I Don't Lavenny One But You
By Allison Lindsay
Title: I Don't Lavenny One But You
Author: Allison Lindsay
Spoilers: "Lenny's Crush," naturally, though I doubt there's a Lavenny fan who hasn't seen this episode.
Disclaimer: Laverne & Shirley would still be living in Milwaukee if I owned Laverne & Shirley.
Distribution: Ask and ye shall (probably) receive.
Summary: He is the Pepsi in her Milk-n-Pepsi, making her feel fizzy and dizzy and causing her arms to prickle with goose bumps.
I'll Be There with L's On
"You're a real pain in the neck, you know that, Len?"
Lenny Kosnowski pokes his fists into the pockets of his red satin jacket and wrenches his lips into a scowl. "Yesterday, you said I was a real pain in the butt," he tells her, head drooping toward his chest. He doesn't seem to be able to hold it up anymore. "Which one is it, Laverne? Make up your mind."
Make up your mind.
It's at once a demand and a reprimand - well, Laverne, do you want him or don't you? She's never been so indecisive. Everything has always been so cut-and-dry for her.
Yes or no?
It's two options.
It's too hard.
It's too easy.
It's two people who are ridiculously compatible in every conceivable way.
Laverne DeFazio doesn't want to see the similarities, though. That would make the answer obvious. So she looks for the differences - creates them, inflates them. Makes everything complicated because, in some strange way, things are more comfortable when they're complicated.
Whenever she rebuffs his advances, he goes out and gets himself another girl - the last one was some bimbo named Bridget - and Laverne feels dejected, discarded, dispensable.
Then she reminds herself that Lenny's little flings never last.
(Flings are, by definition, fleeting.)
She consoles herself with the knowledge that Lenny will be back.
(He is. Devoted, consistent, optimistic.)
Her head's whirling like a pinwheel and her nerves are imitating her Rice Krispies, snap crackle pop, and he's stalled in her doorway, unblinking, unmoving.
She doesn't shut him out but she doesn't let him in, either.
This is how they exist, in limbo, that invisible place between stop and go, somewhere and nowhere, platonic and physical.
Kind of like Shirley and Carmine, who, she now realizes, have been setting a very bad example.
Carmine has never been a yes or a no for Shirley. He's always been a maybe. (More like a maybe not.) Their relationship is a smorgasbord of contradictions: steady but unstable, sizzling but lukewarm, too good but not good enough. They have a past and a present but, as far as Shirley is concerned, no future.
Doofus DeFazio has been emulating her best friend, rejecting Lenny for the same reasons Shirley rejects Carmine: aspirations (make that exasperations) that are silly and shallow and just plain stupid.
That's why it's taken so long for Laverne to acknowledge Lenny as a human being, as a person with genuine relationship potential. Lenny isn't beneath her. In fact, he's several gigantic steps up from the guys she normally goes out with.
And the truth is... the truth is, Lenny is good to her and for her and with her.
He is the Pepsi in her Milk-n-Pepsi, making her feel fizzy and dizzy and causing her arms to prickle with goose bumps, a reality she's tenaciously denied.
She feels her body shifting, making room for him to come in, making room for them to move forward. "What do you like about me, Len?" she asks, and it's more of a supplication than a simple question.
Lenny grins. He looks confident, earnest, as though he's spent his entire life preparing an answer. "I like your pretty lips and wiggly hips," he says. They smile, together. "And I like how you're real smart most of the time and how you'd do anything in the world for Shirl and how you're a real good friend to me even though you ain't always nice to me and a lotta times you pretend like you don't even know me. And I like how you ain't afraid to stick up for yourself or your friends." He steps closer. She lets him share her personal space. "And I like how you like the same things I like, like sports and monster pictures and stuff. We really got a lot in common."
She nods. She knows. "Len-"
"You're me," he observes, "only you."
She nods. She knows. "Len-"
"And I like how you-"
"Not now, Laverne," he pleads. "I'm busy. I like how you... Great. Thanks, Vernie. You made me go and lose my place." He folds his arms across his chest, pouting like a little boy in timeout. "Now I gotta start all over again from the beginning. Let's see, uh, I like your pretty lips and wiggly hips-"
"Len, would you get to the part where you like me because when you ask me out I say yes?"
Lenny looks puzzled, and rightfully so. "Heh?"
"Ask me out, Len," Laverne requests. "So I can say yes."
Lenny's eyes speak of hesitation, reservations. "I kinda figured you'd only start wantin' me when I stopped wantin' you."
She shrugs, shoulders sagging like wilted flowers. "I wised up," she explains, and waits for the why, but why ask a question when you already know the answer?
