Single In The Suburbs, Installment 22

In this installment, find out why our columnist’s past “disaster date” —Sleep Apnea Man—is emailing her again.

By Sara Susannah Katz

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

n our columnist’s last installment, she said a somewhat sad goodbye to Leo, her post-divorce mathematician beau…and she found an email waiting from her from the doctor she had briefly dated. Why is writing to her now? What does he have to say? Find out here.

Wednesday, 10:35 p.m.
On second thought, I decide not to open the email from Sleep Apnea man, at least not right away. I’m the kind of person who enjoys being in suspense and savoring a good surprise. I would also enjoy mulling all the possibilities in my head before discovering the single reason for his email.

Maybe he’s writing to apologize for his sexual dysfunction (which didn’t bother me;
“This would be perfect if I could share this moment with a man.”
actually, I found it a relief). Maybe he’s writing to apologize for being so bossy (which did bother me). Or maybe he wants to tell me that he has been consumed with thoughts of me since the day I left and can’t possibly live another moment without me. (Oh, sure.)

I go outside to collect the newspaper from the driveway and run into Steph, my neighbor across the street. Steph’s been divorced for five years; her ex-husband lives up the street. They hate each other but they share custody of four kids. I guess they don’t have to communicate much over logistics since the kids are within walking distance of either house. Steph told me once that she dated only now and then because she’s so busy with work and the kids. I used to marvel at how relaxed and happy she seemed even though she’s not dating or, more to the point, particularly bent on remarrying.

Thursday, 8:30 p.m.
I am sitting on my big, comfy red couch in the family room. There’s a crackling, colorful fire in the fireplace (I bought those logs that burn in different colors; God knows what they’re made of but at least they’re pretty). The kids are off doing their own thing, the dog is curled at my feet and there’s a Law & Order marathon on TV.

Three months ago I would have thought, “This would be perfect if I could share this moment with a man.” I have an epiphany: This moment is perfect. Period.


Thursday, 10:30 p.m.
I throw a glass of water to extinguish the last few embers of my fake log. Now I am ready to check Sleep Apnea man’s email. “Sara, I want us to try again. I know things ended awkwardly, but I really believe in my heart that we could be good together. I have the resources to make you a very happy woman. Please let me share them with you. I am also a very affectionate and loving person. I don’t want to be single anymore, and I think you feel the same way. Can’t we try again?”

Resources? I’m assuming he means money. I find this idea oddly appealing. He was smart and had nice eyes (though with him being 6’7” I can’t say we made a lot of eye contact. In fact, I spent many of our conversations gazing at his rather large gut.) And yes, he seemed controlling, but maybe he was just trying to take care of me and that’s a good thing, isn’t it?

I’m not ready to write back.

Friday, 9:25 a.m.
Brenda scuttles into my office and shuts the door behind her. She is dressed in her preppy best, with her coiffed blond hair and clickety-clack high heels and a big, phony smile. She sits herself down in the chair beside my desk and leans in conspiratorially. “You’d better watch
I don’t need this kind of drama so early in the day.
your back,” she says, gravely. “I hear that Steve is gunning for you.”

“Why is Steve gunning for me?” I feel my stomach churn. I don’t need this kind of drama so early in the day.

Brenda’s wrinkles her pale brow. “He’s pissed that you didn’t get the annual report in on time.”

Steve is one of the directors here, and though I don’t report to him, he is widely acknowledged as master puppeteer, pulling everyone’s strings including my boss’s.

It so happens that Steve and I had already discussed the annual report; he had assured me that the revised production schedule was fine. In fact, I distinctly recall him saying, “Nobody reads the damn thing anyway. I don’t care if it’s a week late or a month late.”

At this point I should mention that Brenda has been messing with my head since the day I joined the staff. I didn’t realize it until I caught the old movie Gaslight while I was flipping channels one night—it’s about a man who drives his wife crazy by making her doubt her own judgment—and suddenly it hit me: Brenda is gaslighting me. I’m not sure why, but I suspect it’s because she is floundering at her own job; she was hired to raise a $10 million endowment and in three years has managed to scrape together a pathetic $315,000.

I am scrambling to edit the annual report when one of the women in accounts payable saunters into my office. “I have to tell you something,” she says.

I hold my hand up. “If this is about someone gunning for me, save it. I’m not in the mood.”

“Actually,” she says, “it’s about someone crushing on you.”

“What? Who? Are you kidding?” It’s seventh grade all over again.

“It’s Mark. He thinks you’re cute. He’s been asking about you. He wants to know if you’re dating.”

Oh, no. That explains why Mark is always finding reasons to consult with me, even though we are in entirely different departments and have no logical reason to talk. Ever. Mark’s a nice guy, but he’s old enough to be my father. And he’s a blabbermouth. And I don’t find him particularly attractive.

“You can tell him I’m involved with someone,” I say.

“Are you?”

“Sort of.” I firmly believe that white lies are OK when employed to spare someone’s feelings.

This stuff about Steve has me worried. This morning I woke up with a line from a song running through my head. From A Chorus Line: “Oh God, I need this job.”

I know that millions of people depend on their jobs but I was never one of them, not since I married a highly-paid man who promised me that I would never want for anything. But things are different now. I know Steve told me that there was no rush on the annual report, and I know that Brenda is a big liar but I am terrified by the prospect of losing my job. I have no savings. I rely utterly on my paycheck and Craig’s monthly maintenance.

I click open Sleep Apnea man’s email. It’s time to write back.

Sara Susannah Katz is a writer in the Midwest.

Read Single In The Suburbs, Part 23

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