenders and them big-ass glasses?" Freddy asked.
Maybe we should explain.
See, it's not often two child prodigies share their tales from the crib over dinner -- especially two nights before the Major League Soccer championship game, which Freddy Adu will play in today at the age of 15.
But Adu's friends and family thought it would be a good idea to meet a once-famous adolescent who grew up to be relatively normal. So, in one of the great L.A. Power Meal scenes in recent memory, Adu, the youngest team-sport professional in a century, dined with Jaleel White, the actor who played that nasally kid with the ridiculously large glasses and the yellow suspenders on "Family Matters."
Remember Steve Urkel and his annoying drone after each calamity, "Did I do that?" Yeah, well, maybe you just didn't watch enough bad sitcoms in the 1990s. Anyhow, they shared pizza and root beer at Chuck E Cheese. (Okay, it was a chic Beverly Hills restaurant and the tab for Freddy, Urkel and friends came to $400, but just go with it.) White is now a successful screenwriter at 27.
"I mean, he somehow found a way through the curse of the child actor," Adu said. "He gave me a lot of advice. He started acting when he was 13 and he didn't even know [how] much money he made until he was 16."
Did the tortured pianist David Helfgott try to talk Gary Coleman out of suing his parents and running for governor of California? No. Did Punky Brewster or the Olsen twins give Michelle Wie advice about turning 14? Uh-uh. Did Emmanuel ("Webster") Lewis counsel Tiger Woods about balancing marriage and career? Nope.
That's why they're all unbalanced and menaces to society.
But Urkel is making sure Freddy does not turn out weird, out of touch with people his own age.
This meeting of minds was important because today is the big game for Adu, Rockville's most famous and rich teenager. He makes $500,000 -- more than any MLS player -- before endorsements. For most of the week, he has patiently signed autographs during D.C. United's Freddy-Goes-Hollywood tour.
Astonishing, no? Months after his first game at RFK Stadium drew tens of thousands and a national viewing audience, it's still amazing to think of a child as skilled and good as many grown men. He scored five goals this season, including one that was named play of the year in a Nickelodeon survey. Okay, so most Nickelodeon viewers have never heard of another soccer player.
But still, Adu somehow skipped facing Takoma Park for the Montgomery County championship and finds himself going up against thickly muscled, experienced adults. United meets the Kansas City Wizards for the ninth MLS Cup title this afternoon at 3:30 p.m. Eastern on ABC, and it's almost apropos that Adu is here to play in the match.
After all, it was a year ago when Freddymania officially began. Knowing of his intention to play professionally in their league, MLS officials unveiled the boy wonder, propping him up at every press and corporate function. They paraded Adu around last November like Pedro Martinez paraded around his 28-inch actor during the baseball playoffs.
"Come See the Young Ghanaian Phenom Save Our Financially Strapped League! Freddy, the Bearded Lady and the Dog-Faced Boy -- all in one tent for $3!"
It's hard to yell exploitation when his mother, Emelia, is given a new SUV and a $10,000 bed to sleep in. Or when Nike gives you free shoes and Audi promises you a new car once you get your learner's permit. Corporate sponsorship, even for the young, is a use-use proposition.
But let's be honest about the tradeoffs: Most 15-year-olds don't end up causing a ruckus for attending a University of Maryland frat party during the season, bringing their mothers to tears.
Not many wind up at the most prestigious sports school for children at the same time as Wie, the golfing sensation, and tennis's new It Girl, Maria Sharapova. Freddy's mother was persuaded to send her child to live in Florida at the IMG Academy, which is essentially Prodigies "R" Us.
Not many have NFL players Byron Leftwich and Fred Taylor sending their IMG brethren messages of good luck before the big game. And not many have Will Ferrell and Robert Duvall waiting to meet them after a game, either, like Freddy did the last time he played here at Home Depot Center.
"I've met so many famous people, Will, Robert Duvall," Freddy said. "I'm living the good life, what can I say?"
To maintain a little perspective, Trevor Moawad, who is the Associate Director of Mental Conditioning (re: sports shrink) at the IMG Academies, came up with the idea to put White and Freddy together.
"He told Freddy, 'Allow yourself to be young,' " Moawad said. "He said, 'Things that present themselves to you now will be there in four years.' He told Freddy not to splurge on his first car, just to get something simple and get something nicer later. It was really thoughtful stuff."
Urkel, all grown up, dispensing advice to child prodigies. Who knew?
More important: Who paid?
"He paid for everything," Emelia Adu said.
Dinner on Urkel. Nice. Freddy was kidding about the good life.