First impression wasn't lasting


August 30, 1998|By Joanne E. Morvay | Joanne E. Morvay,special to the sun

The first time Kim Radney met Clayton Yandel, she was not impressed. She took one look at him and decided he was not the guy for her.

But a decade after their introduction at a Pittsburgh sporting-goods store, Kim has learned that initial encounters are not always accurate. And that sometimes the truest of hearts can be hidden in a teddy bear of a guy sporting Jheri-curled hair.

In 1988, Kim was working at a Herman's Sporting Goods store the summer before she started college at Morgan State University. One day her boss brought out a co-worker he thought she should meet. Kim was polite, but couldn't avert her eyes from the man's hair, permed into a slick mass of corkscrewed Jheri curls.

In Kim's mind, that hairdo had long been out of style. She endured the introduction, but immediately dismissed any notion of befriending Clayton.

Returning to the store for a visit later that year, Kim found herself enthralled by a man with a sharp box cut. "It was the back of the person," she recalls. "You couldn't see his front and I was thinking to myself, 'Turn around.'

"All of a sudden, he did and I told my girlfriend, 'Oh, my God, it's the Jheri curl guy!' " Kim recalls with a laugh. After a perfunctory hello to Clayton, she visited with other employees and left.

When Kim returned to work full time in the summer of 1989, she and Clayton finally struck up a friendship. They often ate lunch together. Eventually, he asked her out, and after talking with him until the wee hours of the morning, Kim realized there might be more to this man than she originally thought.

But this dawning did not lead the couple directly to matrimonial bliss. While they were happy much of the time, Kim and Clayton also had serious disagreements over their long-term goals.

"I had matured a little quicker than Clay had," Kim says now. "He was living at home and I was on my own at school. To me, there were a lot of things he couldn't care less about. He just wasn't responsible enough."

As for Clayton, he says he thought Kim was pressuring him about things that didn't matter. Looking back now, he realizes that he took his time to grow up.

Twice over the years that followed, they broke up, separating for 12 months or longer. Though he wasn't quite ready to mend his ways, the disputes cut Clayton to the core. "I was pretty hurt because I really loved her," he says. The pain is still evident in his voice, a low, earthy growl that has always sent shivers up Kim's spine.

Resourceful in spite of his lackadaisical attitude, Clayton stayed in touch with Kim's family in Pittsburgh during those hard times, popping in to check on her mom and visit with her brothers.

"I considered Clayton my son," says Janice Radney, Kim's mother. "Anything I needed done, he would always be there to help me."

It was this bond and a decision to change his ways, Clayton believes, that finally brought Kim back into his life for good. Both are tennis buffs, and in 1993, Kim asked Clayton to accompany her - as friends - to the U.S. Open. The vacation made the couple realize how strong their love remained.

Over the next four years they built a life together, alternating weekends in Baltimore and Pittsburgh. Last November, Clayton moved here and got a job as a parts distributor for a car dealership. Kim is a medical technologist at Union Memorial Hospital, where she's worked since her graduation from Morgan.

On Aug. 22, Kim and Clayton, both 32, were married at Friendship Baptist Church in Baltimore. Kim's mother and Clayton's mother, Yvonne Adams, also of Pittsburgh, were among the 150 guests. Among the highlights at the ceremony was a remembrance for family members who have died, including Kim's father, Joseph Radney.

After honeymooning in Bermuda, Kim and Clayton will live in Towson. They expect the years ahead to be filled with love, laughter and all of the activities they most enjoy - Sunday church services, tennis matches, movies, family reunions and trips to destinations near and far.

"It's always an adventure with Clay," Kim says with an affectionate giggle.

Pub Date: 8/30/98

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.