How to Meet and Marry an Okie (part 3)


I’m telling the internet our story, the story of meeting a boy I met online and how over time we fell for each other and made it work across the miles. For part 2 click here.  To start at the beginning click here)hands

I stepped out of the airport and called Kel to let him know he could leave the stand by lot to pick me up. My hands were shaking as they pulled along my roller suitcase, what was I doing? Was my hair alright? But mostly… what was I doing?

I saw his Lincoln Towncar turning around the corner by the parking ramps, he pulled up and helped me with my bag, we hugged, got in because I don’t linger in airport pick up / drop off. I have an appropriate fear of the TSA.

I settled on to the leather seat of his car (appropriately known as the couch on wheels) and we looked at each other across the front seat.


It wasn’t awkward, it was exciting. It was butterflies and stolen glances and laughter.

We ate an insanely early dinner at the one and only Ted’s Café and Cantina and then drove around the University of Oklahoma’s campus before unlocking the campus ministry where he worked for a dance lesson.

One thing no one knows about Kel is that he is a classically trained ballroom dancer. Yes, really. And I am the least graceful person I know in real life. I walk into door jams on a daily basis, I misjudge table clearance and stub my toes hourly. It’s a little like always having a touch of vertigo I imagine.

So when he suggested dancing I laughed but remained open to the idea of being closer, trying something new.

He hauled out a boom-box (remember those?!) and we started practicing. I can’t remember what dance we tried or which song we danced to, I remember giggling a lot and feeling caught when his campus minister walked in on us.

There we were at 9pm dancing together in a mostly darkened building, me this stranger from the internet who flew in on a whim and was flirting with one of his Senior interns. Or whatever I was doing…

Yet I was greeted warmly by everyone I met in Oklahoma. Because Oklahoma is warm like that. Most of them didn’t even know I existed, turns out Kel was a bit more private about his internet/phone friend than I was.

Eventually we returned to his duplex (which had half a Christmas tree in the corner in September and was home to not only Kel and Andy but also a few families of mice, several of whom I had the pleasure of meeting) and true to his word Kel slept on the couch while I got the bedroom.

The next day he parked cars at the football game, then we swung by Classic 50’s (Norman’s premiere drive-in soda stop) and decided to take a drive out to his childhood home where did a little tour and I met his mom.

On the way home he reached for my hand and I knew it was coming, the air was thick with unspoken romantic possibilities, terrifying and exhilarating all at the same time.

We got back to his apartment and sat across from each other, the inevitable DTR couldn’t have been more obvious, it hung like a cloud.

What were we doing? What was this?

I expressed my concerns as graciously as I could manage, it probably sounded something like this: “You’re a methodist and I’m hard core non-denominational (oh the hurdles I used to think were a big deal) you love Taco Bell and I’m sort becoming health-nut and OH YEAH YOU LIVE IN OKLAHOMA and I live 1,000 miles away, I don’t see how this will ever work”

In my heart I knew that I couldn’t just date Kel casually, that things would escalate quickly and that we were starting in the middle of “getting to know you” journey.

I never game him a definite answer, but still we kissed a little… or a lot…ahem… yeah…

So the next few days passed in a blur, I can honestly tell you that I have no idea what we did except I know that we shot a movie for his campus ministry advertising an upcoming retreat in which I was the heroine and wore the most unfortunate bra one could wear in running scenes, and shorts. There was jiggle but the thing turned out great … if you asked someone who wasn’t be watching my jiggle in horror.

Eventually it was time for me to get on a plane and fly back home, I can’t remember who picked me up from the airport but I remember this distinctly. Kel called me after I landed and said “I guess it’s time to tell my friends that I have a girlfriend in Michigan.”

To which I answered: “I never said yes, I’m still at a maybe” (I know, tease, B, mean… I agree. Bad 22 year old Leanne, Bad.)

Even with all the kissing.. poor Kel…Bless him he hung with me, told me to take all the time I needed.

So I took a few months, we talked and he remained patient, until one night I called him at two in the morning

“Okay Yes”
“Yes what?”
“You know… my answer is yes.”
“Yes… yes you’ll be my official girlfriend?”

“Awesome, great news… yeah I’m going to go back to sleep though.”

I guess I deserved that.

To be continued…. 

  • Jill –

    I laughed out loud at your TSA fear. Solidarity.

    Loving this story!

    • Leanne Penny

      One time they found a paring knife in my bag and I thought I was going to get caned. #truestory

      • Mark Allman

        One time I was traveling when all this stuff started with them confiscating stuff and I had my beloved knife in my pocket that I had carried for years. I did not want to lose that knife. I did not have many options; I was traveling alone and my bags were already checked. I decided to go to the gift shop where they sold books and other travel stuff and I put my knife behind a stack of books. I retrieved it when I returned back home.

  • Rea

    I might have said ‘oh yay, part 3!’ when this popped up in my feed. I’m really enjoying the story!

    Also, I will join you in solidarity with being the least graceful person I know. I currently have several bruises on my arm from whacking it into whatever those push bars on doors are called. I don’t know if I just have an amazing lack of depth perception, or inability to judge where my body is in space, or if I’m just a klutz. But yeah, I walk into door jambs and tables and pretty much anything that doesn’t move out of my way.

    My husband doesn’t dance though. I wish that he did, I’ve always dreamed of taking ballroom classes with him. But he really, REALLY doesn’t dance. :)

    • Leanne Penny

      Thanks Rea! I am so glad people are into this. Klutzes unite!

  • Marvia Davidson

    loved reading this and your sense of humor! will be following these stories 😉

    • Leanne Penny

      Thanks Marvia! I am SO SO behind on writing lately so all encouragement is like chocolate for my soul.

  • Mark Allman

    Leanne, Kel,
    I continue to enjoy this series. I am sure your kids will enjoying reading this one day too!

    • Leanne Penny

      Thanks Mark! It will be like “How I met your mother” but shorter and with less Neil Patrick Harris. Sad… there should be more NPH in our story!