FIC BY AUTHOR..FANART..
A Forenote: remember, kids, you don't HAVE to use this sheet OR write Lenny as is suggested here. But if you're looking at this page, then I assume you want some tips. Remember, however, that I take concrit.
The Polish Bobby Vinton-All You Ever (Never?) Wanted to know about Lenny Kosnowski
Lenny Kosnowski; that's a name written more in the content of this site than any other character's name. He's more popular with female fans of the show than any other character, outside of the girls themselves, and is the only character to receive such avid attention of many lovely Mary Sues -the total's around seven or eight girls as of this writing, to Squiggy's two and Carmine and Frank's zero.
Lenny is simultaneously the easiest character to understand and the hardest to take out of the box fanon has slipped him into. Even if you don't indulge in the most popular pairing on the site -that'd be Laverne/Lenny (the only 'ship to have a pairing name: Lavenny) - he's a major part of Laverne and Squiggy's lives. Even if you're writing a Frank/Edna AU where they colonize the moon (*) you're going to need at least one minor appearance by the big guy! You need someone to carry the luggage, after all.
Here are some facts, tips, guiding lights and nudges-in-the-right-direction when it comes to writing about Lenny. If you have something extra to add, the thread to respond to the bio is HERE.
Age: Anywhere from 20-28, depending what episode you're watching.
Likes: Bosco, Sports, Monster Movies, Songwriting, Dead Iguanas, Saying Hello To Old People, Sen-Sen, Shadow Boxing, Making Out, Squiggy.
Dislikes: Being Lied To, Linoleum, Being Abandoned, Marshmallows, Swimming, Flying, Elevators
Is: A natural blond
Often Seen With: Lone Wolf jacket, guitar, stuffed iguana Jeffery, Squiggy
Turn-Ons: The scent of wet wool, warts, and, if we are to judge by who he's attracted to, long legs.
Group Affiliation: Minnow in The Order of the Bass; Member, Teamsters Local 412, Branch Tester, unnamed youth club
Favorite Foods: Snout, BLT (Bosco, Lard and Turkish Taffy) Sandwiches, Chocolate, Sen-Sen (for making-out purposes).
Physical Appearence: 6'2" (probably a half-inch taller in motorcycle boots), blond hair, blue eyes, pale skin or medium tan, medium build, lightly defined arms - depending on what season you're watching. Often wears red satin "Lone Wolf" jacket, blue jeans, white short-sleeved tee-shirt, motorcycle boots (which have been in the Kosnowski family for generations). If you're watching the California years, this may change to pastel polo shirts and/or a blue Hawaiian shirt with palm trees upon it, white poncho. Also may be seen in various costumes.
Pleaseure Center Located On: The sole of his left foot.
Boxers or Briefs?: Boxers
Liniage: The recognized Count of Kulakowski; 89th in line to the Polish throne (remember, all it'll take is one good plague...)
Misc Facts: Was once run over by a bus at the age of twelve.
Typical Quote: "Kosnowski is a pretty good name, Laverne. I've practically had it all my life. My grandfather told me it means 'Help! There's a hog in my kitchen!'" -From Look Before You Leap
Leonard "Lenny" Kosnowski was born sometime in 1938 (1). Depending on which version of canon you want to follow, he has an older sister or was an only child (2), but definitely had a father and a mother, and was born in Seawall, New Jersey (3).
When Lenny was about the age of four, the family moved to Milwaukee, WI, presumably on time for Lenny to begin attending kindergarten, as he met his best friend Squiggy and his lifelong neighbors, Laverne and Shirley in grade school (4). Lenny's favorite toy as a child was sauerkraut, though he did own a turtle...which he accidentally killed by carving his initials into its shell. His fondest memory of his mother involves her shoving his head through the bars of his playpen...insinuating that she was physically abusive, and possibly mentally unstable (5). On his fifth birthday, his mother walked out on the family, leaving Lenny alone with his cake, saying that she needed to get him candles. She simply leaves via bus to parts unknown. We, nor Lenny, hear from her again for the rest of the show's duration - and he is raised in a single-parent household by his father.
What you just read is a major key to who Lenny is as a character; it is THE defining incident of his life, and becomes a keenly painful memory that governs how he treats women, himself, and makes life choices.
By all accounts, Lenny grew up dirt poor- poorer, arguably, than the lower middle class DeFazio and Squiggman clans and the upper-middle-class Feeneys. Though they were all raised in a working-class blue-collar neighborhood, the gang is nonetheless considered by people who live in white-collar neighborhoods such as the Cunninghams of Happy Days fame to be living on the wrong side of the tracks. Of all of the gang, Lenny seems to have suffered the most from poverty - along with the aforementioned sauerkraut-as-toy, Lenny received his lunch money from his teacher - which means he was on a state-funded lunch program. This humiliating memory sticks with him, even as a twenty-six year old man years beyond living hand-to-mouth. His father worked at a fish cannery for an extended amount of time, (6); it's unknown if Lenny's sister cared for him while their father worked. It's likely that he as a latch-key kid, as he shares memories of playing with Squiggy during the day after school in "Helmut Weekend", so it's an arguable point that he spent his childhood playing on the streets of their Milwaukee neighborhood with Squiggy.
Kosnowski Sr.'s parenting skills are never commented upon, and Lenny's father is neither praised nor scorned throughout the course of the series. They were sufficiently poor enough not to have healed his son's tendency to be a bit of a beggar at the banquet of life. The fact that his schoolmates mocked him for being poor -and what they precieved to be dumb- probably didn't help matters. Thanks to these factors, Lenny apparently wasn't a prized pupil. He didn't even know how to print his name until he hit his twenties.
