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Single In The Suburbs, Installment 23


In this installment, our columnist—a Midwestern single mom—suddenly finds an array of potential suitors… what should she do?

By Sara Susannah Katz

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

hen we last checked in with our columnist, she’d been contacted by Sleep Apnea Man — the disastrous date from a few months ago — and he was asking for a second chance. Here, our writer decides how to answer that request… and learns that her popularity may be rising elsewhere,

Friday, 9:30 a.m.
I once read that despite the stereotype, it is men, not women, who are the true romantics. Men are the ones most apt to believe in love at first sight and most likely to impulsively pop the question and dream of happily-ever-after. Women, on the other hand, tend to coolly calculate risks versus benefits. Will he be in it for the long haul? Will he be a good father? Will he be a good provider?

So I blame it on my hardwiring when I decide to give Sleep Apnea man another chance. It’s not
“I have the sense this guy’s a control freak who’ll steamroll right over me.”
because he’s wildly attractive or charming or has an irresistible smile. It’s because he likes me, he’s not repulsive, he has money, and Brenda is trying to get me fired and my bag-lady nightmares have gotten worse in the last three months. Oh my God. Did I just admit that I’m a gold-digger?

Friday, 10:10 a.m.
I start typing:

Nice to hear from you! [Gratuitous use of exclamation mark.] I was actually wondering how you were doing. [A lie.] And I’ve been thinking it might be nice to try again. [Another lie.]

If I were honest, my response would be more like:

I’m so glad you wrote back. I have exactly $110.40 in my checking account, my daughter has been begging me to get tickets for the Ben Folds concert, one of my co-workers is systematically driving me crazy, and I’m terrified of getting fired. Therefore, I’ve decided to take my Aunt Jane’s advice — “It’s as easy to marry a rich man as a poor one” — and see if I can’t figure out a way to fall in love with you. I’m not optimistic because I think you’re bossy, your house is pathologically messy, your sleep-apnea machine is the most unappealing contraption I’ve ever seen and, frankly, I’m afraid that if we sleep together my lungs might collapse under your weight. See you soon, Sara.

I immediately delete the message, then exit Outlook altogether on the off chance that it will be somehow embedded in anything I send him. I reopen the program, click open a new email message and begin again:

Sure, I’d be willing to try again. How about next Saturday night? There’s an antique fair at the Convention Center. Or we could see The Crucible at the university playhouse. Whatever you’d like is fine with me. Sara.

I click send and let out my breath. Done.

Friday, 1:20 p.m.
Carrie, the web manager, pops her head in. “A
“Mom, don’t tell me you want to date my teacher!”
little birdie told me you have an admirer,” she says.

“If you’re talking about Mark, your little birdie is about four hours too late. I already heard.”

Carrie steps in and shuts the door behind her. “So? What do you think?”

What I think is that if I would be suicidal if I had to spend an evening, let alone a lifetime, with that talkaholic. He’s so bad, in fact, that a handful of staffers made a pact: If one of us spotted another trapped in conversation with Mark, it was our moral obligation to figure out a way to free the hostage, either by calling her cell phone or gesturing toward the clock and reminding her about some fictitious meeting.

I tell Carrie the same thing I told Debbie in accounts payable. I’ve got my eye on someone already.

Friday, 1:40 p.m.
A soft ding and there it is: an email from Sam (that’s Sleep Apnea Man).

Thank you for writing back, Sara. I’m glad to hear you’re willing to give this another go. I went online and noticed that the antique fair runs all day and The Crucible starts at 8, which gives us time to do both. I’ve gone ahead and bought the tickets. I also reserved a table at La Paloma for 6 p.m. See you at about noon at the Convention Center?

Jeez. I try to remind myself that there was a time when Sam’s behavior would be considered gallant and I should be grateful that I found someone who’s willing to plan a fun day and foot the bill. But I can’t get over the gnawing sense that this guy’s a control freak who will steamroll right over me, given half a chance.

I write back: Perfect. See you then.

Based on experience, I won’t hear from Sam again until I actually see him in a week. Unlike the effusive lecherous professor Leo, Sam doesn’t seem to care for emailing, IM-ing or talking by phone.

Friday, 5:01 p.m.
I am clearing my desk, shutting down my computer for the weekend, and fantasizing about the hot bath I will take tonight. It’s been an exhausting week and I am eager to get home.

Now I hear Brenda in art director’s office. She is whispering and occasionally busting out in giggles, then dropping her voice to a whisper again. I quietly close my door and plaster my ear against the wall, expecting to hear my name and, possibly, some clues about my future employment. But all I hear is the drone of the electrical system behind the drywall and the erratic thrumming of my own heart.

If Brenda McAleer is make me paranoid, she is clearly succeeding.

Friday 5:35 p.m.
I’m parked outside my daughter’s school, waiting for her to finish rehearsals. Her advanced acting class is performing Taming of the Shrew, and she has managed to snag one of the leads.

There was a time when I spent so much time driving my kids here and there that we named my van the Mommymobile. Now that I’m working in the “real” world, I don’t often have the chance to drive her around. I never thought I’d be nostalgic for my chauffeur days but I am.

Friday 5:50 p.m.
Now the kids are streaming out of the building along with their teacher, Mr. Kidman (a.k.a. “the hottie,” according to my daughter). Unless I’m imagining it, Mr. Kidman is staring directly at me. I look away, then look back. Yep. He’s staring at me. I don’t know whether to wave or smile so, dork that I am, I do both. He smiles back.

“Who are you waving at?” my daughter is asking. She follows my gaze and then looks back at me. “Not Mr. Kidman. Are you serious?”

“Is he married?”

“Oh. Please. Don’t tell me you want to date my teacher. Why don’t you just shoot me now and put me out of my misery!”

“Well? Is he?”

“No. He’s not.” She pops on her headphones and plugs in her iPod. Our conversation is over.

My interest in Mr. Kidman, however, has just begun.


Sara Susannah Katz is a writer in the Midwest.

Read Single In The Suburbs, Part 24


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