I have so many memories of hanging out at Kristin's house on Kesselring Avenue as a kid -- some better (destroying the family room with our art projects, usually involving bits and pieces of sheepskin) than others (piano lessons with your mom when I hadn't practiced). I remember pretending to play with my first feline friend, Muffy, but was secretly watching Ken and his friends master Atari games while earning brag-worthy blisters on their joystick thumbs. There are so many stories, but I want to forward to my first day of high school and my most vivid memory of Ken.
I was walking to a class with a friend, schedule and map in hand, terrified that some bully upperclassman would demand that I buy an elevator key from them, or worse, make me smoke in the bathroom. Ken came bounding through the hallway with a bunch of guys, all in their varsity football jerseys. "Hey Cathy! Great to see you!" he said. I squeaked out a "hello" as they all continued down the hallway. "Who was THAT?" my companion asked. "Oh, that's just Kristin's brother," I nonchalantly said. But my head was going a million miles a minute. Ken Spengler knows me! I know Ken Spengler! This is going to be MY year! That thought stayed with me through the entire day and most of the week . . . whenever something went wrong, I thought, "It's OK, I know Ken Spengler!" Sometimes I feel like him saying hello to me that day was kind of turning point in teenage confidence for me. I really wish he knew that simple thing he did has stayed with me for 25 years.