Single In The Suburbs, Installment 103

Oh, the irony! Sara’s in the hot seat for online dating—after helping her bosses. Can she recover?

By Sara Susannah Katz

To read the entire series of articles from the beginning, click here.

n our last installment, our columnist stood accused of breaking company rules by doing the very thing her boss asked her for help with in the first place—online dating! What recourse does she have? Will her source in HR help her out of this mess? Read on…

Tuesday, 3:30 p.m.
I feel unmoored and paranoid. This investigation is completely bogus, the work of a spurned playboy who will do anything he can to hobble me. The worst part is there’s no one I feel I can turn to. My jelly-spined boss is obviously useless to me now. Burt’s
My jelly-spined boss is obviously useless to me now.
network of loyal good old boys (and girls) goes wide and deep in this organization. I have no one to talk to other than this lawyer, Stanley Able, but realistically, what good will he be when most people here think Burt is a great guy?

Tuesday, 5:10 p.m.
I see Charmaine S. Blith walking in the parking lot and get the wild impulse to take her into my confidence, woman to woman. Charmaine is a lonely spinster (does anyone even use that word anymore?) and, in my anxiety-ridden state, I have the crazy notion that she would welcome the opportunity to counsel me in my moment of need.

I call out to her as she moves toward her spotless white Crown Victoria and she spins on her heel and cocks her head. “Yes?” she asks me, cautiously.

“Oh! Charmaine! So glad I caught you.”

She takes three deliberate steps backward, away from me. She’s probably terrified that I might try to touch her, and human touch, I have come to believe, is like kryptonite to Charmaine S. Blith. She’s 46 and, from what I hear, her virginity is perfectly preserved, like a prehistoric bug in amber. I imagine that all manner of physical contact is anathema to her, the very idea of exchanging body fluids must make her retch. She has never been married, and as far as anyone knows, she’s never dated anyone of either sex. She once told me that she has never had a pet, not even a goldfish. “Too messy,” she said, gray lips pursed disapprovingly.

So there we are in the parking lot, and she has taken now a fourth step backward. I want to say, “Don’t worry, I won’t touch you,” but instead I tell her:

“Listen. This whole Internet thing. I think you may have made a mistake.”

She doesn’t say a word, but I notice a little twitch under her left eye,
Charmaine’s mouth is moving but it takes a while for her to produce words.
where the ivory foundation has settled into deep creases in her thin skin.

I don’t know what has possessed me, but I now find myself telling Charmaine about Steve, how I helped him with his online profile, and if someone like the Mighty Steve is doing Internet dating (and, yes, I did refer to him as the Mighty Steve), then surely this is not an obscene activity but a rather mainstream one that’s neither corrupt nor punishable. I soon realize that I am now talking like Benjamin Franklin, and that’s when I know it’s time to shut up. That, and the horrified look on Charmaine’s face. I have a bizarre habit of blathering formalistically when I’m extremely nervous.

Charmaine’s mouth is moving but it takes a while for her to produce words. Finally, she says something like “I must be going now” and practically runs the rest of the way to her car.

Wednesday, 8:45 a.m.
Oh, no. This is too bad to be true. Just got an e-newsletter announcing that our president has retired suddenly due to a medical condition, and in an emergency meeting of the board of directors, it has been decided that his replacement is Steve.

If I was worried about the investigation before, I might as well just resign now because Burt and Steve are tight as two mealworms in an old box of pancake mix. They’re active members of the no-girls-allowed boys’ club here, where some of the most important deals are brokered on golf courses, over cigars or in courtside seats at basketball games. No woman around here, no matter how highly placed in the org chart she is, has any kind of a chance against that kind of fraternity.

Wednesday, 10 a.m.
Steve didn’t waste any time asserting his new authority. He just sent me this email:

Be advised that due to the current investigation under way, I have determined that…

Sara Susannah Katz is a writer in the Midwest.

Read Single In The Suburbs, Part 104

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