Single In The Suburbs, Installment 132

Enraged by Craig’s insulting attempt to win her back, Sara abandons the coffee shop for a rendezvous to meet Ethan and his dogs at his cabin.

By Sara Susannah Katz

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

n our last installment, Sara stormed, humiliated, out of the coffee shop after Craig made a half-hearted attempt at reconciling with her and headed directly for Ethan’s cabin just outside of town. Is she ready to move on… for good?

Wednesday, 3:30 p.m.
I could be wrong, but I think Ethan just asked me if I want to go steady. I decide to handle this the way they do on TV shows. Rather than answer in words, I smile and step toward him, then kiss him warmly.

“I’ll take that as a yes,” he says. I smile
I think Ethan just asked me if I want to go steady.

Ethan takes my hand and leads me into his house. It’s airy and elegant, with mid-century modern furniture, vivid contemporary art and, along one wall, he’s got an extensive collection of retro tin robots (I was expecting something rough-hewn and countrified. Boy, was I wrong…). Blazing logs are crackling in the fireplace and there’s a loaf of warm bread and a hunk of butter on the coffee table, along with two frosty bottles of Stella Artois.

“What’s all this?” I ask, gesturing toward the tantalizing tableau that awaits us.

“This is ‘I’m sorry for being a nosy jackass.’ I hope you’ll forgive me.”

“Forgiven and forgotten.”

Thursday, 7:20 a.m.
I wake up in Ethan’s arms, surrounded by soft feather pillows and sunlight. I listen to Ethan’s easy breathing and wrap my arm around him for a few more minutes of snuggling before I have to get dressed and get myself to work. He rolls over and smiles. “This feels so right,” he says.

“I know,” I say. “It really does.” Then I remember Craig and that stupid Mr. T bobblehead and suddenly feel disloyal — to both of them.

“Why are you frowning?” he asks.

“Am I?”

“You most certainly are.” He rubs the crease between my eyebrows with his thumb. “What’s up, sweet one?”

I hope he’s not a mind reader, because I am about to lie. “Ah, I just don’t want to go to work today. Not when the bed is so warm and toasty and it’s so cold out and you look so yummy.”

I expect him to suggest I play hooky but he nods and says he understands. “People are counting on you. You have an important job.”

“It’s not that important and I’m not sure anyone’s really counting on me. But they don’t take kindly to unplanned absences and I really need this job.”

“I understand,” Ethan says, again. “Can I make you breakfast? It won’t take but a minute for me to grab some eggs from the chicken coop.”

Ethan has a chicken coop? This man is full of surprises. I glance at the alarm clock on the end table. I tell him I’ll have to take a rain check. “Maybe you can introduce me to your chickens next time.”

“Oh, I don’t know, Sara. That’s pretty serious.”

I grab a pillow and pop him on the head. He flips me over and soon we’re kissing again, and you can
They’re not even required to give me two weeks’ notice.
imagine the rest. And yes, I am going to be late for work.

Wednesday, 10:15 a.m.
When I walk into the building I can feel it immediately; a bleakness blankets the whole office. Adrian gives me a grim look as I step through the door. “What’s wrong?” I ask, trying to sound casual.

“Didn’t you see the paper this morning?”

“No. I haven’t had time. What’s going on?”

“Check your email.”

Now the catastrophic thoughts are flying fast and furious. The boss is dead. There’s been an anthrax contamination. The organization is bankrupt. A terrorist attack. “Oh, for God’s sake, Adrian, just tell me.”

She swivels her chair around to face her computer and clicks around until she gets to a message from the director of human resources. The state has cut our funding. Downsizing will commence at once. Pay cuts are imminent. Layoffs are likely. Every department will be affected. Apologies for the impersonal nature of this message. More information will be shared as soon as it becomes available.

Adrian looks up at me. “Some people are saying our unit will be the first to go.”

“To go?”

“You know, to get cut.”

“Cut or downsized?”

“Not sure,” Adrian says. “Either way, it’s going to be bad for us.” I’m inclined to believe her. The secretaries here have an almost infallible intelligence network. They know who’s being fired, having an affair, being transferred, undergoing a disciplinary investigation or any number of major and minor newsflashes long before it is made public. One advantage to being a member of the support staff is that your job is safe, downsizing or not. Unlike professional staff, our secretaries are part of a union. They’re practically untouchable. If our department gets downsized, the powers that be would sooner get rid of me than eliminate one of the secretaries. And if our department is eliminated altogether, Adrian can rest assured that she’ll be transferred to another one within the organization. I, on the other hand, would be out on the street the same day. They’re not even required to give me two weeks’ notice. I’d be toast.

I pick up the phone and call down to Dolores Weitz, a stay-at-home mother and friend from my former life as Craig’s wife. Her husband works in HR here. I ask her if she’s heard anything.

“It’s bad, Sara. I mean, it was bad before with the economy and all, but with the state funding cut, they’re going to start dumping whole departments. The non-essentials.”

“Is marketing and communications considered non-essential?” I ask, trying to sound normal. I hear my voice cracking. I’m trying very hard not to cry right now.

“You’ll find out soon enough. Pete says it’s all going down today.”

“So what do I do now?”

“You just wait, I guess. Just sit there and wait.”

Attention, faithful fans of Single in the Suburbs! Our writer, Sara, will be winding down her column with the final installment scheduled to appear in October 2010. We’d love to hear how the ongoing saga of Sara’s love life has affected you personally. Have you tried online dating yourself? Have you struggled to re-enter the dating world after the end of a long-term relationship? Did Sara’s story encourage you to get out there and date again? Send your thoughts to Your comments and stories may be included in a follow-up article discussing the series’ overall impact and what Sara sees for herself in the future.

Sara Susannah Katz is a writer in the Midwest.

Read Single In The Suburbs, Part 133

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