26 October 2003


the loving courtship of kathy russell and ken yanek

december 22, 1969
she met him at a bowling alley, where he was working. he said there weren’t any lanes available. she was with his friend lynn. after she left, he asked around about the mysterious blonde, but a mutual friend denied him access to her phone number, saying, “if you really want it, you can get it.” he called lynn to get the phone number of her blonde friend. lynn thought he was calling to ask her on a date, not kathy.

when he went to pick her up for their first date, which was a night at her parents’ house, he spent most of the night playing ping-pong with her father.

“he wore an old-man button-down sweater vest. i hate those,” she remembered. he felt it was “in vogue,” with leather trim on the pockets.

the first valentine he ever gave her said, “you’re one in a million, the wrong one.” he thought it was funny. she didn’t. he also gave her a stuffed rat so big she could use it as a pillow.

“i almost dumped him because he was sometimes annoying. but i figured i should stay with him because he wrote me really nice poems and i thought there must be something more than meets the eye.”

he said, “open the glove compartment. there’s something for you in there.” there was a necklace box from a jeweler’s. she opened it. inside was a rubber snake.

in the poems he wrote for her, with titles such as “true love was found” and “close your eyes and sleep,” he called her a “mystical woman” and thanked fate for placing them together.

for her prom, he wore black pants and brown shoes. she made everyone who took pictures of them not include his shoes in the pictures. also, he drove them to her prom in his brown dodge dart. her best friend’s boyfriend drove a camaro. she really wanted a man with a corvette. but she didn’t have a car so what could she say?

when he proposed, they were at bay park. a friend of his gave his fiancĂ© “a rock so big she couldn’t even hold up her hand properly.” this inspired ken to say, “here’s a rock for you.” it was a rock from the beach. he wrote “i love you” on it. he said, “this is your rock until i can afford a ring.” he gave her the ring a year later. they were going to buy it from the diamond exchange where he wore a hawaiian shirt and baggy shorts and sandals with socks and nobody would help them at first because who would expect a man who wore socks with sandals to buy a ring? but they didn’t buy it there because everyone told them what a rip-off the diamond exchange is so they got it down on canal street.

29 years later, they’re still married.

the bowling alley is now a toilet factory.

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