How to Meet and Marry an Okie (part 2)

This is chapter two of my little blog-novel about how I met my Okie husband on the internet machine. For chapter one, click here. 


Leanne and the infamous road trip Lincoln.

The phone calls with Kel started at “just this once” and then “only for special occasions” but as good things tend to do, they became an addiction. We started talking to each other every other night, for at least two hours.

I think “every other night” was an unspoken rule. We’d never met in person and we had no idea what “this” was so every night phone calls would be crazy, but every other night was normal… or at least less insane.

We’d have to wait until his evening minutes kicked in and we never indulged in daytime calls unless it was an emergency. We had email and AIM for that and he didn’t want to get in trouble with his mom for using too much from their share plan. Cell phone rules used to be so quirky back the days when we actually called people

So every other evening I’d crawl into my American Flag day bed (Yes, really) and wait for him to call, and at 9:01 like clockwork his number would light up my little flip phone.

And we’d talk about our days
We’d talk about God
We’d talk about our families
We’d talk about random things like “if you could have a farm with four corrals of animals, any animals you’d choose, what would you have and why?”

FYI Kel would have all beavers, because he wants to see what it would be like when they stampede.

We figured out how much I hate the word penetrate... A lot… by the way… just typing it made me feel icky… 

Sometimes on the weekends he would talk to me as I delivered pizzas, I’d update him about the weirdness of people and how much they did or didn’t tip.

The one night, inevitably I suppose, we discussed the idea of meeting in person. He was planning a cross country, seminary tour road trip with his best friend and was planning to be in Ohio and Chicago and “could he come up and meet me, no expectations?

We’d always joked about how we’d never meet in person, and suddenly all that was changing.

I have no idea what I said, probably “sure” or “yes,” but in my mind I was nervous. This was getting real! Meeting him in only a few months?

I had no idea what we had but I was really scared of screwing it up and losing it. Kel was this voice on the other end of the line, these words on the other end of the computer screen… this person I’d never met who understood and cared more than most I’d met in real life.

Of course I “wanted” to meet him, but…

I was so nervous about it that when the time came, I ran down my immune system and started feeling that preemptive nasty cold sore throat just hours before he pulled into town.Still, I gulped down some medicine and drove to our designated meet-up spot, calling my friend and coworker Amy on the way for moral support.

I pulled up, Amy stayed on the line to be sure that I wasn’t going to get kidnapped by a serial killer.

I got out of the car and he walked out of the house where he was staying, wearing a gray button up shirt and khaki cut-offs pants he’d made himself. They were fraying at the bottom.

And then there we were, saying hi and hugging and so nervous about things that we could hardly speak.

I ran back to my phone to let Amy know I was not being kidnapped… our plan was fool proof, obviously.

If I’m honest, it wasn’t bells and whistles, it was one of the most awkward moments of my life. We didn’t know how to do face to face, we knew late night phone calls and AIM flirting and here we were face to face for the first time yet already knowing each other’s deepest junk.

Yet we sallied forth and went out for dinner. I’m pretty sure I talked to his friend Andy more than I talked to Kel and he spent the meal smiling and flicking straw wrappers and napkin balls at my head like a first grade boy. (yes, really.)

After dinner, we headed back to my parents house to play cards and eventually parted ways for the evening.

The next day I took them to Lake Michigan and we went to our first movie in the soon to be demolished Studio 28 where his friend got us free popcorn and Nachos. We watched Shrek 2 and he gained gold stars for letting me eat most of his nachos after I tanked my own.. I mean who has brakes for free nachos? No one that’s who. 

That night we said goodbye, hugged and went our separate ways. I was supposed to accompany them to Chicago to the next day day but instead I ended up staying home instead, my sore throat had turned into full blown sick.

I thought it was goodbye forever. That wasn’t kismet, or movie worthy at all… it was sort of awkward, I wondered if we would even keep up the phone calls. 

He didn’t call much in the next few weeks because he was on the road finishing his seminary-tour road trip.

But then, one night he did and we resumed our every-other phone call thing like nothing had changed between us, like nary a straw wrapper was flicked.

Summer came and clicked along and we grew closer, over the phone and in emails. This was our jam. I’d never encountered anyone in my life who seemed to be so into me, who got my crazy and for some reason kept coming back for more? What the what?

Labor Day weekend rolled around and I had this urge to hang out with him, it was insatiable.. but there were serious barriers, the 1,000 mile variety.

1) It was Friday and I had no way to get to Oklahoma, surely holiday weekend tickets would be astronomical.
2) I was scheduled to work 3 jobs that weekend / next Tuesday (Pizza, Desk Job, Delivering Papers)
3) I had mentioned NONE of this to Kel, how much crazy could he take?

So I shot up an arrow prayer that went something like this: Okay God, if you want this to happen: All of my bosses have to be cool with me not working, the ticket has to be less than $200 and Kel has to be free for a visit.

Within the next 30 minutes every stipulation was met and I had booked my ticket to Oklahoma City.

I didn’t have to fly out of Chicago or Detroit, the first search I made on Hotwire was a ticket leaving the next morning from Grand Rapids into Oklahoma City for only $199.

So I called Kel and it went something like this:
“Hey what are you doing over Labor Day weekend?”
“Parking cars for the OU game and that’s all I HAVE to do.”
“Can I come visit?”
” Tomorrow? That’s weird, you know that? Like tomorrow, tomorrow? I won’t have to time to arrange for you to stay with a girl friend but I guess I can sleep on the couch. Uh, sure. Why not?… this is weird.”
“I know, I just really want to hang out.”

So I booked my ticket, dyed my hair bright red… because brave things call for brave hair… and boarded a plane to Oklahoma City the very. next. morning.

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  • Mark Allman

    I love this story.

    I think you and your friend Amy should tour America teaching people everywhere how not to get kidnapped. Surely your technique would help one person… maybe… :)

    I love this sentence “I’d never encountered anyone in my life who seemed to be so into me, who got my crazy and for some reason kept coming back for more? What the what?”

    What the what is this is what love does to you and for you.

    I like how bold you were on that Labor Day Weekend. Kel must have felt so honored that you did that for you two.

    • Kel “The Kel” Penny

      Mark, I would say that the feeling was way more awkward than it was honored. I mean, it was cool and it was a great weekend (don’t want to give away the next installment). But I was like “oooooooooooooooook?” when she called and asked.

    • Leanne Penny

      What the What indeed! And yeah he was more shocked than honored but changed his tune within minutes of picking me up…

  • megan w

    “That’s weird, you know that?” and yet he said yes. Haha, that is so awesome!! Sometimes you just need to be bold and make a move. :-)

    • Leanne Penny

      Brave pans out! Except when it doesn’t. In this case I’m thrilled that it did!

  • Brenda W.

    Loving this! It’s reassuring in a weird way that your first meeting was super awkward, yet everything worked out. :)

    • Leanne Penny

      Thanks! I agree… nothing starts out perfect.

  • Rea

    I’m loving this story (I’m a sucker for ‘how we met’ stories). Brilliant plan there for not getting kidnapped…don’t see any problems with that at all. ;D

    • Leanne Penny

      Right? Foolproof!