By the time he began attending Filmore High, Lenny at least had his own clique of friends to hang out with; Squiggy and "Icky" Hector Kestenbaum. The boys' favorite activities apparently included teasing the then-plump Angora Deb Rosie Greenbaum and desperately attempting to peep in on classmates Anne-Marie, Laverne and Shirley, who were a clique of their own within their high school sorority/girl gang, the Angora Debs. They were typical, mischievous, adenoidal teenage boys from what we see in the show, but to the girls they become perverse pests.
The way Lenny and Squiggy interact with Laverne and Shirley, behavior that is apparently stuck in the same pattern developed in adolesence, continues throughout their onscreen life as co-workers and neighbors for eight years.
A year after they graduated high school (7), Lenny had been living with his sister and brother-in-law - the latter of whom hated him and apparently forced him to do most of the heavy lifting around their house. In "Hi, Neighbor," Lenny and Squiggy, on the girl's unwitting advice, moved in together and into the girl's building at Knapp Street. From that moment on, the boys became antagonists, mirrors, counterparts, companions, dates and friends to the girls.
For Lenny, this mostly involved flirting with Laverne, becoming a coconspirator in Squiggy's get-rich-quick schemes, dating women who largely wanted nothing to do with him and desperately trying to get laid, participating in such hobbies as Jell-O skating and bathroom tub gardening, and delivering beer and driving a truck for Shotz Brewery, the same plant that employs the girls.
While in Milwaukee, Lenny participated in the service. This, at first, was a big part of who his character was, and his work in the Army was alluded to frequently in first-season episodes - for instance, he injures his thumb learning to fire a rifle during basic training in "Once Upon a Rumor," and becomes a Private in "One Flew Over Milwaukee." (8)
In the season three episode "The Debutante Ball," we learn that Lenny is of royal lineage. 89th in line to the Polish throne, he is the Count of Kulakowski. One has to wonder, since Lenny apparently inherited the title, what happened to his father. Though a lot of us have had fun playing around with this fact -who doesn't have sublimated prince-and-princess fantasies?- this episode is the only one to make use of the image of Lenny in a crown, and this part of canon, like many odd quirks sported by the gang, is relegated to the past.
In 1962 (9), Lenny and Squiggy recieved a raise at Shotz - the same day the girls are demoted to truck-washing. With their increased sallaries, they buy an ice cream truck, planning to travel during their vacation. The girls, seeing nothing but a dead end life for them in Milwaukee, con the boys into driving them to California, where they plan on starting a new life. Thus does Laverne and Shirley jump the sh - I mean, renooberate the show's scenery.
Resting overnight at Laurel Vista in Burbank, California, the boys immediately get lucky with two senoritas and decide to stay in the building, right next door to the girls. They take a neighboring apartment in the Spanish-style stucco-walled converted house, and opened up a talent agency: Squignowski Talent Agency Of Burbank (S.T.A.B.). They use the truck to sell ice cream and supplament their income. Surprisingly, boys manage to find a few clients and get them work, and were actually more successful at this venture than any of their other fly-by-night schemes from back in Milwaukee. Interestingly, Lenny seemed to be the brains of the outfit - running over contracts and keeping things organized while Squiggy shmoozed and negotiated his way through Studio City. Much of their work time, however, was spent chasing wannabe actresses and relying on their friendship with Frank DeFazio by booking their talent to his new resteraunt, a Cowboy Bills franchise.
For Lenny, we come to notice, California wasn't that big of a change from Milwaukee. Though, as if symbolic of their success, Lenny changed his mode of dress a little bit in California - and took to chewing, though not smoking, cigars - he was still broke, and still unable to attract and keep a woman. Yet there's also a slight maturation of the character - while he had always been the more "grown-up" of the twosome, Lenny had bigger responsibilities in California and acted accordingly. He was nonetheless openly dumbstruck by his good fortune at having moved up in the world - from driving a beer truck in Milwaukee to appearing with celebrities in LA.
What happens to Lenny after we see him for the last time in season eight's "Please Don't Feed The Buzzards" is a matter of great speculation and fanon (10). The truth behind the great mystery is that Michael McKean was busy, and therefore Lenny took a long onscreen hiatus. While Michael directed "The Bunny Show" and looked for a way onto the big screen, Lenny faded from everyone's conciousness as the other principle characters tried like hell to learn how to "Do The Carmine". Notice that Squiggy continues to mention him in the first few episodes of the final season - even attributing a wet wool fetish to him, of all things - though we don't see him after "Buzzards". When the series wraps, Squiggy is still fronting Squignowski Talent Agency, but Lenny isn't there to wave Carmine off to New York, and he misses out on the election of Laverne's father to Burbank's City Council.
When we meet Lenny again - thirty years after we last saw him in the "Laverne and Shirley: Together Again" reunion special - we find that he STILL hasn't changed. The girls have married, moved on, moved back to Milwaukee and back in with one another, but he and Squiggy are still together, presumably never having separated, and they both work for the reality game show "Island Of Doom"...torturing people in hole number five. We don't find out how his life went, or even how his life is going. Thus: much fannish speculation!
