Kay on living with Karl
Banter with 'boyfriend' helps keep marriage alive

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 16 1999 12:00 a.m. MST

Kay Malone has a "boyfriend."

Karl Malone doesn't mind, though, because it's him. But the Mailman, as he's known everywhere except in his own home, didn't want his wife to reveal her pet name for him."Don't tell 'em you call me your boyfriend," Karl Malone told her before she spoke at Sen. Orrin and Elaine Hatch's 15th annual Utah Women's Conference Monday.

Even though Karl Malone might not want everyone to know his and his wife's playful secret, he goes with it whenever she calls him that. "You think you're having an affair, don't ya," is the Mailman's typical response.

"That kind of keeps our relationship alive, if I call him my boyfriend," Kay Malone said.

Her 45-minute workshop titled "Doing It All Without Losing It All" attracted a standing-room-only crowd at the Salt Palace Convention Center. She spoke about being the wife of the NBA's Most Valuable Player and the mother of four young children. She also volunteers as an advocate for children and families, is involved in several charities and owns a bed-and-breakfast inn.

Kay Malone admits she does lose it on occasion.

Her 4-year-old son recently threw a fit in the aisle at the grocery store over a can of cream of mushroom soup. She tried to explain to him that he doesn't like that kind. He kicked the metal shopping cart from his seat in it and threw a couple of soup cans from the shelf. Kay Malone tossed a can in and kicked the shopping cart herself in a mock tantrum. When people started watching, her 8-year-old daughter suggested they go home.

"Of course, everybody at Smith's keeps talking about it. 'Kay's lost it. Karl's getting to her,'" she recalled with a laugh. But, she said, her son hasn't acted up in the store again.

Kay Malone isn't shy about telling her husband when he irritates her. "I don't care if he's 6-foot-9 and 250 pounds.

"I think that's why he married me. I'm not going to take any of his crap," she said. The problem with couples these days, as Kay Malone sees it, is that too many hide their feelings from each other.

When the Mailman came home grumpy after getting kicked out of a game once, she told him to walk out of the kitchen and not come back until he had a smile on his face. She further told him he could find a hotel room if he persisted being ornery.

Lately, Kay Malone's emotions have been closer to the surface than usual. Her mother, her "best friend" has cancer. "(My children) see me cry a lot," she said. She tries to spend as much time as possible with her mother, who now lives in Salt Lake City in the Malones' old house. She'll spend the entire day with her mother if that's what she needs on a particular day, even if that means doing nothing but being there.

"Now that my mom is sick, my time is for her," she said.

Kay Malone can usually be found in the stands during Utah Jazz games, but she often spends the second half under the Delta Center stands. "Usually Seinfeld or something is on," she quipped. More often, she tends the children of other players' wives who are into basketball more than she is.

And no, she doesn't know what Karl Malone says before shooting a free throw. He used to say, "Oh, baby, oh, baby. Make the shot," she said, adding, "I'm like, 'Is that me?' I hope." Now, Kay Malone said, she doesn't know what her husband says, although she thinks some of his words are directed to players on opposing teams.

A former Miss Idaho USA who holds a sociology degree from Boise State University, Kay Malone never was enamored of her husband's fame. She didn't even know who the Mailman was when she first met him at a downtown shopping mall during an autograph session.

"He's signing autographs because he's the first black postman?" she asked her brother-in-law, who wanted to stand in line for a signature. Some sneaky matchmaking on her sister's part -- she sent Karl Malone a picture of Kay as Miss Idaho after that first meeting along with a letter as if it came from Kay -- eventually brought the two together.

"To this day, I don't care if he's the Mailman," she said. "I just love him because he's Karl."

Aka the "Boyfriend."

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