They're standing toe-to-toe now, his boots touching her slippers. "So I'm gonna ask you out and you're gonna say yes and you ain't gonna go and change your mind on me, are you, Laverne? 'Cause women like to do that sort of thing. Squig says they can't help it. It's in their pants or somethin'."
Lenny pats the denim fabric wound around his thighs. "You got it. Anyway, uh, will you go out with me, Laverne? I'll take you to La Fondue and feed you." She can hear his heart striking his ribcage, whap whap whap, like a fist connecting with a punching bag.
Her face stretches into an absurdly broad grin. "Yeah."
Lenny's eyes glitter like a theater marquee. "Yeah?"
"Yes," she insists. She flexes on her toes and her lips seek his cheek and for the first time he doesn't turn his head and try to meet her lips instead. "I'll be there with L's on."
One L of a Girl
He follows her around like Mary's little lamb, unabashed in his admiration, unrelenting in his affection. He doesn't just look at her; he adores her. His lack of coordination, his desultory remarks, his tolerance for the intolerable - namely, Andrew Squigman - all seem to disappear when he's with her.
Even out in public, Lenny is the picture of propriety. In fact, he's downright debonair. He pulls out her chair and holds the door open for her, not because he thinks she's incapable of doing these things herself, but because they're just nice things to do. He walks ahead of her at the movie theater so he can warn her where the floor is sticky and she won't have to walk around her whole life with bubblegum and popcorn smushed under her shoes. He keeps his palm out of his mouth, even when she's all dolled up and looks like a bombshell, and his gaze hardly strays from hers when they're talking, even when she's wearing a peek-a-boo blouse and she knows he's dying, just dying, to take a little look-see.
She'd thought her friends would make fun of her for being with Lenny - she could swear she's seen them turn green.
But it isn't because they're disgusted.
It's because they're envious.
She suspects this is exactly how Shirley feels, too, but she doesn't say so because she knows that Shirley will deny everything. What's funny, though, is that ever since Laverne started seeing Lenny, Shirley started seeing a lot more of Carmine.
When Laverne revealed her feelings for Lenny, Shirley had shrieked and guffawed and made some crazy comment about a pork roast scheduled to arrive at the airport at 12 o'clock high.
And then Shirley did something utterly un-Shirley-like.
She gave them her blessing.
Laverne isn't one for sappy sentiments, but that's exactly what Lenny has been - a blessing.
Lenny's whispering to her now, wishes and kisses and words she can't decipher but she's pretty sure they're smutty.
"I don't get why they call 'em sweet nothings, you know?" Lenny ponders. "I think they should be called sweet somethings or somethin'."
Shirley would love that. Laverne will have to remember that and share it with her.
His arms wrap around her middle, like thread twining a spool, and he's going back and forth between necking and nuzzling.
"Do you always hold a girl like this, Len?"
"Not if she ain't you."
They've been dating for four months and he can't keep his hands off her. But it's a respectful touch - he's not pawing or pulling or petting - it's the contact he craves, she knows, and the comfort it instills. Once, she rebuffed his touch. Now, she welcomes it - appreciates, anticipates, reciprocates.
"I love you," Lenny says, but then his love shades into lust, and his irises, once gumball-blue, are now concealed by the pitch-black hue of his pupils.
"I love you, too," she returns, then adds, "You always look so horny, Len."
"That's 'cause I'm always lookin' at you."
Laverne has always doubted her sex appeal, has always thought improvements could made - her hair could be a little lighter, her teeth could be a little whiter, her waist could be a little tighter. "I don't always look so... desirable, Len."
"That's 'cause you ain't standin' in front of a mirror all day starin' at yourself."
Laverne snickers. She imagines herself stationed in front of the bathroom mirror, engaged in an interminable inspection of her reflection. Mirror, mirror, on the wall-
"You're the fairest of them all. You're beautiful."
He calls her beautiful all the time, as if it's her name. His compliments are plenty and profuse, always stated as the incontrovertible truth, never as a matter of opinion. He never says I think you're beautiful. He always says You're beautiful.
Since they've been dating, Laverne's posture has improved considerably. She no longer stoops to conquer.
"Laverne? I said you're beautiful."
She nods. She knows. "I believe you, Len."
When it comes to intimacy, Lenny never does anything without asking her first. He always requests her permission, and it feels like they're engaged in a never-ending game of Mother, May I?
They've been stalled at second base for eight months now, and Laverne is more than ready to round third and slide into home.
Lenny hasn't been stopping her - and she certainly hasn't been stopping him - but they haven't been encouraging each other, either. Every time they're on her couch or in her car, partaking in a little heavy petting and a lot of heavy breathing, wedding bells start ringing in her ears, and she knows he hears them, too.
