Single In The Suburbs, Installment 123

Sara’s getting unwanted attention from Craig while growing closer to Ethan. But who’s Jessica?

By Sara Susannah Katz

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

n our last installment, our writer’s curiosity was piqued by the identity of the mysterious Jessica, a name tattooed — inside a heart, no less — on handyman Ethan’s forearm. Could that be a twinge of jealousy she feels? Perhaps she just needs a distraction from her suddenly too-friendly ex, Craig.

Sunday, 9:30 p.m.
Ethan looks confused. “Yeah, I heard that getting a name tattoo is like the kiss of death for any relationship. Like the Sports Illustrated magazine cover jinx,” he says. My father once told me that a skier who was pictured on the cover crashed into a tree and wound up paralyzed from the
Getting a name tattoo is like the kiss of death for any relationship.
neck down. When the magazine featured the University of Oklahoma football team, the team lost — after 47 consecutive wins. Some skater in the early 60s died in a plane crash after she made the cover. Apparently, throughout the magazine’s history, athletes and teams featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated have met their doom in one way or another. I experienced something like this when I worked for a trade magazine that covered the housewares business. Many of the companies we profiled in our pages wound up tanking within a year.

“I sat next to a tattoo artist on a plane once who told me that if anyone comes into her shop asking for a name tattoo, she talks them out of it,” I say casually, trying not to sound pushy. “Didn’t Johnny Depp have to change ‘Winona Forever’ to ‘Wino Forever?’ And I think I read somewhere that Tom Arnold has a giant tattoo of Roseanne Barr on his chest.”

He finally realizes what I’m getting at. “Ohhhh. No. Um. Jessica’s my kid,” says Ethan, a bit awkwardly. “She’s my first born. Just started college. I miss her so much. That’s why I got the tattoo.” After a long pause, he shyly asks me whether I have any tattoos. Not yet, I tell him. Not that I wouldn’t consider it, just that I haven’t found a design I think I could live with for the rest of my life. I live in an artsy part of town and lots of people around here have massive tattoos on their necks and knuckles and eyelids — I even saw a guy with the entire Periodic Table of Elements on his back — and when I see things like that I think, How are you going to feel about that tattoo when you’re 55 years old?

“Anyway, yeah, Jessica’s my lovely daughter. Not my wife.” Ethan’s grinning now and I’m sure he knows
I’d decided that I wouldn’t even go online at all.
what I’m thinking. I’m blushing so hard I’m sure the top of my head’s about to pop off. I bend over to tie my shoelaces (which were tied just fine in the first place). I don’t want him to catch the look of relief on my face. I’ve been told that I’d be terrible at poker because I’m so easy to read.

“And I don’t believe in jinxes,” he says. “I’m not superstitious. But I do think I’m lucky.”

The hose is now officially unclogged and ready to be reconnected to the washing machine, Ethan announces. Then he gives me this look and says, “You knew how to fix this yourself, didn’t you?”

Busted. I nod and smile.

We’re now back in my cramped little laundry room. I notice one of my bras on a heap of clean laundry waiting to be folded. It’s the black lacy bra, and I’m well aware of my inclination to leave it out in plain sight.

Despite the fact that he’s working hard to get this hose hooked up, he smells wonderful. Not like cologne. More like oatmeal. Delicious. It’s amazing how you can almost feel an electric charge when you’re attracted to someone; being this close to him makes me feel warm and a little woozy. I wonder if he’s feeling it, too. I ask him why he thinks he’s lucky.

Ethan says that he often seems to be at the right place at the right time. “For instance, I wasn’t planning on going on Craigslist the day I saw your ad. As a matter of fact, I’d decided that I wouldn’t even go online at all. I’m online so much sometimes I think I’m living a virtual life. I just needed to unplug for a day, you know?”

So, he considers himself lucky because he saw my post on Craigslist? I feel my face flushing again. And then he drops this bombshell: “But my girlfriend suggested I cruise Craigslist to see if anyone needed a handyman.”

Sara Susannah Katz is a writer in the Midwest.

Read Single In The Suburbs, Part 124

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