Single In The Suburbs, Installment 3

In the third installment of our dating diary, our single mom discovers there’s someone very, very exciting out there…

By Sara Susannah Katz

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

n her previous column, our recently divorced writer went on a disappointing first date with her Harley guy. But now there’s someone new on the horizon…

Saturday 2:35 P.M.
After my pitiful “date” with the sad, Taurus—driving bald Gilbert (who was simply bald, and not the cool kind of bald often associated with sleek, Harley-driving men), I was afraid I’d never find the right guy.

Then there was this e-mail from Kevin, an adorable, puppy-loving, wry economics professor—and all at once I am infused with new hope.

“Yes, friendship is fine with me,” I tell him, which isn’t exactly the whole truth.
Just one problem with Kevin’s profile: He states, quite explicitly, that he is “only looking for friends.” I decide to e-mail him and find out what, exactly, he means by that.

His response comes within moments. “I’m still raw from a breakup,” he writes. “It’s too soon for me to get serious. So if it’s OK with you, I’d like to try friendship first. How does that sound?”

Honestly, I’m not sure how it sounds. I think of my ex-husband, who is living with his new, very young, very limber girlfriend and doing all the things I want for myself: nesting together, cooking dinner together, waking up together, planning a future.

There I go, racing ahead of myself again. I’ll be first to admit it: I am a relentless romantic. Even after a failed marriage and today’s failed date with the frail Gilbert, I keep thinking that the next one could be The One. Most of my friends think I’m frivolous and misguided. “You’ve got to learn to love your solitude,” my friend Sherry exhorts. “You need to be happy being alone. You’re a free woman, for God’s sake. Enjoy it!”

That’s easy for her to say. Sherry is married. She has someone to commiserate with when her boss is driving her crazy, to snuggle with on cold nights and celebrate with in happy times. All my married friends, in fact, seem truly bewildered by my interest in online dating. Sometimes I feel so misunderstood. I think maybe I need to find some single friends.

Saturday 6:40 P.M.
Somehow I resist the urge to respond immediately to Kevin’s e-mail. I don’t want him to know how eager I am. Great; I’m already playing games.

But after a few hours of contemplating his question—whether it’s OK with me to start as friends—I return to my computer and write back.
“Nice to meet you too,” I say, trying to ignore the warm rush spreading through my body.
“Yes, friendship is fine with me,” I tell him, which isn’t exactly the whole truth. But given the fact that my therapist has urged me to keep my relationships platonic as long as possible, it isn’t a pants-on-fire lie either.

We agree to meet Wednesday night at the new ribs place on the west side. “Since we’re friends, I won’t have to worry about getting BBQ sauce all over my face,” he wrote, adding a smiley face.

I consider this for a moment. I am going to eat dinner with a charming man who isn’t worried about making a mess of himself because we aren’t aiming for romance, just friendship. It is an intriguing concept: To feel relaxed on a date. But this isn’t a date, right?

Monday, 5:14 P.M.
Craig calls to see if I would take the kids Wednesday night. I remind him that it’s his night to have them and that I’d already made plans.

“You’ve got a date?” he asks. I know that I’m not obligated to answer him but I feel compelled to let him know that I am no longer a reclusive spinster. He isn’t the only one with wild oats to sow.

“Sort of,” I blurt out.

“What do you mean, ‘sort of’? Either you have a date or you don’t.”

“He just wants to be friends for now,” I tell him. Jeez. Why am I telling my ex-husband this? It’s none of his business. I hurry to get off the phone.


“Yes?” I ask. I am anxious to get off the phone.

“Be careful, OK? You know. With this whole Internet dating thing.”

Craig isn’t my husband anymore but he is still my friend. I assure him that I will be careful.

Wednesday, 5:19 P.M.
I am getting dressed for my not-a-date. I decide against anything too flattering and forgo the eye shadow in favor of a swipe of lip gloss and a little mascara. If we’re aiming for friendship, I decide, then I’ll dress for friendship.

Wednesday, 7 P.M. sharp
I am standing at the doorway of the restaurant, waiting. Everyone who crosses the threshold is coupled. Teen couples. Retired couples. Happy couples. Sullen couples. Childless couples, pregnant couples, and couples with kids.

And me, waiting for my new “friend.”

Suddenly, there he is, smiling and waving and just as good-looking as his photo. I go to shake his hand but he pulls me in for a bear hug. “Hey, buddy,” he says. “Nice to meet you.”

“Nice to meet you too,” I say, trying to ignore the warm rush spreading through my body.

Kevin and I spend the next two hours talking, laughing, sharing dog stories and recounting favorite episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm. We agree to meet again on Saturday night which, if memory serves, is traditionally date night. But this isn’t a date, I remind myself. We’re only friends.


Sara Susannah Katz is a writer in the Midwest.

Read Single In The Suburbs, Part 4

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