SEX, DRUGS, RELIGEON, AND ROCK 'N' ROLL: LENNY'S INNER WORKINGS:
The best way to examine how a character works is to take a look at how he and she behaves in regard to those three biggies in life: sex, death and religion. I've also provided an overview of what drives Lenny as a character.
A: SEX: One thing we can summarize from watching any episode in which Lenny appears is that he is the ardent sort. He's quick to hug at a compliment, and if he's especially moved, give a peck on the lips...which tends to turn into a long, deep snog. Sexually, in some ways, he's attracted to anything with a wiggle and nice legs - though a tight sweater helps. The hand biting (11), staring, and manic giggling that tends to occur whenever a good-looking girl walks by occurs in a group behavior with Squiggy - notice this, and remember it. Without Squiggy at his side to provide a second party and a little support, Lenny is a bit of a coward with a cute girl he doesn't know. He tries to squirm away from them, as if afraid of rejection, and when he's really in the throes of amour the fear of rejection he carries is almost visible on his face.
"Rejection," in fact, is the key word when it comes to Lenny and girls. If he respects a girl and wants something more serious than to shout something obscene and stuff his hand in his mouth at the sight of her, he's the awkward, reserved type; clumsy and a bit ungainly even when he's not under pressure, he has a hard time making the first move in a smooth way. The reason why he seems to be attractive to smart, assertive types like Laverne and Karen is because they're willing to be honest and forthright with him, not to mention lead him down the primrose path of love with both hands.
If he gets the 'hi' sign, though, he'll jump on top of a girl in the backseat of his friend's Pontiac. It takes a little time for him to find seccurity with a woman, but when he discovers it, and knows his love is reciprocated, the object of his lust becomes his whole world. This might allow him easily to mistake sexual attraction for love, or sexual favors for romantic inclination. After all - good girls only do it if 'they're crazy about' the boy they're in love with. Lenny's the type of boy who's attracted to "bad" girls but falls in love with "good" girls. And his love is the kind that skits obsession. All of these facts come together to paint the portrait of a man who definitely tends to dedicate himself wholly to one girl. His money, attention, and probably even his body are entirely hers, and commitment is absolutely no problem.
On the other hand, he also understands the power of the word 'no' and is definitely not the sort of guy who would rape a girl. You can trust him with your sensitive girls and your slow daughters. He even has what it takes to be restrained, innocent, and even protective of a date that is sexually vulnerable (12) and is good at sticking up for someone else - but very bad at sticking up for himself.
Now would be a good time to speculate on that dreaded topic: whether or not Lenny is actually a virgin (13). I bring this up for one simple reason: the show just loves to confuse us (14), and it's always fun to speculate when a character loses his or her virginity during the course of the show - you know Shirley waited for Walter Meeney, but everyone else is an open field.
Though Lenny, during the course of the show, watches a stag films with Fonzie, spends time alone with girls in his apartment, and takes conjugal visits to the ladies penitentiary, he also seem a little overeager to see a pair of real, live breasts, as though he'd never seen bare knockers before in his life.
In my opinion: everything up to "The Cruise" is fair game (15). By the time he "Rocks Consuela's World" in "Welcome to Burbank" - which is the first direct admission of Lenny and Squiggy having real sex lives on the show - it's likely a thing of the past. Simply, empirical evidence suggests that he isn't, but my advice is to play it cautious and see what your plot requires.
B: RELIGEON: Thanks to "Falter at the Alter," we know that Lenny goes to the same church that Laverne attends, making him Roman Catholic, though apparently a lapsed one - just like Laverne. While he may not attend services regularly, Lenny still believes in God, and definitely fears Him/Her/Whomever.
Attending church seems to make him feel awkward, as does any clerical figure. Watch his stiff posture and pinched shoulders as he converses with Anne Marie, the girl he used to peep on and who is now a nun, as he confesses every single transgression he ever committed upon the planet Earth -from cheating on a health quiz to developing ringworm. Lenny has that same sort of level of respect and awe for all authority figures, but the church seems to be an especially tender subject to him. He especially seems to be afraid of what God might think of him and of his friends; he brings up their similar religious backgrounds to talk Laverne out of moving in with and presumably having sex with a boyfriend out of wedlock (16). He might even presume that God feels as badly about him as he does about himself.
Ultimately, religion seems to provide Lenny with reassurance, proof that someone else out there is in control, and right and order in the world does exist -even if he has none himself. (17)
C: DRUGS: Thanks to three specific episodes, The Bachelor Party, Please Don't Feed The Buzzards and I Do, I Do, we know just how Lenny behaves when stoned and when drunk.
Under the influence of an overabundance of alcohol, he becomes somewhat brutish, definitely louder and meaner. It's his idea, after all, to toss Mr. DeFazio's pizza oven into the middle of the street during the bachelor party misadventure. Drinking too much might make him a vicious, drooling animal, as though every dark piece of his personality is more easily expressed, with the rage that bubbles under the surface of him.
The writers of the California era apparently forgot this.
The next few times we see Lenny drunk (in The Wedding at Frank's bachelor party and Please Don't Feed The Buzzards), it seems that an excess of alchol makes him slower than usual, happier, almost giggly. So, canonically, you could choose either path for him.
Pot, on the other hand, makes Lenny...more Lenny-like. Dreamy, vague, he exists in a slow-motion paradise that only he can see. Completely unaware that the music's getting louder because he's holding speakers to his ears, a permanently goofy grin is attaches itself to his lips, a Lenny under the influence becomes a delightful, romping puppy dog.
