Single In The Suburbs, Installment 14

In this installment, it’s finally time for our writer to meet her very eager new online suitor, a mathematician named Leo.

By Sara Susannah Katz

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

mathematician named Leo has been courting our columnist online—and says he’s absolutely smitten by her. She’s a little less sure of her feelings for him…but has agreed to meet him for coffee.

Saturday, 10:30 a.m.
I am meeting Leo in a half hour, and I’m having a sudden crisis of confidence. My clothes are all wrong. My floral skirt makes me look like my bottom half is the size of Utah, and this sleeveless top makes my arms look like twin dolphins. I’d described myself as curvy, which could be interpreted as a euphemism for overweight. At the time I wrote my profile, I used the word descriptively, a modest way of saying that I’m voluptuous. At this point, as I apprise myself in my unforgiving bathroom mirror, hideously backlit by the summer morning sun streaming through the window behind me, I’d say that curvy is a euphemism. So I go back to my closet in search of something else to wear.

Saturday, 10:45 a.m.
I’ve settled on jeans and a roomy short-sleeved linen shirt in a deep chocolate brown. I love this shirt. What I love more than the shirt itself is the size: one. That’s right, I am wearing a size one. Not the kind of size one you’d wear if you were Nicole Richie, mind
I’m meeting him in half an hour and am having a sudden confidence crisis.
you, but the ego-boosting size one, the brainchild of a chain of stores targeted toward women of a certain age. If Maude (as in “And then there’s Maude”—the old TV show) had her own chain of clothing stores, this would be it. Everything is flowing and colorful and designed for comfort. And, more importantly, nothing is larger than a size three, which isn’t really a traditional size three, of course, but what a concept! None of the dressing rooms have mirrors which means you have to venture into the common space to see how you look. That’s another brilliant strategy. Why? Because outside the dressing room you will find a) flattering mirrors and b) flattering saleswomen, who all behave like your best friend and always pick the perfect belt or necklace to pull the whole outfit together.

So I’m feeling more presentable now, in my jeans and roomy linen shirt. My floral skirt and sleeveless top are rolled into a ball at the back of my closet—my traditional sign of contempt for clothes that make me look fat. I grab my cell phone and remind the kids to call if they need me.

Saturday, 11:03 a.m.
It doesn’t take long to figure out which of the three men in Starbucks is Leo. He’s the one smiling and enthusiastically waving at me. He’s sitting in a nook near a display of brightly colored travel mugs. He doesn’t stand as I approach the table, which seems a bit rude but then I remind myself that the rules of etiquette have changed since the last time I was single.


“Leo?” At this point I am pleased to note that he is just as cute in person as he is in his pictures. What a sweet, friendly face. His clothes are great too: a comfy-looking indigo cotton T-shirt and white shorts that show off his muscular calves. Very, very nice. And he smells nice. Fresh, like laundry. Already this date is turning out better than expected.

He is grinning at me.


“What what?” he responds, with a look that suggests he knows that I know that he knows… something. But what?

“Why are you grinning like that?” Interesting. I feel so comfortable with him, and I don’t even know him. I have a friend who would say it’s “past life stuff.” I don’t know if I believe that, but maybe that’s as good a theory as any. Fact is, I feel like I already know this guy. And like him.

“I’m grinning because you’re so cute!” he says. “I feel like I’ve hit the jackpot.”

“Is that right?” I say, smiling, feeling my cheeks flush. “Hmm.”

So we sit there, grinning at each other like a couple of idiots, and then he asks about my job. I
So we sit there, grinning at each other like a couple of idiots…
tell him I love it, skipping over the fact that I do, in fact, miss my old life when I didn’t have to worry about a paycheck or a boss or deadlines or psychotic coworkers. I don’t tell him that I worry about my retirement, that I envy those girlfriends who are still safely married and financially secure. I don’t tell him how panicky I feel when there are four days left to the month and I have eighty-five dollars in my checking account.

No. I don’t tell Leo any of these things. I tell him that I love my job.

Saturday, 12:20 p.m.
I think I now know why Leo didn’t stand to greet me. Though he described himself as 5’6”, he can’t be more than 5’2” tall. In other words, he is shorter than me. I immediately decide that this is not going to be an issue. If I can date a Gigantor, I can certainly date a short guy.

Saturday, 3:50 p.m.
My daughter calls me on my cell phone to make sure I’m still alive. I understand her concern. It’s been over five hours since I left the house, and I am still here with Leo. Our Starbucks date quite naturally evolved into a stroll downtown, where we window-shopped, ate burritos at the hippie health-food restaurant, then walked through my favorite part of campus, down a red brick path in the middle of the woods.

It seems like we’ve talked about everything in the world, from global warming (we both think it’s scary) to Birkenstock sandals (we both think they’re ugly). I wish he weren’t going to that conference in London for two weeks. I want to reach for his hand but stop myself. No need to rush this. I’m having so much fun just walking and talking. There will always be time for touching.

Saturday, 4:40 p.m.
I’m home, I’m happy, I’m tired, I can’t wait to hear from Leo again.

Saturday, 4:42 p.m.
The phone rings. Could it be Leo? No, actually it’s Craig. His tone is serious. He says he needs to talk to me.

Now what?

Sara Susannah Katz is a writer in the Midwest.

Read Single In The Suburbs, Part 15

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