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Single In The Suburbs, Installment 1


In this first installment of our dating diary, a divorced mom in the Midwest sets out on her quest for love.

By Sara Susannah Katz

ere I am: The 40-something mom of two, living in a tidy Midwestern suburban subdivision and working at the local university—and, at this moment, sitting here in front of my computer, determined to find a date. I’m searching within a 60-mile radius of my zip code for a single guy about my age who doesn’t smoke, is reasonably fit and, preferably, is not living in his mother’s basement.

Sure, I’d like to find the love of my life, my soul mate, my next husband, but I suspect that those goals are a bit too ambitious. Especially for my first time out with the Internet dating thing. Online
I admit it: I’m a nervous about dating again. I literally have not kissed another man on the lips in 25 years.
dating seems right to me because the pool of available men around here is more like a puddle: small and shallow. Plus, I like the idea of perusing men’s profiles the way I look at shoes on Nordstrom's Web site, in the privacy of my bedroom, at my own pace, and in total control.

Still, I’m a little apprehensive about all this. I can’t believe I’m about to start dating again, after 23 years with the same guy. I met my ex, Craig—who’s a handsome, brash charmer—back in college. I was editor of the college newspaper; he was president of the debating club. After a passionate six months, we were engaged. And after 23 argumentative years of marriage (what did I expect from the president of the debating club?), we are now divorced.

We separated as friends a year ago, sharing custody of two teenagers who adjusted surprisingly well to the split. I’ve got the big house in the ‘burbs, and Craig and his girlfriend Heather live in his condo on the lake (by my calculation she was two years old on our wedding day, I feel compelled to mention.) Something really shifted inside me when Heather moved into Craig’s place. I realized that it was time to give up the secret fantasy that Craig and I might get back together again someday. That’s when I finally took my wedding picture off the shelf in the family room and packed it away and said to myself, it’s time to move on. So that’s what I’m doing.

Friday 8:00 PM
A red-headed lawyer who loves to give foot rubs. A sad-looking carpenter who says he’s tired of head games and likes my smile. A police officer looking for an uninhibited lady for good times. And a sexy-looking, Harley-riding bald dude who suggests we ride his bike around the lake.

Friday 9:42 PM
After reading and re-reading my first batch of responses, I impulsively write to the Harley-riding bald guy, making good on a promise to my therapist to inject some adventure into my quiet life.

“Nice ride,” I write, aiming for a flirty tone. “You look great in leather. Tell me more.” I must be insane. I’m a minivan-driving suburban mom whose idea of adventure is ordering a margarita at Applebee’s on a weekday. Risky behavior would be holding my garage sale even though it looks like rain. And thrill-seeking is shopping at Target when all the Halloween stuff is marked down to 75% off.

I’ve never been on a motorcycle. I’ve never even been on a moped. Heck, I haven’t even ridden my
I finally took my wedding picture off the shelf, packed it away and said to myself, it’s time to move on.
Schwinn in three years. I send off my e-mail and sit there, staring at the screen. I can’t believe I’m doing this. A year ago I was Craig’s wife and assumed I’d remain that way until one of us dropped dead. Today I’m answering e-mails from total strangers who want to rub my feet and drive me around the lake.

I admit it: I’m nervous about dating again. I literally have not kissed another man on the lips in 25 years. I’m not sure I remember how to French kiss (by the time our marriage ended, Craig and I were pecking like platonic friends). And then there are the other questions: What if I never find someone I like? What do guys expect these days—sex on the first date?

I take a deep breath and then another. One day at a time, I tell myself. Or one date at a time. Relax. You’re a free woman. This could actually be fun.

Friday 10:03 PM
I reload my mailbox. Bald Harley guy has already responded. He suggests that we meet at Panera’s tomorrow at noon. I’m a little concerned about all the misspellings in his note. Sixteen in all. I counted. I reread his profile and see that he describes himself as self-employed but under income it says “No answer.” Hmm.

“I’ll be there,” I write back. Coffee in a public place? How bad could it be? I have to start somewhere, right?

The big question: What am I going to wear? Maybe the new prairie skirt with a denim jacket. Or that black wrap dress that always makes me look 10 pounds lighter. Wait a second: We’re talking Panera’s in the middle of the day and this guy’s a biker dude, not a venture capitalist. I finally settle on capri jeans, a black tank top and red mules. I hold the jeans and the top up in front of myself, look in the mirror and wonder, what on earth am I doing?


Sara Susannah Katz is a writer in the Midwest.

Read Single In The Suburbs, Part 2


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