As for his propensity to possibly becoming an addict; Lenny's vulnerability definitely makes him a bit of a target for substance abuse problems. The show never took its stance on drugs further than what existed on "I Do, I Do" and "What Do You Do With a Drunken Sailor" For good reason. So your further speculation on the topic is wide-open to interruption. (18)
D: ROCK 'N' ROLL: After spending the first season getting his bearing, Lenny gradually becomes the musical sort. Gary Marshall loved to work the real-life talents of his actors into scripts, and when he found out that Michael McKean has a talent for writing and playing his own music, Lenny became a songwriter and singer in his own right.
First donning the instrument in 'From Suds to Stardom,' he and Squiggy eventually form "Lenny and the Squiggtones' (19), a band in which Lenny and Squiggy share co-lead vocals, Lenny plays lead guitar, and Squiggy is allowed a few clarinet solos.
As the series develops, Lenny begins to use music as an outlet for his affections and desires; he sits up all night writing a song to woo Laverne, and composes a lullaby for Squiggy to help him sleep (20). He also uses it as a way to bridge the gap between himself and the world and a way to step beyond his shyness with the opposite sex, playing at parties, for instance.
When it comes to pegging down Lenny's musical influences, we have nothing but speculation and fanon. His "Lone Wolf" Jacket and ducktail resemble that of teen idol of the period, Ricky Nelson. There are audible connections between what he writes and the rockabilly-pop and doo-wop of Gene Vincent, Carl Perkins, Ricky Nelson again, The Everly Brothers, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, The Platters and Buddy Holly. Buddy, at least in popular fanon, is one of Lenny's driving muses, and the connection between Buddy's sexually vibrant and yet giddily innocent tales of girls lusted after, loved, rejected and won seem to sync up well with Lenny's personality.
As for actual, canon musical interests, Lenny loves the song 'I Wanna Hold Your Hand' (22), and probably shares the girls' love of Elvis and the other major icons of the day. He knows showtunes and how to play them, in some cases.
Note that Lenny's musicianship and ability with his instrument is one of the things that tends to draw fangirls to him like flies. If you're going to write of him becoming a major singer-songwriter, I'd advise gently developing his skills. One doesn't go from "I Love Laverne" to a big professional career overnight, after all. (23)
It's important to note, also, that Lenny really can't dance to a fast song very well. The girls often try to teach him, but it often doesn't take. He seems, however, to be a marvelous slow-dancer. (24)
A WORD ON LENNY'S HYGIENE, OR LACK THEREOF: Many jokes in the show center on the boys' inability to keep their apartment and themselves clean - McKean and Landers, actually, pressed for more bathroom humor but were turned down by Marshall. They keep Bathrooms that inhabit living things; bathwater that smells as bad as the feet it once washed, take month-long trips without a single change of underwear. This teams up to paint a picture of lackadaisical hygiene. The fact that Lenny once cheated on a health quiz in ninth grade says it all.
But are the boys as dirty as is insinuated? We do see them shower and take sponge baths, and Lenny certainly shaves daily, which means his face touches water on a regular basis. The suggestion that he might be kissed by feminine lips sends him right to the tub. In California, we learn that their baths might be more regular than we think.
A WORD ON LENNY'S LEVEL OF INTELLIGENCE, AKA: THE ROSE NYLUND FACTOR: When you start writing this character, you may be tempted to characterize Lenny and Squiggy as completely dumb. While it's true that Lenny is slow to grasp things and is occasionally self-deluded, it's also true that he has a certain KIND of intelligence - an emotional IQ, for instance. His self-delusion allows him to believe that he's somewhat more attractive than he is, which makes an interesting pairing with the other side of his personality - the one that finds himself an unattractive loser. But there is a fugitive intelligence to him. He's wise when it comes to the things he knows - abandonment, music, longing, dinosaur bones. Perhaps he should be looked at in the same light as The Golden Girls' Rose Nylund; not dumb, but rather naive. No matter his actual intelidence, Lenny is incredibly conscious of being thought of as dumb coward, though these are facets of his personality.
THE JACKET, THE GUITAR AND THE IGUANA: LENNY'S AVITARS:
Everyone in LAS has a certain special object or possession that identifies the person: Laverne's "L's"; Shirley's Boo Boo Kitty; Frank's Apron; Squiggy's "Hair Worm", Moths and Clarinet; Carmine's blue satin club jacket. Lenny comes equipped with two: his "Lone Wolf" Jacket and his stuffed iguana, Jeffery.
THE JACKET: When we first see Lenny, he's wearing an entirely different uniform: A black and tan letterman jacket with taupe sleeves (27). In "Hi, Neighbor," we're introduced to his signature outfit; a red satin jacket with black stripes and white piping, with the words "Lone Wolf" stitched across the back of it.
"Lone Wolf" is symbolic of what Lenny wishes he could be; strong, independent, self-reliant. That he's actually dependent, a bit weak, sensitive and loves the company of others is obvious to everyone but himself. The "Lone Wolf" jacket therefore represents his idealized self - the guy with his jaw sticking out and his fist balled, ready to punch out the lights on the world. He originally got the jacket as a way to differentiate himself from Squiggy and prove he was his own independent man - the jacket serves as a reminder to himself that he is his own property.
THE IGUANA: Jeffery, the yellow, stuffed iguana, is Lenny's very dead but very important companion. The fact that he was actually Squiggy's - and they agree to share him - is more telling of his relationship with Squiggy than anything.
