Single In The Suburbs, Installment 125

After endless flirting, Ethan and Sara have finally admitted their mutual attractions to each other. But will Sara’s baggage with ex-husband Craig outweigh Ethan’s crazy ex?

By Sara Susannah Katz

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

n our last installment, Ethan and Sara were finally opening up about their mutual attraction to each other, but not without some trepidation. Ethan’s got some baggage of his own, it seems — but is Sara’s ex going to stand in the way of yet another potential romance?

Sunday, 9:45 p.m.
Ethan is sitting on the couch and his “hmm” is still hanging in the air. I don’t know what the deal is with his ex-wife, but I have to assume it’s closer to the norm than my own situation with Craig. I know it’s weird that Craig and I are such good friends. We frequently chat on Facebook and I’m currently babysitting his one and only houseplant, a flowerless orchid his last girlfriend gave him. Every now and then we meet for lunch or dinner with
Ethan says he’s never seen anything like it.
the kids (but just as often without them) in order to catch up on parenting issues and life in general. If Craig gets sick, I’ve been known to pick up his prescriptions and I know he’d do the same for me. So, yes, we’re divorced, but still very much involved in each other’s lives — as friends.

I decide to change the subject. “So what do you think of my fireplace?” It’s a simple blackened copper fireplace set into the corner of the living room. I’d bought this thing online and still can’t decide if it’s amazing or pathetic. Basically, it’s gelled alcohol in a can. You open the cans, light it with a match and — violà — real fire. It crackles and pops like a wood fire and gives off a little heat. And it’s light enough to set up anywhere in the house. I could even put it in the bathroom for a truly luxurious bubble bath.

The thing is, it’s not a wood fireplace. It’s not a gas fireplace. It’s not even an electric fireplace. It’s three cans of alcohol. Period. There are moments when I think it’s great and other times when I feel sorry for myself. Craig and I had a massive sandstone fireplace in our first house; it was big enough to fit a tree trunk and served as a stunning focal point in our living room. We had a custom built mantel and wood-burning fireplace in our McMansion. Now I’m divorced and my fireplace consists of three cans of alcohol.

Ethan says he’s never seen anything like it: “But it’s cool. No fuss, no muss. I like it!”

I remember that I’d wanted him to take a look at the sliding door in my bedroom. This time I’m not faking. It’s actually broken. He follows me down to my bedroom and, as we’re standing there, my bed seems to be radiating some seductive magnetic energy (maybe I’m just imagining it). He bends down to inspect the bottom track. “Take a look at this,” he says, gesturing for me to join him on the floor. “See this?”

I peer down at the bottom of the closet. I don’t see anything. “Over here,” he says.
Not the case with Ethan. He knows what he’s doing.
I move in closer, and just as I realize what he’s pointing out — a big dent in the track — Ethan turns to kiss me. He puts his hand behind my head to pull me gently toward him. Oh. My. God. He is really good at this. I’m wondering where this is going — after all, the bed is only two feet away — but he stops suddenly and just looks at me.

“That was nice,” he says.

“I agree.” As old as I am, the first kiss is still a big deal to me. You figure out how (or whether) your faces are going to fit together. You discover tastes and scents and, ultimately, your shared chemical connection (or lack thereof). Some guys are wet sloppy kissers who seem intent on swallowing your whole head. Not the case with Ethan. He knows what he’s doing.

I’m surprised when he doesn’t kiss me again, but I’m trying not to over-analyze this. It’s a kiss. It’s a start. Stop worrying, Sara.

Then my phone rings. Assuming it’s Craig, I am prepared to ignore the call until I see that it’s my son. Apparently, his car died in the middle of an intersection. He’s fine, thank God, but he’s also stranded in the cold, waiting for the AAA truck to show up. I tell him I’ll be right over. Ethan offers to drive with me. He says he knows it can take forever for the tow truck to show up and, in the meantime, maybe he can figure out what’s wrong with my kid’s car.

I hate to impose, but he’s the one who made the offer, so... “Sure. That would be great.”

We pull up to the curb. First I see my son with his stalled car. And then I see my ex-husband, getting ready to pop the hood. Craig seems happy to see me, but his smile quickly fades when he notices Ethan.

Sara Susannah Katz is a writer in the Midwest.

Read Single In The Suburbs, Part 126

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