Wednesday, April 27, 2005

March (cont'd)

I left him a note with my number, and he called me that night. We spent some time catching up, and decided to meet for drinks on Friday.

Friday was a cold, wet, miserable almost-spring day. Neither of us felt much like going out, so we decided to just hang out at my apartment. There was a great pizza place nearby, and Matt stopped to buy some wine on the way over.

The first thing Matt noticed when he looked around my apartment was my collection of Alias DVDs.

He picked up season 1. "I can't believe you have this," he said.

"Oh, you're a fan?"

"Am I a fan?" he asked, incredulous. "I'm only the biggest fan ever."

"Excellent," I grinned. "Did you watch it last week?"

We spent the next 40 minutes dissecting plot arcs and character developments. He had a mad crush on Sydney, and I on Vaughn. When the pizza arrived, we could hardly believe the time had passed so quickly.

We ate, drank, watched the pilot episode with commentary, and kept watching until after midnight.

I walked him to the door, stood on my tiptoes to hug him, and said goodnight.

"You'll have to call me on Sunday after Alias," I said.

"You bet." He smiled, and walked out the door.

I locked the door behind him, and stood there for a few minutes, bewildered. What had just happened?

Was it a date?

Did I want it to be a date?

Turned out I was right back where I had been three years before.

Monday, November 29, 2004


“So are you really swearing off men?”

Uh oh.

My friend Carolyn looked at me with wide, eager eyes. I knew what was coming next. I had been telling her of my decision to take a break from dating for a while. I had become overwhelmed. I’d been in the online dating world with little success for four months, with little to no success. I had been meeting a steady stream of men, but not really connecting witgh any of them. I felt like I needed to back off, take a break.

“Because if you’re serious, I’ll back off, but if you’re not…I might know someone.”


Whenever you’re single, there’s inevitably someone who wants to fix you up. Someone who knows someone who would be just perfect for you.

But still…there was something inviting and hopeful about Carolyn’s tone.

“He’s my sister-in-law’s brother. I actually went out with him once before I started seeing Nathan, but it just got to be strange when his sister and my brother started getting serious. But he’s a great guy. He’s cute, and funny, and a lot of fun. He’s one of us.”

She sent me a message with his email address and a photo, and within a few days, I was exchanging emails with him. Jason.

We decided to meet for drinks at one of our mutual favorite haunts. I entered the bar and scanned the stools for him. When he saw me, he stood up and waved.

“Kate?” He smiled.

He didn’t look like my type at all. Light haired, slightly scruffy beard. I usually liked my men clean shaven.

But his smile…there was something about his smile that grabbed me. I took his hand and sat down next to him. He ordered me a drink, and soon we were chatting away. We started off with the obvious common ground; Carolyn.

We talked, and laughed, telling each other silly college stories. He was animated and energetic, and a whole lot of fun to talk to. Every now and then, he’d lean toward me and touch me briefly while he talked; his hand on my knee, on my arm.

I glanced at my watch and saw that it was nearly 11. I hated to leave, but I had an early morning ahead. I’d been called to substitute teach, so I’d have to be up by six.

Jason walked me to my car, said goodnight, and gave me a hug.

“I’m leaving on a trip for work next week, so I probably won’t get to see you again before then. Is it okay if the second date waits until I come back?”

“As long as there’s going to be a second date, I guess I can handle that,” I said.

“Oh, there’s definitely going to be a second date. Don’t even worry about that.”

He kissed my cheek and I got in my car and watched him walk away.


On my way in to school, I realized what it was that was so familiar about (Name of) School District.

It was the district where Matt worked.

At least it was the last time I’d talked to him.

Matt and I had met during our freshman year of college. We lived in the same dorm and became fast friends one day, watching Days of Our Lives in the lounge.

Here was this massive, hulking football player with a buzz cut weeping at the sight of John holding his dying wife in his arms. I knew we had to be friends.

We would color together to blow off steam. We watched Beauty and the Beast. He offered me his shoulder to cry on when I broke off my relationship with Jeff, the high school boyfriend.

When we returned from Christmas break, I asked Matt to accompany me to my sorority formal. He said no.

“I wouldn’t be much fun at something like that,” he said.

I was crushed.

We were still friends, but it wasn’t like it had been first semester. Over the summer, we lost touch. After sophomore year, he transferred, and I didn’t talk to him again.

Not until I moved to Buffalo. I received our alumni magazine that winter and flipped to the Classnotes section like I always do. Matt had sent in his contact information with an email address, and I thought it would be fun to get in touch.

