Single In The Suburbs, Installment 110

Monday looms on the horizon and Sara is distracting herself from the investigation… but not for long!

By Sara Susannah Katz

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

njoying a brief respite from work and love-life drama, our columnist was last seen having lunch in her new home with Patricia, a friend whose marriage is on shaky ground. But what’s going on with the investigation at work?

Sunday, continued
The last time Patricia and I spoke, she was struggling to stay married. Her husband, who long ago declared his lack of sexual interest in my beautiful friend, was having an affair until Patricia found out and dragged him to therapy. “Not much has changed,” she says, taking a sip of iced
As far as I’m concerned, this qualifies as sickness.
tea and smiling wanly. “But I’m not giving up.” Patricia explains that she took a vow. “In sickness and in health,” she says. “As far as I’m concerned, this qualifies as sickness. I’m not bailing on him.”

I know she doesn’t mean it this way, but I can’t help but take this comment as a reproach. I quit my own marriage. Yes, yes, I know that I soldiered through a couple of years of marital counseling. But ultimately, however you slice it, I quit my marriage — and my husband wasn’t much worse than Patricia’s.

I watch her — my beautiful, gentle friend — and wonder what, really, is the difference between Patricia and me? Why would one stay in a bad marriage while the other bails? This is what I come up with:
  1. She’s a better person than I am.
  2. She’s stronger.
  3. She has a greater sense of responsibility.
  4. She is more of an optimist.
  5. I’m more realistic than she is (it’s not like Craig and I didn’t try for a very long time to improve our relationship).
  6. I care more about being happy than she does.
  7. She cares more about what the people will say/think/surmise (it’s a small town).
  8. I dwell more on my own mortality (life is too short to suffer in a bad marriage) since my parents died young, but her parents and even her grandmother are still alive.
Patricia says that so many of her friends and family members are urging her to leave her husband. “Once they start with that, I don’t want to talk to them anymore. That’s not the kind of support I need,” she says. So I don’t tell her to dump him. Instead I nod sympathetically and hold my tongue.

Sunday, 4 p.m.
Remember that song “I Don’t Like Mondays?” I’m not planning to “shoot, shoot, shoot the whole place down,” but I do understand the sentiment. In fact, I
I had no idea she’d applied for my job.
hate Sundays, too, because Monday is just around the corner, and I hate going back to work.

As the investigation continues, it has become increasingly clear that I’m being railroaded. (I pause here to say that I never really understood words like railroaded and trumped-up charges until now.) The investigation is a sham. Like the elections in Iran, the results are predetermined. I am in the crosshairs of a vindictive boss and manipulative coworker who will stop at nothing to destroy me, and why? Because I rejected their sexual advances. And why did I reject their sexual advances? Because one is a bilious, Machiavellian maniac who looks like a desiccated chicken and smells like dirty socks, and the other is a married player.

Monday, 8:30 a.m.
OK. This is creepy. And not just plain creepy, but Single White Female stalker-movie creepy. I’m in the restroom, washing my hands next to Veronica, the department secretary who has an institutional memory as accurate and comprehensive as the Library of Congress. She tells me that Charmaine S. Blith had applied for my job three years ago — my job, the one I have at this very moment — didn’t get it, and never quite recovered from the fact that I was hired instead. Oh, wait. It gets worse. It also turns out that the hermetically sealed, relationship-averse Charmaine also had a ginormous crush on Burt, but her affections were unrequited. “So if anyone’s out to get you,” Veronica intones, “it’s Charmaine. Better watch your back, girl.”

I am picturing Charmaine’s bedroom wall plastered with photos of me and red bull’s-eyes over my face. I had no idea she’d applied for my job. So, on top of being an anal-retentive, sexually repressed, aging Barbie doll with a Formica coating (nonporous, close-minded), she may also be a driven and tormented rival. Lovely.

Sara Susannah Katz is a writer in the Midwest.

Read Single In The Suburbs, Part 111

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