Love and marriage, love and marriage... you can't have one without the other.
Laverne has only one thing to say about that.
She doesn't need some highfalutin ceremony to tell her that she and Lenny are committed to each other. They made it official the first time they said I love you.
"Me and Len are gonna vo-de-o-do-do," she tells Shirley.
Her chastity belt.
Shirley puckers her lips like a change purse and Laverne braces herself for a loquacious lecture on morals and matrimony. Shirley will voice her disapproval in no uncertain terms: "You and Leonard had better vo-de-o-do-don't, Laverne," she'll advise, because she means well, and because she thinks she's responsible for maintaining Laverne's reputation.
"Lenny won't be takin' my virginity, Shirl," Laverne says, and when Shirley's eyes stretch and Laverne hears the shriek before it even hits the air, she hastens to clarify, "I'll be givin' it to him." The color returns to Shirley's face, slowly but surely. "And he'll be givin' his to me."
Shirley sighs, shrugs, nods. "I assume you and Lenny will be taking all of the... necessary precautions?"
"Actually, I was sort of hopin' you could help me with that. You know, come with me to the doctor?"
Shirley sort of smiles. "All right."
Laverne and Lenny are in her apartment and she's damp with desire, resting on his legs like a child seated on Santa's lap. His arms are clasped around her waist like a belt, fingers fastened together like the buckle, and although he's kissing her with gusto, he's remarkably subdued about the whole thing.
"Your pop's gonna kill me, ain't he?"
Laverne has considered this, has envisioned Lenny's neck squished between the stubby, furry fingers of Frank DeFazio.
But Pop has been pretty accepting of their relationship. Granted, it took some time for him to adjust, but with a little guidance from Edna, he started to come around. Frank knows Lenny, knows he's decent and honest and crazy about his Muffin. Lenny may not be Italian - a lament she heard on a daily basis for the first month of their relationship - but he's familiar, comforting, like an old habit you try to break even though it's perfectly harmless.
"He don't gotta know," she says.
"You think Shirl will-"
"Well, I know Squig won't. I ain't tellin' him. He's always askin' if and when, but I just tell him it's none of his beeswax. That usually gets him off my back. And if that doesn't work, I just threaten to set his moths free or chuck all his toenail clippings out the window and he don't bother me about it no more."
She smiles, stands, extends her hand.
He takes it, holds it, brings it to his lips and kisses it.
She leads him into the bedroom, tugging on his arm as if he's a pull-toy.
"I made my bed this morning," she says, and shows him, "just so we could un-make it tonight."
He grins, but her smile smothers his as their lips link, and linger.
The kiss sears his lips, smears her lipstick.
She tastes teeth and tongue, chocolate and soda pop.
And she wonders if she can get a sugar rush just from kissing him.
Clothing is shed, torn away, tossed aside, like wrapping paper on Christmas morning.
His lips are moving lower - sliding along her jaw, gliding down her neck. Goose bumps speckle her skin - miniature dots, like the surface of raspberries.
She touches him, bare. His skin has a silky, supple feel to it, the texture of hair ribbons.
They look, for a long time.
Until Laverne decides they've looked long enough.
She grins, all impish eyes and impatient hands. She shoves the blanket back, settles onto the mattress.
Beside her, his hands drift along her body, from the knolls of her breasts to the knot of her bellybutton. His touch is tender and tentative, timid and timorous.
"Can I, uh, is it okay if I kiss you on your, um, well, in your, uh, leather regions?"
His cheeks are the color of pink lemonade and she's never seen him look so... raw. "Is that a yes?"
"Yes," she says, and sinks into the sheets, lust whipping through her as he makes his way to the Promised Land.
His nose nuzzles the whorl of curls, tawny-orange, like pumpkin pie. "You smell like a gingerbread house," he says.
"Stop sniffin' me, would you, Len?" she scolds through her smile. "You're a person, not a poodle."
His lips melt into her, his tongue etching treble clefs and Valentine hearts into the slippery ripples.
"You taste like gumdrops," he says.
She doesn't tell him to stop eating her.
She's starting to see colors behind her eyelids - spurts of red and white, bursts of green and purple.
Now he's moving, moving away from her, pausing to take what Shirley calls the necessary precautions. Then he's moving again, until his body blankets hers, until their limbs are entwined like a licorice vine.
"Can I, uh, you know, are you ready for me to... 'cause I'm gonna be real gentle, I promise, so can I, uh-"
"Come on in."
She doesn't experience the agony she's always been threatened with. She feels peeved, deceived, relieved.
It isn't much worse than getting a booster shot.
