Single In The Suburbs, Installment 5

In this installment, our author has met someone new online—a doctor who lives 100+ miles away. Can he be as good as he sounds?

By Sara Susannah Katz

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

n her previous column, our recently divorced writer found that her great date Kevin may not be ready for romance. Fortunately, there’s someone new on the horizon.

Saturday, 11:58 P.M.
I’m exhausted but I feel compelled to take another peek at my email. I’ve got to admit, finding my inbox glutted with responses is a real ego boost. I click through the messages.
  • Bachelor Number One seems to be falling in love with me and he hasn’t even met me. He says he can tell by my eyes that I am a “hopeless romantic” and he’s sure we could
    My ex admits there’s “trouble in paradise” with his young honey.
    have a wonderful life together. Um, I don’t think so.
  • Bachelor Number Two says he loves my profile but hates dogs. I have dogs and how can anyone hate dogs? I send him a polite “no thanks” reply and move on to…
  • Bachelor Number Three, a lawyer, sounds way too athletic for a couch potato like me.
  • Number Four says he loves my picture and mentions that he’s looking for women who are “open-minded about sex.” I ask him to explain what he means by that. I’m not a prude but I’m not into orgies either.
  • Number Five insists he’s only 42 but he looks old enough to be my grandfather. No, make that my great-grandfather. I’m too tired to think of a nice way to turn him down so I save this one for another day.

I feel compelled to refresh the page JUST ONE MORE TIME before I got to sleep and sure enough, there’s another email from Tony, the guy who’s concerned about our size difference. He is not, as I’d feared, super short. On the contrary, he’s 6’7”. I don’t think it should be a problem. In fact, I think it’s kind of cute that he’d be worried.

His email gives a snapshot of his life. A doctor, divorced for six years, father of two young boys. He says he has met quite a few women online but nothing has panned out. “I was ready to give up hope and then I read your profile,” he writes. I’m flattered. Wait a minute. Maybe he says that to everybody. I keep reading. He says he has all the accoutrements of a good life — including a sailboat and summer home — but “I know I’d enjoy my life even more if I could share it with someone.”

One problem. He lives almost three hours away. He says he’s willing to make the drive for the “right person” and wonders whether I feel the same way. “Yes,” I write back, “I do.” I tell him a bit more about my life and times, then force myself to go to sleep.

Sunday, 9:15 A.M.
Lots to accomplish today — five loads of laundry, repainting the basement — and I welcome the distraction. I don’t want to ruminate about Kevin and his insistence on keeping our relationship platonic. But I can’t resist at least a little rumination. It seems so unfair. We had such a great time last night. And the chemistry is obviously there. Is he
I Google Tony, and I’m relieved to see that he’s really a doctor.
being overly cautious or prudent? Am I a stubborn fool for holding out hope that he’ll change his mind? I shouldn’t. He made it clear. He said, “I like being your friend.” The more I think about it, the more it sounds like something Mr. Rogers would say. I find myself feeling annoyed, even resentful.

OK. Deep cleansing breath. The laundry awaits.

Sunday, 2:45 P.M.
I managed to coerce one of my teenagers into helping me with the basement. We painted side by side in silence for a while, and then, suddenly, she asked whether I had met any nice guys online. I hadn’t realized she knew about my Internet escapades. I guess I forgot to log off last night and my darling offspring decided to do a little investigating (darn that back button!).

I tell her that I’m just “browsing” and haven’t really met the right person yet. I have to admit, I’m tempted to spill my guts about Kevin and now this new guy Tony. I restrain myself. Even though she’d probably enjoy processing all this girl stuff with me, I know it would be a mistake. No matter how savvy and supportive this 14-year-old may appear, she’s my daughter, not my buddy, and she’s still adjusting to the fact that her parents are no longer together. I’m not going to tell her anything about my dating life beyond the bare essentials.

Sunday, 10:30 P.M.
Must go to sleep. Must also check email just one more time. Number Four, the guy who is looking for an open-minded woman, has written back. He says he wants someone who’s willing to experiment sexually. I decide that I don’t even want to know what he means by that and tell him thanks, but no thanks.

No new responses and nothing from Kevin. I try not to feel demoralized. At least there’s Tony.

I wonder: Can I handle a long-distance romance? If things work out, one of us will have to make some hard decisions about leaving town, family and job. My daughter doesn’t graduate from high school for another four years. I can’t possibly move away. Tony would just have to move here. But would he find work here? Would he be happy in a smaller city?

As usual I’m getting ahead of myself. Maybe Bachelor Number One was right about me: I’m a hopeless romantic.

Monday, 11:45 A.M.
Email from Tony. He wants to see me. This Saturday. He insists that he doesn’t mind the drive. “I’ve got plenty of books on tape and, besides, I think you’re worth the effort.” Smiley face. I am aware that I’m both charmed and a little apprehensive. When your only communication is e-mail, it’s hard to tell if someone’s handing you a line. I suggest he call me and I give him my number. A moment later, my phone rings.

I’m happy to report that Tony seems honest and kind and nothing like the slick smooth-talker I’d feared. As he supplies information — his last name, location, the kind of medicine he practices — I quietly Google him and I’m relieved to see that he’s a real doctor, not some kind of psycho liar.

We agree that he’ll drive down this Friday, straight from work. I’m concerned that he’ll be exhausted by the time he gets here. I also worry that he’ll insist on staying the night, but decide that he can always get a hotel room, single occupancy. He promises to send me a picture.

Monday, 8:20 P.M.
The picture has arrived. He’s cute! He doesn’t have a lot of hair, but that’s OK. Hair (or lack thereof) has never been a deal-breaker for me. Nice body, blue eyes, ruddy complexion, friendly smile. He’s on the beach with his kids, and they all look happy. What’s not to like?

Tuesday, 5:45 P.M.
My ex-husband calls as I’m heading home from work. He says he wants to talk about our daughter’s science grades, but I can tell there’s something bothering him. (Married or not, I am still attuned to his moods.) Craig admits that there’s “trouble in paradise” with his young honey, and he worries whether the age difference poses insurmountable problems. I offer sympathy and try not to feel smug. He asks about my romantic life; misery loves company, and I’m sure he’s hoping I have equally dismal news to report. I tell him I’ve got a few prospects but nothing serious. He seems relieved.

Thursday, 7 P.M.
I’m meeting Tony in 24 hours, and I’m nervous. I wish we’d had more contact over these last few days, but Tony doesn’t seem to care much for email or phone calls. I mention this to Sherry (yes, I know I promised I wouldn’t talk to her about my Internet adventures but who else is there?), and she says that her brother-in-law is a doctor and he’s exactly the same way. “They’re busy, and they don’t have time for small talk,” she says. “What matters most is how he communicates in person. Don’t worry. It’ll be fine.” With this bit of advice, Sherry has redeemed herself. I no longer feel quite so isolated now that I have a friend to talk to, and I’m not feeling as panicky either. Everything’s going to be fine. I can feel it in my bones.

Sara Susannah Katz is a writer in the Midwest.

Read Single In The Suburbs, Part 6

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