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Single In The Suburbs, Installment 122


Sara and Ethan are eager to see each other just a few days after they first met. Are sparks flying?

By Sara Susannah Katz

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

n our last installment, our columnist fabricated a repair emergency just so she’d have an excuse to spend more time with Ethan after returning home from Florida. He seemed just as eager to see Sara again and agreed to come over right away. Is this the romantic connection she’s been hoping for all along, or is Sara just distracting herself from Craig’s nostalgic phone calls?


Sunday night, continued
Ethan will be here in 20 minutes. Normally I’d be racing around the house to straighten up and slap some makeup on my face but, oddly, I feel perfectly comfortable letting Ethan see me, and the house, in its natural state. A guy who lived in an ashram, still wears a ponytail, and barters his handyman
I feel perfectly comfortable letting Ethan see me, and the house, in its natural state.
services for lasagna doesn’t seem like the sort who’d be attracted to a woman slathered in mascara and lipstick… I think.

Well, maybe I’ll put on just a touch of lip gloss. And undereye concealer.

Sunday, 9 p.m.
I hear a motorcycle and go to the window. It’s Ethan. On a Harley (at least it sounds like a Harley: DEAFENING).

Sunday, 9:15 p.m.
Ethan is standing now standing in my laundry room, preparing to pull the washing machine away from the wall. Even if I didn’t clean the house, I seriously regret not taking the time to clean the rat cage. Ethan doesn’t seem to mind, though. “Most people think rats are creepy but those folks just don’t understand, do they?” He is directing his comments to my rats, Mavis, BeBe and CeCe. He’s holding Mavis in his palm while she inspects his chin. “I used to have a pair myself. Lucy and Ethel. Cutest little girls. And smart!”

I can feel it. We’re bonding. Over rats. And did I mention how sexy he looks in his black Bob Dylan T-shirt?

Darn. There goes my phone. And because my daughter is somewhere out in the world and not home at the moment, I am compelled to answer it, in case she needs me. “Hello?”

It’s Craig. I step into the kitchen to take the call. I ask him if everything’s okay. He says he’s just calling to say hi. There is a coy softness in his voice that I recognize. I don’t want to think about this right now. He just needs to find himself a new girlfriend and everything will be fine. I tell him I’m in the middle of something. (Why couldn’t I bring myself to tell him that I’m with someone at the moment?)

As Ethan squats down to examine the hose leading to the spigot behind the machine, I can’t help
My heart sinks a little. Who is Jessica?
but notice how he looks from behind. His ponytail is the kind I like on a man, around shoulder length and healthy looking, not the stringy, straggly kind you often see on guys his age. I hate that look.

Don’t ask me why, but I’ve always been attracted to guys with what Emma Thompson refers to as “a little upholstery” (while describing a then-pregnant Arnold Schwarzenegger in the movie Junior). In ninth grade, I had a fierce crush on a boy I used to see at the bowling alley. I didn’t know his name, so I gave him one: F.B.C., which stood for Fat But Cute. He wasn’t really fat, just husky. (Remember when department stores had a “husky” section? I don’t think they still exist.) Ethan’s not fat, he’s solid and muscular and I am definitely attracted to him. Body, hair, mouth, hands — all of it.

As I watch him un-kink the washing machine hose (and feel a little guilty, since I this is a job I could easily have done for myself) I notice a tattoo on his left forearm. It’s an old-school heart tattoo with two bluebirds holding up a banner that reads: Jessica. My heart sinks a little. Who is Jessica?

“Nice tat,” I say, tossing out the slang as if it’s something I say all the time. Casually, like I’m some kind of connoisseur of body art. Actually, it really is nice. The birds are a vivid teal, the lettering is ornate but not gaudy and the crimson heart has subtle highlights and shading.

Ethan pats his arm and smiles. I’m waiting for him to volunteer Jessica’s identity but he is working intently on the hose attached to the back of my washing machine. He says it’s not just kinked, it’s clogged. He wants to take it into the yard to flush it out. I lead him to the back door, flip on the porch light and show him the spigot by the deck. I sit on the damp steps and watch him work. I’m cold but I want to be outside with him.

Now my phone is ringing. I squint at the screen. It’s Craig. Again. This time I ignore the call.

“I’ve heard it’s bad luck to get a tattoo of your lover’s name,” I say. Then, I wait.


Sara Susannah Katz is a writer in the Midwest.

Read Single In The Suburbs, Part 123


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