We exchanged a few emails, talked on the phone a couple of times, and decided to get together and catch up. I felt like we were treading this strange line between friendship and dating, but wasn’t quite sure what to make of it.

One night, Matt said he wanted to cook me dinner. I went to his apartment and he fed me a ginormous margarita along with dinner. We sat on the couch watching TV, and he kissed me.

My head was spinning as I left. Did that just happen? What was going on? What did he want? What did I want?

A few days later, he called to tell me he had tickets to a hockey game and invited me to come along. He had to cancel at the last minute when his mom got sick. He emailed me about two weeks later to ask about getting together, but by that time I had begun to fall hopelessly for Alex.

Unfortunately, I already have plans Wednesday. I typed in response. How about a rain check?

He didn’t respond.

It was probably another year before I contacted him again, wanting to talk about my decision to go into teaching. He was everything I needed him to be at that moment…kind, encouraging, friendly. Ah, maybe there was hope for a friendship after all. We talked frequently while Alex was studying for the bar exam, but never quite seemed to connect for that happy hour we kept talking about.

So there I was, walking into the school. Matt’s school.

I didn’t have a homeroom, and my first period was free, so I wandered down the hall to find his classroom. His door was open, and he was sitting at his desk correcting papers. A couple of eight grade girls were sitting at a table, cutting things out of construction paper.

“Knock knock,” I said, tapping at his door.

He looked up, registering a shocked expression.

“Kate. Oh my God.”

“I’m subbing here today,” I shrugged. “I wanted to say hi.”

“Of course. Come in. Sit down. How have you been?”

I pulled a chair up next to his desk and sat. “Okay, I guess. Obviously, I finished school.”

He nodded. “Where’d you do your student teaching?”

“Seventh and eight grade at School 27 in the city, and high school at St. Francis.”

We talked shop for a few minutes, and he told me which seventh graders to watch out for.

“Definitely give me your number before you leave today,” he said. “We’ll go out for a drink sometime and catch up.”

“Absolutely,” I said.

Thursday, November 25, 2004


I sat across the table from Emily at the Barnes & Noble café. I had picked up the latest issue of Glamour, and the headlines screamed at me, as if to tell me what a miserable failure I was at life.

Having a baby AND a life
Midlife crisis at 30?
You CAN buy a house!

“Shut. Up.” I threw the magazine across the table.

“Everything okay?”

“Yeah. Great.”

Emily looked at the cover of the magazine. “You take this stuff too seriously,” she said. “So what if we’re not married, or financially stable, or reproducing? It’s not like it’s law or something.”

“I know.” I covered my face with my hands, then decided to drown my almost-30 sorrows in a piece of Vanilla Bean cheesecake.

Cheesecake makes everything better.

“I think I’m officially going into hiding until after Valentine’s Day,” I said. “No dates. I can’t take any more. I’m overwhelmed.”

“That’s fair,” Emily said, stealing a bite of my cheesecake. “You don’t have to be dating.”

“Yeah,” I agreed. “But what if the perfect man for me is out there? And if I don’t grab him…”

“Someone else will,” she chimed in.

“And you’ll have to spend the rest of your life knowing that someone else is married to your husband,” We finished together, giggling.

“I think we’ve seen that movie too many times,” I said.

I’d had a strange dream about Alex the night before. We were at a bar, a big club, with LOTS of different rooms, with a big group of people. I was walking by myself the bathroom? Doesn't matter. But as I was walking, I saw Alex on a pay phone. I tried to keep walking and ignore him, but he saw me and yelled out my name. I stopped, and got extremely agitated as he tried to make small talk. "how are you, how have you been..."

I asked him what he was doing there. He didn’t answer.

One of the really weird things about the dream was that there was some kind of weird parallel in my mind with Jason, my high school boyfriend. Either it was Jason’s face although I clearly knew it was Alex, or it was Alex speaking with Jason’s voice. Either way, it was completely freaky and weird. I remember asking him what he was doing, as in with his life, but I don't remember what the answer was.

Then I returned to where my friends were. Someone told me that Heather, the girl that Alex slept with, was there. Someone decided that I needed to talk to her, confront her, and dragged me away. The girl in my dream was young, thin, and disgustingly cute. I remember asking her things like "Why did you do this?" and "Are you in love with him?" She didn’t answer me

When I returned to where my friends were sitting, I noticed a table of guys I knew from my hometown. Guys who were friends with Jason. I said hello, and one of them was showing a LOT of interest in me.

“Then I woke up,” I said. “What do you think it means?”

Emily stared at me. “I haven’t the first idea.”