Jeffery eventually becomes Lenny's entirely; while he's Squiggy's uncle's favorite watchdog's chewtoy in "It's a Dog's Life", Jeffery's also Lenny's beloved toy, equable to Squiggy's moths and precious if threatened. Think of Jeffery as a skinny, less fruity Boo-Boo Kitty.
LENNY'S MAJOR RELATIONSHIPS: Or, how Lenny relates to each of the other major players in the show.
Laverne & Lenny: If you take a random sampling of any ten fics on this site, odds are you'll come up with at least five that feature a Laverne/Lenny pairing. The reasons for this are tri-fold:
Oh, and 3:
Lenny proposes to Laverne five times. Once in a dream. Of HERS. (28)
From the moment Lenny turns to Laverne in the series' first episode, smiles, and says 'So, I guess I get you,' his attraction to her is already up and running - it may have even blossomed when they were just kids in school.
The 'shippery ball really doesn't get rolling, however, until "Hi Neighbor," where Laverne talks Lenny into taking Squiggy back into the apartment they were sharing. That episode also debuts the 'Lone Wolf' Jacket...that is missing an 'L'. That Laverne sews a missing "L" onto the back and completes his very identity only serves as a bonding point. He kisses her in gratitude, and from that episode on Lenny's attention is almost entirely focused on Laverne.
And I mean focused; out of a hundred door gags, it's 'hey Laverne', not 'hey girls' on most of his entrances. Whenever Lenny, Squiggy, Shirley and Laverne sit together -or Lenny has to sit with the girls alone -, nine times out of ten he'll take a chair across from or beside Laverne; when he and Squiggy try to 'make out' with the girls, Lenny's the one with Laverne (29). The fact that their relationship gradually changes from one-sided attraction to a deep friendship to is a testament to the only bit of continuity in a show that had major strife going on in the writer's room.
The most interesting thing about their friendship is that it widens and deepens as time goes on. When they were teenagers, she could barely stand to be in the same room with him. After living downstairs from him for two years, she can comfortably go out on a public date with him, and actually have fun. Their relationship becomes more hormonal; resembling strongly two children teasing one another because they can't admit they like each other - so they snap bras and swipe popcorn. By season eight, she's comfortable holding his hand and rubbing his shoulders - in the first season, she can't stand being near him.
It's in 'Lenny's Crush' in which Lenny realizes that he and Laverne have a lot in common - having been raised in single-parent households, common interests, the same set of friends - and falls promptly in love with her. Even though she rejects him, explaining that she's not 'in' love with him, but loves him in a brotherly way, she promptly keeps the door open to there being more between them, proclaims that the girl he's dating "Isn't good enough for him."
From that moment on, their friendship remains fairly strong (30). They volley repeatedly back-and-forth between being the only two people who understand one another so well ("A Visit To The Cemetery") to being each other's sounding boards ("The Beatnik Show") to combatively running against each other in the battle of the sexes ("The Quiz Show") to sexually annoying one another ("The Road To Burbank"). Laverne is willingly hanging out with Lenny by the middle of the show's run; if Shirley's on a date and she can't get one, she can be found with the boys, watching a movie. Lenny, tellingly, always thinks that he's on a date, even when Squiggy is in the apartment with them. Whenever Laverne needs advice, and Shirley is either occupied or the source of her irritation, Laverne immediately turns to Lenny for solace. They even have a song that they sang together in their childhood: "The Look" (21)
It's clear to see why Lenny has a crush on Laverne. Not only has he known her for a long time, she's also 'one of the guys' - not a scary other woman who could crush his fragile ego, but someone who likes the things he does, the captain on the company softball team, a fellow Teamster. Someone probably stronger than he is, physically and emotionally - yanking him right out of his "girls-are-weaker-than-boys" mantraing. Laverne is his better in a few ways, but in certain ways he betters her. Her presence isn't a shelter for him; with or for her he has the courage to stand up and physically take on the problems and enemies facing them. Simply, she gives him the courage he lacks while he provides the moral support that she can't get from anyone else.
Is it possible for these two kids to have a relationship? Take this into account: Lenny proposes to Laverne three times canonically during the course of the show. The first time, in one of the best-written scenes in the show's history when she fears she's pregnant in 'Look Before You Leap'. He explains that he's willing to marry her to give the child a name, offering her shelter, and a peaceful marriage. She gently turns him down.
The second time occurs in 'Lenny's Crush', out of sheer desperation on his part to get her to love him.
The third time is exemplar of the sort of writing that damaged the show in its last painful seasons. In order to win a bet with Squiggy, Lenny proposes to Laverne, thus taking her off off the markert and making her "married" before Shirley is. Can you imagine an earlier-season Lenny doing that? Or setting Laverne up with a masher? Or all but calling her easy to her face?
While the two earlier proposals are almost painfully sincere, Laverne states that she can't be his wife because she doesn't have that 'thing' for him. Since she does love him, and they have common interests, social backgrounds, and financial situations, we can assume that the 'thing' is a sexual attraction - 'goosebumps'.
This brings up an interesting dichotomy in what Laverne and Lenny seem to want in a partner; while Laverne's cheerful 'bad girl' behavior is a clear turn-on for Lenny, Lenny is clearly a 'good boy'. Laverne gets those goosebumps for boys who rob convenience stores and cheat on their wives with her. You see what the baseline problem is.
Do I find this relationship tenable? Absolutely. Can an author surmount the problem in the relationship? If you could convincingly get Laverne over her detrimental 'bad boy' fetish and get her to just relax and enjoy one of Lenny's kisses for once, it's more than surmounted.
