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Single In The Suburbs, Installment 37


Our columnist knows it’s time to confront her new beau about the other woman in his life, but will she have the courage?

By Sara Susannah Katz

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

n our last installment, our writer had decided to accept the new job offer… but she also realized it was time to have a serious talk with Kevin, the man she’s been seeing. Find out what happens when the two of them meet up.


Wednesday, 5:30 p.m.
I decide to stop at home to feed my dogs. As I approach the house, I see a bright blue slip of paper taped to the storm door. I figure it’s one of those notices from the local utility companies about turning off the water/gas/electricity while they repair some pipe or cable.

I pull the paper off the door and read it. What the hell is this? A $60 fine? I scan the note.
I realize Kevin hasn’t told her about me…
Oh great. Apparently my dog Valjean got loose and terrorized the neighbors next door. They called the dog catchers who captured Val and tied him up outside (I check the backyard and sure enough, he’s chained to the fence).

The note goes on to say that my neighbor — a woman I once counted among my best friends — has filed an affidavit in her complaint against my dog which means (a) I have to confront her in a hearing, (b) my dog may be declared “potentially dangerous” and (c) I may need to replace my current picket fence with a more appropriate method of confinement. In other words, I may have to spend $2,000 on a new fence just because my neurotic neighbor hates dogs.

I do not need this kind of drama in my life.

Wednesday, 6 p.m.
I have fed the dog and now I’m calling Kevin to invite him to dinner. Time to talk.

Wednesday 6:45 p.m.
I’m sitting across from Kevin at a small table in a dimly lit corner of Morel, one of the higher priced restaurants in town, named for the equally high-priced mushroom that looks a lot like a penis. No double-entendre intended, but I have never had any luck finding these $40-a-pound morels, despite the fact that they are rumored to grow around the creek that runs behind all the houses on the southern side of our subdivision. My neighbor Julia, on the other hand, once found and filled five shopping bags of those phallic fungi without even trying. Maybe I’m just cursed.

Kevin has refilled his wineglass of pinot noir, but I cover mine with my hands. I want to be clear-eyed for this conversation. Kevin, on the other hand, is showing the early signs of intoxication: He looks a bit like a jack-o-lantern, lit from the inside, relentlessly smiling, eyes glowing.

He bites his lower lip and gives me a look.

“What?”

“You are so sexy, Sara. The gods have been very good to me.”

“How do you figure?”

He leans forward and whispers. “Look around. You’re the hottest woman in the room. And you’re sitting with me. Me.”

I fight the urge to look around the restaurant and prove him wrong, but I decide to let him have his illusions. I read in a women’s magazine once that if a guy tells you that you’re hot, the worst thing you can do is argue with him because eventually, if you keep debating the issue, he will come to agree with you. If Kevin thinks I’m the hottest woman in the room, it
“I’m getting out of this thing,” Kevin says, “but I have to do it my way.”
would be easy — and stupid — for me to prove him wrong.

I know that Kevin is hoping to steer me toward his bed tonight, but I’d be doing myself a disservice if I didn’t raise the two issues I’d hoped to discuss with him—his girlfriend in Seattle and his attitude toward my new job.

Wednesday, 7:10 p.m.
Kevin has just told me that his relationship is “for all intensive purposes, completely dead.”

“Intents and purposes.” I can’t help myself. I’m a writer. I am compelled by my allegiance to the English language to correct egregious errors.

“That’s what I said.”

It’s not worth it to me to insist, but I make a mental note: Can’t admit it when he’s wrong.

“The point is, the relationship is dead. You have nothing to worry about. My guess is, she’ll make one more trip out here in the next couple of months to pack up her things and that’s that.”

As Kevin talks, I realize that he hasn’t told her about me. He hasn’t said he’s unhappy. They haven’t had any kind of significant conversation about their relationship. Why not? Because he doesn’t want to hurt her. She can be vindictive. He says that the last time someone broke up with her, she dipped his toothbrush in the toilet and neatly replaced it on the sink.

“She sounds crazy.”

“That’s what I’m saying. I’m getting out of this thing, but I have to do it my way. It needs to be her idea, not mine.”

I think I understand what he means. If she’s some kind of lunatic, it makes sense that he’d want to be strategic now.

OK. One down, one to go. I finish off my wine and take a deep breath, then tell him that I was confused by his reaction to the news that I’d be working for Bud Jackson.

“Instead of being happy for me, you seemed almost resentful.”

“Aw, baby, I was just teasing you,” he says, rolling a lightly roasted cherry tomato around his plate. “Of course I’m happy for you.”

“Really?”

“Absolutely. New job, new man… life’s good, right?”

I nod my head in agreement, but on the way home from Kevin’s apartment that night, I can’t seem to shake the feeling that something is terribly wrong.


Sara Susannah Katz is a writer in the Midwest.

Read Single In The Suburbs, Part 38


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