“Do I equate Alex with Jason?”

Every time I suffered a heartbreak, it seemed, I heard Jason’s voice in my head asking me if I believed anyone else would ever want me.

"Go get a dream book," Em suggested.

"Why? It'll just tell me something ridiculous, (fill in example of what the something ridiculous could be)."

She shrugged. "So what are we going to do on Valentine's Day?"

"I don't know. 'Get wasted on cheap wine' comes to mind."

"I have no problem with that," Emily grinned."


When the big day actually came around, I headed over to Em's place. Em lives in a section of Buffalo known as Allentown. It is an eclectic, funky, artsy neighborhood full of interesting shops, restaurants, and bars. It is also very open to, uh, "alternative lifestyles." Most of the time, neither of us gives this a second thought. But every once in a while, we have to wonder if people think that WE are, you know, together.

Last summer, we were at this outdoor music festival. Wanting a break from the sun and noise, headed across the street to a little martini bar called (Name of Bar) for a drink.

All right, it's true that (Name of Bar) IS a known gay bar. But still...

We were playing darts, and a woman probably about my mom's age started talking to us. She introduced herself as Jackie, and told us all about her divorce and current relationship status. She flitted back and forth between us and a male friend at the bar who looked an awful lot like Victor Garber. At the end of the game, she asked who won, and Em told her that I did.

"I know, you let her win, right?" Jackie asked.

"Damn right I did," Em said.

"Wanted to get some tonight, huh?"

Emily and I exchanged glances and giggled.

"No," I said, shaking my head. "We're not..."

"Really?" she asked, surprised.

"Really," Em assured her.

"You're not gay? Bi? Questioning?"

No, we said.

"You both like men?"

Indeed, we told her. Upon further conversation, we learned that she is involved in an organization called "Buffalo Gals."

So anyway. Valentine's Day. The holiday that makes singles everywhere want to slash their wrists in the bathtub.

We spent the night watching romantic movies on DVD and drinking wine. Again, not thinking much of this until we're over at the DVD Dot renting movies together. On Valentines Day. And one of the clerks (who just so happens to have a rainbow bead necklace on) starts asking Jen about her apartment building. Then on to the liquor store to buy some more wine...Em asks the clerk about the scent in the store, which as it turns out, is vanilla incense made locally. She includes a few sticks of incense in our bag.

"I never think of us as anything but what we are," Em said as we left the store. "Except when we're in Allentown. Do you think..."

And she didn't have to finish, because I knew exactly what she was thinking.

“God,” I said. “Our lives would be so much easier if we were lesbians. We already act like a couple.”

“Don’t I know it,” Emily said. I put my arm around her and we walked back to her apartment to enjoy our “romantic” evening.


The next morning, I woke up to Em’s gigantic cat sleeping on my chest. I scratched his head. “Ah, (Cat Name), if only you were human.”

My head felt like my brain had been sucked out and replaced with Styrofoam.

“No more cheap red wine,” I muttered. “Need water.”

I stumbled to the kitchen and poured myself a gallon or so. Emily heard me, and got up to join me.

“How are you?”

“Mmmmph,” I moaned.

“Yeah, me too.”

I noticed the fortune from the cookie I’d had last night sitting on the counter. I picked it up and showed it to Em.

“I’m never getting rid of this. This is the best fortune ever.”

It said, “Our first love and last love is…Self Love.”

She laughed. “Well, you survived. How does it feel.”

“Fucking fantastic. Except for the red wine headache. You have any ibuprofen?”

I made my way to Emily’s medicine cabinet and shook three pills out of the bottle. I returned to my spot on the couch and flopped down.

“Weren’t we going to go out last night.”

“Yeah,” Em said. “But that was before we both fell asleep.”

“Does that make us losers?” I wondered.

“Nah, just old.”

I sighed and looked at our pile of movies from t he previous night. All my movie boyfriends were writers or teachers.

“What do you suppose that means?” I wondered aloud.

“Um, that you’re not supposed to marry a lawyer?”

I laughed. “Good one. If we were still drinking, I’d toast to that.”


And just when I swore I’d never drink again, along came Mardi Gras.

I know, you’re wondering how much fun Mardi Gras in Buffalo can be. Well, it's no N'awlins, but there is plenty of craziness about, if you know where to look.

Emily send me an email in the middle of the afternoon. One of the toughest things about celebrating Mardi Gras, of course, is that it’s on a Tuesday. Which means work on Wednesday.

I was thinking we should see the parade and then maybe head back to my place for a while...too much time too much drinking not enough $$$ and I need to be semi coherent tomorrow...

