Single In The Suburbs, Installment 38

Our columnist is changing jobs… and is wondering whether maybe her relationship with Kevin will be changing, too.

By Sara Susannah Katz

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

n our last installment, our writer accepted a new job (hooray, no more Brenda McAleer!) and had a serious talk with Kevin about the other woman in his life. Now, it’s time to see if Kevin is true to his word…

Thursday, 10 a.m.
I have just informed my boss that I’m quitting. I was worried that she’d be angry with me — that’s the insecure little kid inside me — but now I realize that she’s not angry, she’s determined to make me change my mind. She leans forward and looks at me with her earnest blue eyes. “Obviously we’ll match whatever salary they’re offering,” she says. “Just tell me what else I need to do to keep you here.”

“I don’t suppose you could fire Brenda McAleer?” Oh God. Did I
I’ve just done it—I’ve quit.
actually say that out loud?

To my great satisfaction, my boss smiles wistfully and admits that she has always wanted to fire Brenda. Unfortunately, this woman is one of our department’s “untouchables,” hired as a favor to her father, a VIP who retired a million years ago but still manages to have an influence on our organization. I’d heard rumors about Brenda and her powerful daddy, but didn’t believe them until now.

I agree to stay for another two weeks, about all I can bear.

Thursday, 3 p.m.
Now that I've announced I’m resigning, Brenda is as sweet as a pink packet of saccharine. She says she wants to give me a going-away party. I tell her that won’t be necessary.

Thursday, 4:20 p.m.
Bernie down the hall stops by to say he heard I was leaving. “Like rats jumping off a sinking ship,” he says, smiling. I take this as a supportive comment and smile back. I’m feeling better already. I think I’ll start packing up my stuff.

Thursday, 5:50 p.m.
I’m just heading out of the office when my email dings. It’s a message from Kevin. He wants to take me out to dinner — get this — to celebrate my new job. I guess he really heard me when I said I was concerned about his reaction to my news. My friend Sherry would say this is a sign that Kevin is “trainable.” I write back, “Thanks… but I’ve got my daughter with me tonight. We’re going to watch a DVD. Maybe tomorrow night?”

My cell phone rings. It’s Kevin. “How about if I bring the popcorn?”

It’s a sweet offer but I’m not quite ready to introduce him to my kids. I promised myself a long time ago that I wouldn’t subject them to a parade of men. Not that one guy constitutes
He says, “Wish me luck” when he breaks up with Ms. Seattle—why does he need luck??
a parade. But I’m somewhat sensitive about this particular issue. My mother, widowed at the tender age of 35, dated like crazy for a year, and I pinned my hopes to every new guy she brought home. I even walked in on her making out on the living room sofa, and it still makes me queasy to think about it, 30 years later.

“Let me take a rain check, OK? I think my kid could use a little Mommy time tonight.”

Kevin says he understands. When I ask him if we can have dinner tomorrow night instead, he pauses and then tells me that his girlfriend is flying in from Seattle tomorrow night. “Wish me luck,” he says.

“Why?” I feel my neck tightening.

“Because I’m going to break up with her. I’m expecting major drama, Sara. This isn’t going to be easy. She’s going to push hard to keep me.”

I don’t know what to say. Should I tell him to hold his ground? Forbid him from having break-up sex? Offer to accompany him? “I guess you’d better hide your toothbrush,” I finally say.

He chuckles. “Good one.”

I’ve never met Ms. Seattle and have heretofore restrained myself from asking for a description, but I picture her being attractive in all the ways I am not; tall, slender, flowing blond hair. And young. For all I know she may look like Rosie O’Donnell, but I doubt it. Kevin once said he was a connoisseur of good-looking women. I suppose he was trying to flatter me at the time, but all he did was make me nervous. Good looks don’t last forever, and I have no plans to buy myself a facelift. Would a man like Kevin be in it for the long haul?

I decide not to worry about it. I tell myself that it’s Kevin who should be worried whether I’m in it for the long haul. I will myself to adopt a new mantra: He’s lucky to have me. Why not? I’m cute, smart, gainfully employed, mentally stable (at least today), and I’ve got all my teeth. Based on some of the dating horror stories I’ve heard, I’m a genuine catch. Right?

Sara Susannah Katz is a writer in the Midwest.

Read Single In The Suburbs, Part 39

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