On a closing note, I urge you to discount some of the dialogue from seasons seven and eight. Part of the devaluation Laverne's character underwent in California included Lenny doing something he would never do in Milwaukee: directly call her 'easy'. Laverne's character and already shaky moral fiber gradually descends to a point where, in "The Monastery Story", Laverne ends up getting drunkenly gangbanged on an aircraft carrier. No, I'm not making this up. And THERE is your real LAS sharkjump.
Lenny & Shirley: The Lenny/Shirley relationship is not as easily defined as his relationship with Laverne. The two are not close. In most cases, Shirley finds Lenny somewhat repulsive due to his manners, in the rest exasperating because he's slow to follow her conversations.
Lenny looks at Shirley with the eyes of a little brother; he's annoyed by her primness, her inability to play his little-boy games, and yet is awed by her intelligence, the ease with which she learns. This allows Shirley to lean upon her natural talent as a teacher to try and sharpen Lenny's mind. Unfortunately, Lenny doesn't take to things quickly, which frustrates Shirley.
Though Lenny doesn't come to Shirley for comfort, she definitely has a motherly influence upon him. Laverne is FAR easier on Lenny than Shirley is - in fact, Shirley's briskness can sometimes boarder on bluntness.
Despite all of this teacher/student chemistry between them, Lenny does find Shirley attractive on some level. Especially when she washes his feet. For mashing purposes, however, Lenny really doesn't tend to go after Shirley. A relationship for the two of them might be possible, if Shirley could relax and allow Lenny to make his mistakes. Their similar tendency to be emotional might prove detrimental.
Lenny & Squiggy: Lenny's relationship with his best friend is, undoubtedly, the most important of his adult life. These two were the original Heterosexual Lifemates, after all. Squiggy is Lenny's roommate and confidant; the only person who understands him and accepts him without any requirements or reservations...even the simple ones like a shower or clean underwear. In return, Lenny is Squiggy's partner in every scheme, and they do everything from go on dates together to sharing bunk beds - possibly even sharing women when times are lean.
Due to his gratitude to his friend, Lenny believes wholeheartedly in Squiggy. Squiggy will occasionally use this fact to get Lenny to toil for him, act as a guinea pig for their latest experiment, or test his loyalty by tossing him out of the apartment when he wants to be alone with a girl - even worse, taking her out and having Lenny wait to drive her back home after they're finished. Squiggy has done everything from try out his new razor on a sleeping Lenny's legs to accidentally electrocuting him with a new invention - and yet Lenny keeps coming back for more. If it's very easy to picture Laverne and Shirley becoming a cozy, loving couple, it's as easy to imagine Lenny and Squiggy becoming embroiled in some sort of d/s setup. Depending what season you're watching, their relationship may have a slight sub/dom take to it. Lenny, however, starts giving back as good as he gets for the most part by season four - sometime after "You've Pushed Me Too Far". The writers seem to get the undercurrent running between them and gave us "Love Is The Tar Pits", where Lenny's girlfriend accuses Squiggy of treating Lenny like he owns him - a fact that's fairly indisputable most of the time.
While Squiggy can occasionally be rough on Lenny, he knows that his best friend is his greatest supporter, and he, in turn, believes in Lenny's untapped intelligence. Lenny thinks Squiggy's the greatest thing since sliced bread - the "idiot who thinks the idiot's a genius," to paraphrase Michael McKean.
The boys' greatest conflicts occur over that great divider of men: women. While Lenny seems to find Squiggy's romantic follies either worrisome or amusing (31), Squiggy tends to feel threatened whenever Lenny falls in love. When Lenny developed a relationship with Amy Babbish, Squiggy flatly told a naive Lenny that Amy was a 'dummy,' leading to Lenny's physically threatening his best friend. The two nearly came to blows again when Lenny fell in love with Karen, a bright college student who saw Lenny as having "potential". Lenny's complete consumption with being in love alienated his best friend severely, leading to severe jealousy on Squiggy's part. Squiggy tries to shove Karen out of Lenny's life, but Karen stands her ground. When Squiggy thinks Karen dumped Lenny because of him, he feels horribly guilty - even worse when he thinks Lenny's trying to commit suicide by throwing himself in the tar pits.
Do you find all of this slashy? If you do, then nothing should stand in the way of pairing them together for you.
Lenny and Squiggy are not the types to be easily separated. Remember this when you write your fics; they have been friends since they were small, and will keep on being friends until they are parted by a force mightier than whatever she-devil you might have lined up - or a full case of honey...
Lenny & Carmine: If Shirley looks at Lenny with the attitude of an exasperated big sister, Carmine reacts to Lenny as is he were a still-mighty football jock, and Lenny the lowliest keeper of an AV projector on campus. At worst an annoyance to one another, Lenny and Carmine don't spend much time together. The lack of respect is mutual on some level; Lenny doesn't feel that he should have to pay for dance lessons from his friend - though he does not, like Squiggy, call Carmine's profession 'un-masculine' outright-, while Carmine can't stand to have him underfoot at his studio - where he tends to accidentally break things. Also, Shirley and Laverne frequently employ Carmine as a stopgap between the boys and their underwear drawer.
While they don't spend much time at all together, Lenny turns to Carmine whenever he wants advice in regard to getting in shape. This is the only area in which they comfortably socialize without getting on each other's nerves. If you're looking to write about their relationship, that might be a building block to explore the friendship.
