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Single In The Suburbs, Installment 10


In this installment, our writer finds herself on a very surprising sleepover date with the doctor…

By Sara Susannah Katz

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

n our last installment, our columnist found herself surprised by the sad state of both her suitor’s home and their dinner conversation. Now, the rest of the long-distance date unfolds.

Friday, 10 p.m.
When we get back to Tony’s house, he directs me to his messy living room and asks me to sit down. I want to leave. I want to sleep in my own bed. I miss my kids. I miss my dogs. I am nervous about what comes next. But then I think about my ex-husband, Craig, and all his sexual escapades and decide, quite consciously, that I must have some escapades of my own. I feel that I owe it to myself to do something. I feel like I did in high school, when my virginity had become an embarrassing burden.

I let Tony kiss me. This goes on for a few minutes and then
He starts kissing me, and I let him pull my dress over my head.
he says, “Wouldn’t we be more comfortable doing this upstairs?”

“You mean, in your bed?”

He smiles at me. “Yes. In my bed.”

What I lack in desire I make up for in determination. And while I wouldn’t exactly say that I am in competition with Craig, I have to admit that I’m propelled by the knowledge that he has slept with a dozen women since we separated and I have slept with no one. I follow Tony upstairs, heart thumping. He leads me to his king-sized bed and starts kissing me again.

“There. Isn’t that better?” he asks.

“Sure.”

Then I see this contraption on the floor, near his side of the bed. I can’t tell if it’s a vacuum cleaner or a clothing steamer. It has a tank and a long white hose, and then — oh no — some kind of face mask.

Tony notices me noticing. “Oh, I meant to tell you. I have sleep apnea. I have to wear this at night. So I don’t croak in my sleep.”

Oh, now that’s appealing. I could feel whatever miniscule attraction I might have had for Tony quickly drain away. He pulls my face toward his. “But we don’t have to worry about that now.” He starts kissing me again, and I let him pull my dress over my head. I have decided to go through with this. It is a rite of passage.

I am now in Tony’s bed and we are both undressed. Seeing him this way does nothing to intensify my libido. If the sleep apnea contraption put a damper on my desire to have
“I can tell you’re not that attracted to me. And that’s OK.”
sex, his naked body is an even more powerful disincentive. But I soldier on. I remember what Craig enjoyed best and try that first. No response. I keep trying. Still nothing.

“I’m sorry,” Tony says. “I guess I’m tired. And I’m no spring chicken either.”

Tony is older than my ex husband and, to tell the truth, performance was never an issue with Craig. But now I suddenly understand what all those Viagra commercials are about. This is new terrain for me—but frankly, I’m relieved.

“I’m sorry,” Tony says again.

“It’s OK,” I say. “I’m sure you’re just tired.”

“Let’s just cuddle,” he says.

I curl up into the crook of his arm. As I begin to doze off I realize that Tony has put on his apnea apparatus. I shut my eyes tightly and pretend to be back home in my own bed. Soon, thank God, I am asleep and somehow manage to stay that way until sunrise.

Saturday, 7:42 a.m.
I wake to the smell of bacon and coffee. At first I’m disoriented to find myself in this strange bed, then see the sleep apnea machine, and reality comes rushing back. I wash up and brush my teeth, dress quickly, and pack my bags. I’m tempted to make the bed then decide against it; it wasn’t made when I got there so I am under no obligation. I gathered up my things — cringing to find my underwear on the floor — and pack my overnight bag.

“Hey, sleepy head,” Tony says. “Orange juice?”

“No, thanks. Coffee’s fine.”

The kitchen is messy, and everything appears to be coated with grease. I pull up a stool and reflect on the fact that I’d just shared a bed with someone who is, for the most part, a total stranger to me. And despite my determination, I did not have sex with him. I am not disappointed. I am relieved. I also know that I will never see Tony again. I eat his breakfast and make polite small talk then put my dish and mug in his overcrowded sink.

I thank him for a wonderful time and start walking toward his door.

“Hey. Wait a second. I know you’re eager to leave. Can we talk? Just for a minute?” He beckons me to sit down on the living room couch. I do.

“Look. I know this wasn’t an ideal date. I can tell you’re not that attracted to me. And that’s OK.”

I don’t know what to say so I keep my mouth shut.

“But I like you. You’re one of the most interesting women I’ve met in a long time. So I think we should try to stay in touch. I think we may have something to work with here. Do you think we can stay in touch?”

I’m flattered and I’m also too polite to tell him that I’m not interested. I smile and tell him I’d like that. And then I make my way out the door, down the stairs, across the lawn to my car, and begin my long drive home. Elvis Costello is still on my stereo. I lock the doors and crank up the stereo.

Sunday, 9:25 a.m.
There is no email from Tony, no phone call, no follow-up. There is, however, a new batch of responses to my profile, along with an email from Sherry, who wants to know if I made it home safely. And then I see an instant message from Craig.

“You’re home? Already?”

“Yes,” I type. “I’m back.”

“Did you have a good time?”

“It was OK,” I respond.

“Did you have sex?” he writes.

“None of your business,” I write back, shaking my head as I consider the flimsy boundaries of our relationship. Craig is my ex-husband. He isn’t supposed to ask me about my sex life.

Sunday, 11:20 a.m.
I’ve read the paper, mowed the yard and planted petunias in the pots on my deck. And while I’d promised myself I’d give myself some time before resuming my search for Mr. Right, I can’t resist peeking into my mailbox. I quickly scan the responses, and soon I am feeling hopeful again. One response is particularly intriguing. It’s from Leo, a college professor with kind eyes and a sweet, compelling smile. He tells me that he renewed his subscription for the sole purpose of contacting me. I am, of course, flattered. I will respond to him. But not today. Today I just want to sit on my deck and enjoy the sun.

Sunday, 11:35 a.m.
I guess it wouldn’t hurt to look at Leo’s profile. I know, I know—I promised I’d give myself some time to recover from my weekend with Tony but I am just so curious to know more about the man who actually renewed his subscription to contact me. Here I go...


Sara Susannah Katz is a writer in the Midwest.

Read Single In The Suburbs, Part 11


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