Single In The Suburbs, Installment 13

Leo, the new online suitor, wants to meet—ASAP. Our writer wonders if, by doing so, her luck will take a turn for the better. Find out what happens right here.

By Sara Susannah Katz

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

ur writer has been somewhat tentative about Leo&mmdash;the very eager man who’s been pursuing her online. But he convinced her to share her phone number… and now, seconds later, her phone is ringing.

Friday, 8:49 p.m.
“Hello, cutie pie!”

The voice on the other end of the line is chipper and light. It is also soft and a little on the high side. I try not to draw any conclusions.

At this point I would like to say two words about a person’s voice: It matters. At least it matters to me. You can IM or email ’til the cows come home but a real live phone conversation ratchets up the communication to another level. It’s not as intimate as a face-to-face conversation, of course, but after days or even weeks of electronic exchanges, there’s something almost disorienting about hearing someone’s voice. Speech
“I know I must sound pushy, but I can’t help it.”
patterns, regional dialects, hesitations, nervous giggles, stutters—all of these reveal something that emails usually don’t. A person’s voice can be comfortingly familiar, can convey warmth and good humor. I like that. What I don’t like, though, is someone who sounds seriously uneducated. Poor grammar—it’s a turnoff.

So I am relieved when Leo doesn’t sound like a hick. Especially considering the higher-than-average probability of connecting with a hick given my geographic location. (Save the hate mail. I know it sounds elitist. It also happens to be true.)

But the pitch of Leo’s voice was a little troubling. It wasn’t high like a girl’s, just… I don’t know. Maybe I’m being neurotic. Or too picky. I decide to ignore it. For now.

“Hey. Leo? How are you?” I say.

“Great! Wow. You sound as cute as you look.”

“I do?” I never thought I sounded particularly cute. I like to think my voice is rather sultry, but that’s probably just wishful thinking. “Thanks.” I guess. I’m not even sure that cute is a compliment, unless you’re a Yorkshire Terrier.

Leo and I talk for a few minutes. He sounds so… happy. I find this weird. Why is he so happy to talk to me? I wonder if I’m the first woman who gave him her phone number. On the plus side, he also sounds smart and truly nice, if a little goofy. He laughs at his own corny jokes. He is also eager to please me. He promises to take me to the “fine dining establishment” of my choice. When I mention a fondness for Hitchcock, he says he has a great collection on DVD and offers to lend them to me. “Or better yet, we could watch them together.” In fact, he says, eagerly, “we could even have our own little Hitchcock film festival. A new movie every weekend!”

Slow down, cowboy, I’m thinking. You’re moving way too fast. I’m no expert in dating etiquette but doesn’t everybody know the virtue of showing a little self-restraint?

“I know I must sound pushy but I can’t help it, Sara. From the minute I read your email I felt like I already knew you. I’m sorry. I know it must sound crazy.”

Here is what Leo has in his favor, and this is why there are benefits to living in a small town: We use the same vet. We hang out at the same Borders. We go to the same dentist. And my friend’s husband taught in his department. In other words, he probably isn’t a
“I offer up a prayer: Please let this date go well.”
serial killer. He has roots in the community just as I did. So, in a way, we do already know each other. Sort of.

We agree to meet at Starbucks tomorrow, 11 a.m. I figure that will give me enough time to make a real breakfast, waffles or French toast or maybe chocolate-chip pancakes. My kids have been eating cereal out of the box, and I’m having a major case of mother guilt. But since Craig moved out, I haven’t felt motivated to cook. I’ve even been tempted to get rid of all my expensive cookware and gadgets in a yard sale. They belong to another life, not mine. Even if I remarried, I can’t imagine reconstituting my role as house frau (though Craig will tell you I was never a real house frau, much to his disappointment).

I guess I’m looking forward to Leo. He seems like a nice guy and I deserve a little nice in my life.

Saturday, 11:03 a.m.
I get to Starbucks and scan the room, looking for the face that matches the photos. I find him in the corner, smiling beatifically at me. After Bald Harley Dude, Just Friends, and Sleep Apnea Man, I feel compelled to send up a little prayer: Please let this go well. Deep breath. Here I go!

Sara Susannah Katz is a writer in the Midwest.

Read Single In The Suburbs, Part 14

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