Lenny & Rhonda: Rhonda Lee, in a way, is yet another tantalizing fantasy that's just out of Lenny's reach; blonde, well-proportioned, and a tease. Lenny is attracted to her the way he's attracted to other women of similar attributes; he'd love to make out with her, but he's not in love.
While Rhonda has used her wiles to get what she wants from Lenny, even faking a suicide threat to impress him with her acting abilities, Lenny never sees her as much more than a pretty acquaintance to drool at in the unlikely event he gets to see her sunbathing. Like the unavailable beauty queens he fawned over at the Pizza Bowl, he may fantasize, but he'll probably never get to touch.
Lenny & Mrs. Babbish: The Mrs. Babbish/Lenny relationship is woefully underdeveloped. The two rarely interact, outside of Lenny's desperately dodging Mrs. Babbish's request for the rent. He helps her out occasionally, hauling heavy things out of the Knapp Street building's basement, for instance. He attends her wedding to Frank DeFazio, and is never too proud to mooch off of the restaurant she co-owns, Cowboy Bills.
So much more could be written of these two. Lenny's never had a mother, and she's of the appropriate age, and of the properly earthy content. She might be a great sounding post for his insecurities.
Lenny & Mr. DeFazio: Frank sees Lenny much as Carmine sees him; a leech on his business, who messes up the establishment and doesn't pay for it later; who stingily buys a slice of pizza when he could buy a whole pie. "A Nut". Lenny does, however, at least pay for the pizza he eats, the glasses of beer he drinks, pays something on a few rounds in the lanes, and plugs a few coins into the games on the premises. On some strange level, Lenny seems to think that Frank owes him whatever he consumes - it's symptomatic of his usual shortsightedness and rudeness, excrabated by Squiggy. Lenny also does a little bit for Frank, business-wise, in helping out with his amateur talent nights once they get to California. Frank doesn't respect Lenny too terribly much, and bundles him into a group with Squiggy as " those two trouble making boys."
Imagine Frank having to actually deal with Lenny on a one-on-one basis. The conflict between the two of them would be quite intriguing.
Lenny & Sonny: Sonny is an example of the way Lenny treats Laverne's (many) boyfriends; not with scorn, but with a desire to emulate. If they are really nice guys, with really interesting jobs, then Lenny will take an interest in being a fireman, an actor, or a stuntman -even if he's too big of a coward to follow it up.
Lenny & Others: Besides the minor women in his life - dates and acquaintances such as Bridget - who pass in and out of Lenny's life, two other women have had a major influence him.
The first, Amy Babbish, is Edna's mentally slow daughter. He fell in puppy love with the girl in "The Slow Child". Consisting of a few gentle kisses and one sweet slow dance, their relationship has the gentle reverie of a first love. There is a sweetness to it - no sexual adventure, which for Lenny is typical and yet atypical. They part after that episode and we never hear from Amy again.
They might have a wonderful relationship together; not necessarily a full one, but one of great meaning for them both.
The second, Karen, is a college student Lenny meets at the La Brea Tar Pits in "Love Is The Tar Pits". After chasing off a masher for her, Lenny introduces himself to Karen and they hit it off. After dating her steadily for three months, she's offered a position in New York. He offers to go with her, she turns him down, and he fears it's really because she's "figured out" he's dumb - leading to one of his mini-nervous breakdowns, comparable to his crawling under Laverne's end table and hiding when she rejects him.
Karen is probably a closed book when it comes to Lenny; once you hurt him, he never wants to see you again.
These two relationships illustrate the dual sides of Lenny's personality; the innocent part of him that believes in love and marriage, and the more sophisticated part that's willing to have a relationship with Karen that isn't a marriage at all. Ironically, the sort he doesn't approve of girls like Laverne having.
E: OVERVIEW: The key to writing Lenny is to remember the main ingredients that drives him as a person.
Chief among these is his mother's long-ago abandonment, as described earlier in the sheet. His fear of one day being left completely alone, which eerily mirror's Laverne's own, is a deciding factor in nearly every move he makes. From sticking by Squiggy no matter what because his friend is devoted and hasn't left him, to moving across the country because everyone else in his social group is, Lenny is driven in most cases by loyalty to those he loves.
When that loyalty is rejected or, worse yet, betrayed, he has a tendency to fly into a rage; screaming, balling his fists, hiding under coffee tables, hunching into a ball as though the very life of him has been deflated from his soul. As though disappearance into the ground beneath him is preferable to rejection. He wouldn't actually hit someone unless they were threatening someone he loves (25), but he has no objection to damaging furniture in his anger. Most of all, he hates being lied to -probably because his mother told him she'd be right back with those candles.
Lenny is rarely able to lie to others, doing so only under duress and/or pressure from Squiggy. Whenever things go too far, HE'S always the one to crack under the pressure and confess his misdeeds.
There is another facet to Lenny's personality: he's somewhat of a seething puddle of barely concealed emotion. He's extremely vibrant, emotionally. He cries easily - and is actually the sort who cries at the funeral of a man he's never met. He can vibrate in the manner of a live wire with an unexpressed anger. McKean conceived the character as being similar to people he knew in his formative years who were barely in control of their emotions - people he ironically disliked -, and this comes through in the details of how Lenny expresses himself.
And yet there's another side to Lenny; sweet, kind, loving; good with the meek and the needy. He can be very tentative, and is open and lovingly able to express joy and give it. When he sees someone suffering, he's willing to sacrifice his own well being to better the cause of another.