And the pleasure is well-worth the pain.
"Are you okay? Did I hurt you? Am I doin' it right?"
"I'm okay, Len. It ain't hurtin' too bad. You're doin' just fine."
It's a half-truth, but if she's completely honest, he'll think she's just trying to flatter him.
He's making love to her with affection, perfection. She comes first.
(Shirley will be pleased to know that chivalry is not dead.)
It begins with fizzy prickles - first at the soles of her feet, then swirling toward her ankles. Then they become something sweeter, little tickle-twitches that hustle along her calves, hurtle through her thighs, and catapult toward her sex.
There, the rapture peaks, and her body scrunches and spirals in spasms.
Lenny looks wowed and proud and she thinks that if he smiles any wider, he'll never be able to open his eyes again.
They continue to make love until they are no longer a composite, two disparate elements, but a singular entity, all the while exchanging sensations and sentiments - words that fumble on their tongues and tumble from their lips.
Let's make beautiful music together.
Laverne didn't get it before, thought it was all a bunch of baloney, nothing but a pick-up line - and a lousy one besides.
She's seriously reconsidering her position on that.
Shirley settles onto the couch and flips open the flap of her diary, pen at the ready to scribble smut in code. She hands Laverne her treasured plush cat. "Cover Boo Boo Kitty's ears, please," she requests, and her no-nonsense tone reminds Laverne of Sgt. Plout. "I'm not in the business of corrupting innocent stuffed animals."
Laverne doesn't chuckle or snicker or make a crack about Shirley's quirks. She simply does as her best friend asks.
"Now," Shirley says, inching closer until their shoulders are touching, "I want you to tell me everything. And don't you be stingy with the details, missy."
I Don't Lavenny One But You
Laverne always makes times for shenanigans with Shirley.
Sometimes, this is a point of contention in her relationship with Lenny, and she has to remind him that after Frank, Shirley is the most important person in her life and this isn't ever going to change.
He will probably never accept this, just like she will probably never accept that Squiggy is the most important person in Lenny's life.
Every so often, they argue about this - about rank. But Lenny doesn't like to fight with her. He's terrified he'll say something unforgivable and she'll break up with him.
Lenny hasn't quite grasped the concept of reconciliation - Laverne and Shirley have always had to mediate his squabbles with Squiggy - and he doesn't understand that problems can be patched up, that hurt feelings can be forgiven and forgotten.
Sometimes, she forces fights, incites quarrels about any little thing. Who loves whom more? How intimate should they be when one of them is sick? ("You wanna spend the rest of your life tradin' germs back and forth? That ain't gonna be much fun, Len.")
Bickering with Lenny is one of Laverne's favorite things to do.
When they fight, they're combustible - their chemistry just sizzles.
When they fight, they make up, make out, make it.
When they fight, he doesn't holler like her father or shriek like Shirley.
When they fight, he stops mid-tangent to remind Laverne that he loves her, because he never wants her to think that he doesn't, even for one second.
Lenny is worth fighting with.
And fighting for.
It's Sunday morning and her stomach feels sticky.
(It's two hours before church and they're in the vacant apartment on the third floor. Mrs. Babish knows they're in there some nights, but she doesn't tell Frank. It'll be rented soon enough anyhow, so they might as well enjoy playing house while they can.)
Laverne squints, tries to sit up on the mattress.
"Watch out! You're gonna ruin it. Sit up slow. Don't scrunch your stomach or nothin'."
Too groggy to gripe, Laverne follows his instructions to the letter.
And that's exactly what she finds: Lenny has drizzled Bosco on her belly, the syrup looped in the shape of her first initial.
"I put an L on you," Lenny croons, to the tune of the Screamin' Jay Hawkins ditty, "because you're mine."
Laverne laughs so hard her stomach starts to ache. Lenny often uses the words yummy and delicious to describe her. He has, on numerous occasions, informed her that she looks good enough to eat.
Perhaps she should have taken his words a little more seriously.
"Don't worry. I ain't gonna try and eat you or nothin'," Lenny assures her. "I'm not a cannonball."
At that, Laverne smiles and lies back down and lets Lenny enjoy his hot fudge Sunday.
They get married eventually, after days and months and years of love and lust and trust.
Just like Shirley and Carmine.
(They decide to make it a double.)
Now, when Lenny introduces Laverne, he says, "This is my life."
What he means - or what he means to say - is This is my wife.
But he never seems to notice this slip-of-the-tongue and she's long-since stopped correcting his malapropisms.
It's just as well, because when Laverne leaves Lenny a love note or a lust note or a thank-you note, and she closes with I don't Lavenny one but you, he always lets it slide.
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