Single In The Suburbs, Installment 9

In the 9th installment, our author finds a big surprise waiting when she goes to visit her new beau, a divorced doctor.

By Sara Susannah Katz

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

n our last installment, our author was relieved to find out that Tony hadn’t fibbed about who he was…and so she decided to accept his invitation for a weekend visit.

Friday, 5:45 p.m.
I’m on the road, Elvis Costello blasting through the speakers, moon roof open and the pedal quite firmly to the metal. The matte jersey pants and matching tank top were chosen for its wrinkle resistance and my make-up, freshly applied, is the 12-hour variety. If this were a normal date I’d have time to shower, change and revive myself before seeing Tony—but this isn’t a normal date. I’m driving two and a half hours, straight from my office, to see a man I don’t really know. I’m trying not to feel wilted after a full day of work.

I must confess, I’m not much of a daredevil. When I was in high school I jumped into a motorboat with
I must confess, I’m not much of a daredevil.
a guy who invited me and my brother to join him and, as we sped across the bay, I remember thinking, if I don’t survive this it will have been the stupidest thing I’ve ever done. But I did survive and instead of being stupid, it was probably the most exhilarating thing I’d ever done. But I still regret it. When I was in college I passionately kissed a man I’d met only moments before in a bar. When he invited me to his apartment I quickly declined and never heard from him again. The boat, the kiss, and an impulsive ride in a helicopter in my early 20s—that, quite frankly, is about the extent of my thrill-seeking.

Until today.

Friday, 8 p.m.
I manage to make it to Tony’s house without getting lost, a minor miracle for someone as navigationally challenged as I am. His neighborhood is pretty, with the kind of all-American look you see in movies. I check his address. It should be one of these houses right here. I slow down and look for the white house with the porch.

Oh no. This can’t be it. I do find a white house with a porch. And the address on the curb matches the address Tony gave me. But this house, a ramshackle Victorian with dilapidated gingerbread trim, can’t possibly be the house of a prominent physician. I hate to be shallow, but this is a major letdown. This looks more like a college-student rental with that old brown couch on the porch and a moth-eaten Lazy-Boy recliner beside it. I try not to cringe as I make my way up the stairs to a massive door in etched glass and worn oak. I catch sight of a mailbox and quickly pull out some junk mail to check the name and address. Yes, I concede miserably, this is definitely Tony’s house.

I clunk on the tarnished door-knocker. Tony — all six feet, seven inches of him — appears in the doorway. I noticed that he’s wearing a wrinkled shirt, shorts, and — most distressing of all — what appear to be anklet socks. He smiles lazily and gives me a (nice, actually) kiss. I cross the threshold and survey the place, a cavernous old house with crappy furniture. I tell myself that his ex-wife must have gotten all the good stuff in the divorce.

Tony gives me a tour of the house and each room is more demoralizing than the one before. I’m no clean-freak, believe me, but this place was truly gross. Dirty clothes on the living room floor, grime on the kitchen counter, crooked paintings on the wall,
Problem is, I’m not sure I like Tony very much.
stray shoes here and there. More troubling than the mess itself was the idea that Tony would invite me — or anyone — to his house without taking the time to straighten up. Even allowing for the fact that he’s a busy doctor and a guy, I saw it as a sign of supremely poor judgment.

He shows me to his son’s bedroom, where I will presumably be sleeping (although at this point all I really want to do is go home). He asks if I’d like to change my clothes before we go to dinner and then, as I’m considering the idea, he asks if I’ve brought a dress. As a matter of fact, I have, a pretty flowery thing I bought last year. He insists that I wear it. I decide to feel flattered instead of controlled.

Friday, 9 p.m.
Tony takes me to an excellent steak house in an old fire station. He suggests the filet mignon with sautéed mushrooms. I am tempted to order salmon just to see his reaction but decide against it. It’s too soon in the relationship to be passive-aggressive.

Over steak, then dessert and coffee, Tony tells me about his failed marriage and the children he adores. I learn about his mother and stepfather, his current research project, and his feelings about teaching medical students. I realize that we haven’t talked much about me but that’s OK. The zinfandel has put me in a mellow mood, and I’m content to sit and listen.

Now for a confession: As he talks, I am thinking that my life would be so much easier if I had someone like Tony to take care of me. God, that sounds so awful. But where can I be completely honest if not in my own journal. I think of everything I’ve given up since my divorce—the big things like vacations as well as the little things like manicures. I think about my life BD (before divorce) and what it was like to know I never had to earn a paycheck to live comfortably. I don’t miss being married to Craig, but I miss my old life. Tony could give me that life again.

Problem is, I’m not sure I like Tony very much. He’s talking about his golf game now and I find myself wondering whether I’ve gotten any new responses to my profile. Then Tony suggests with an almost imperceptible wink that we go back to his house. I feel my stomach clench…

Sara Susannah Katz is a writer in the Midwest.

Read Single In The Suburbs, Part 10

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