For Lenny, love seems to be a partially selfless act. He seems to believe that if he gives himself entirely to the romantic notions of his love, he will be rewarded in kind -hopefully with a make-out session and a little quick groping. People may have a tendency to take advantage of that generosity. Remember, this is the guy who pictured himself living in the gutter, who, somehow, thinks he belongs there no matter what. His life is lived beneath a cloud of inferiority, or a fear of being inferior.
On some level, Lenny loves gossip. He and Squiggy absorb it, spread it a bit, and yet he wouldn't do anything seriouslty malicious to another person (26).
The other major, driving force in his life is his friendship with Squiggy, discussed in full above.
Interestingly, Lenny tends to bounce between having a fairly high opinion of himself and finding himself handsome to having no courage and a low self-esteem. It's an interesting dichotomy, and exemplery of his inferiority complex.
In closing, a word about Lenny's attitude toward women. While he can be regularly worshipful of the opposite sex, he can just as occasionally think that girls just don't measure up to guys. They just can't spit well enough sometimes - or they should be barred from football entirely. Consider those little comments part of the Squiggy-influenced side of his brain - for a guy who's attracted to women far smarter than he, they're odd and somewhat OOC thoughts - ones possibly refective of his negative feelings about his mother's being gone.
And that, ladies and gents, is Lenny Kosnowski in a nutshell. On the whole, he's not that tough a nut to crack. I hope you have fun writing him.
* The author of this bio recommends you try writing said AU. Go ahead! She dares you!
1: Assuming that the gang were 17-18 in 1956, when they graduated high school. See: A Nun Story, Class of '56
2: In "Hi, Neighbor" Lenny lives with his sister and her husband; her husband uses him for heavy lifting.
3: As was Michael McKean. He has said in interviews that Lenny was conceived as being from Jersey, which explains the pronounced accent. (Source: various MMK interviews, google.)
4: "I can't believe we went through school with those boys." -Shirley, The Society Party
5: Lenny to Laverne in "Moving In": "You were meant to be a mother. My mother...was meant to be a welder."
6: Vis-à-vis Lenny's memory of his father returning from work "smelling like fish" (See: Testing, Testing)
7: Season three is set in 1959-1960, which sets season one in 1957.
8: By the second season, this aspect of his character was shuffled into the background. The only times it's ever referred to again is in "You're In The Army Now," when it's revealed that he and the girls are in the same reserve unit together, and "You Oughtta Be In Pictures," where his unit watches an army hygene health film in which the girls have unwittingly starred. Vietnam is never reflected on, nor do any of the boys serve.
9: By the middle of season 6, we magically jump from 1962 to 1964 and the advent of the Beatles...then the next season, it's 1965, then 1966, in an attempt to modernize the girls' attitudes about life.
10: What happens to his portrayer, Michael McKean, isn't; he takes off most of season eight to film "This Is Spinal Tap," which becomes a cultural phenomena. He would have left Laverne and Shirley in Season nine, at the end of his contract, were it not cancelled. McKean, meanwhile, has never been out of work.
11: "I always thought of it as an expression of joy" -Lenny in "Antonio The Amazing".
12: See the Amy Babbish section of the bio.
13: Oh, I can hear someone on the intraweb putting their phasers on 'stun' as I type this...
14: Remember that LAS suffered from that vicious cycle known as "writer/actor conflict." There were script burnings.
15: Laverne: "I'll Tell Everyone You Ain't Never Vode-o-do'ed!" Lenny: "Oh Yeah!? I Got Witnesses!" - The Cruise, Part 1
16: See: Moving In
17: See: his speech to Laverne in Moving In, where he takes a hardline, church-based approach to what she's planning on doing.
18: Seriously. Nick at Night eventually refused to air "I Do, I Do" in its rotation because of it didn't portray the negative side of eating hash or contact highs. But, to be fair, LAS wasn't exactly socially responsible at the time...
19: McKean and Lander recorded an album under the name, co-writing most of the material, and took the act on tour across the nation during the height of LAS' popularity during a summer hitatus.
20: Both were composed by Michael McKean himself.
21: McKean wrote this, too-and it basiclaly tells the whole L/L story in a minute flat - boy wants girl, girl is wary of boy - "To you it's just a game but the thrill ain't mine"...
22: I Do, I Do.
23: And I've had him do this in my fics. Perfect, I am not, and neither should you be; putting pressure on yourself won't help.
24: Just like his portrayer, as he admitted to the public repeatedly as he trained for his role as Edna Turnblad in "Hairspray" (SOURCE: NYT)
25: See: Murder on the Moosejaw Express and The Bully Show for examples.
26: Even in Once Upon a Rumor, one senses that he didn't MEAN for everyone to think Shirley was easy... "She only did it with Squiggy 'cause she's crazy about him."
27: Lenny continues to wear it as a winter jacket; Laverne also wears it when she and Shirley dress up as the boys to rub their names off of the wall at Vinny's Pool Hall in "Good Time Girls"
28: For the record, they are: Look Before You Leap, Lenny's Crush, 2001: A Comic Odyssey, That's Entertainment and The Mummy's Bride.
29: Lenny only kisses Shirley three times on the show: once during Bus Stop, Once during "The Cruise", and once during her dream sequence in 'Perfidy in Blue'.
30: Moving In
31: See: Lenny's Crush, Honeymoon Hotel and Squiggy In Love