I absolutely agreed with her. We mixed a drink at her place, then wandered down the street to watch the parade. Great fun. We made some noise and caght some beads, then ducked into (Name of Bar), for a quick one. Our old friend Jerry gave us some beads and, of course, a shot of red shit. We returned to Em’s for another drink and french bread pizza, and Emily calls her cousin Becky who, with her girlfriend Samantha, was going to meet us later.

One margarita and two hurricanes later, Emily, Becky, Samantha and I headed to (Bar) for the annual Mardi Gras drag show. Seeing men who look better in a dress than you do does wonders for the self-esteem.

It wasn’t quite time for the show yet, but we went up towards the stage, and started making friends. LOTS of friends.

One guy who was very cute came over and started talking to me. He introduced himself as Ryan. I smiled, and turned toward the stage and began dancing, swaying my hips to the music. Ryan rested a hand on my right hip, and I felt a slight tingle on my skin beneath my jeans.

I excused myself to go to the ladies room. When I came back, I grabbed Emily.

“Did you meet Ryan? Isn’t he adorable?”

Ryan was chatting away on a cell phone.

“Yeah. Adorable. He’s talking to his girlfriend right now.”

Ugh. Creep.

“You actually heard him say that?”

“Oh yeah. Right after he tried to kiss me.”

So much for Ryan. The band finished, and the drag queens took the stage. Emily tapped a man who was standing in front of us wearing a plush jester’s hat. The hat, while fun and festive, was blocking our view of the stage.

He became our friend instantly, offering Em his hat and then kindly bringing us each a drink and a shot of SoCo.

What was that we were saying earlier? About not getting too crazy and being coherent in the morning?

We moved closer to the stage where we met Brad. Brad was dressed normally, but for the leather bustier. Brad went on stage to flash his man-boobs for beads and a t-shirt, and he gave them to me. Yay!

We left the show and Emily called Becky. Becky and Sam were headed to (Lesbian Bar) for dancing and karaoke.
She hung up and called to leave a message for her on-and-off significant other.

“Hey baby. We’re leaving the drag show to go to the lesbian bar. Love ya!”

When we entered the bar, Becky and Sam were playing pool with a guy we've never seen before. They introduced him as Norm. (Norm!) I shot a round with them and made small talk with Norm. Just moments after we finished, the opening strains of (cheesy 80s song) beckon us to the dance floor. I set my t-shirt and beads down on a barstool and we ran, giggling. Norm followed.

I began dancing with him, not sure if he was actually cute or if I was really, really drunk.

Norm leaned in close to me, his lips nearly touching my ear, and whispered,"So, are you a lesbian or are you bi?"

"Me? I'm straight," I tell him.

He seemed surprised...and I'm not sure if this was because he was happy or disappointed.

Emily grabbed me away for a moment.

“That hot girl is totally hitting on me,” she whispered. “I’m kind of intrigued.”

Norm pulled me back to dance with him, and didn’t leave me alone again for the better part of five or six songs.

“You are the hottest girl in the bar,” he said. I offered him a shy smile. “I'm not kidding. No seriously." He leaned in then, for the unavoidable kiss. It was wet, drunk, sloppy. Even from behind the cloud of alcohol, I could tell I didn’t enjoy it.

Norm was pulled away by his friends, who were leaving. I gave him a good night kiss on the cheek and returned to the bar. Emily was having a drink with our Southern Comfort friends from the drag show. I went to find my t-shirt and beads, and realized they were gone.

“Somebody stole my fucking t-shirt,” I informed our friends. “That sucks.”

We sat and chatted a while, the guys trying to buy me a drink when it was abundantly clear that I needed another drink about as much as (someone) needed (something.)

Emily’s hot blonde got up and started dancing on the bar. (Bar Name) actually has a stripper-like pole in the center of the bar. I was sort of itching to get up there, but I decided to bide my time.

A few short minutes later, the DJ addressed us.

“Anyone who remembers when this song came out, get up and dance!”

The opening “Ohhh ohhh ohhh ohhh ohhh” of Hangin’ Tough proved to be too much for me to resist. I looked at Emily and shrugged. “You heard the man.”

I hopped onto the bar and started to dance. Samantha jumped up there with me, followed by someone we didn’t know. I was in the middle, sandwiched between two lesbians, gripping a stripper pole.

Soon after, we decided it was in our best interests to leave the lesbian bar and get some sleep. The four of us left the bar and headed back to Em’s apartment.

“I have no idea who you are,” Emily said. I laughed.

Becky put her arm around me. “That was pretty impressive,” she said. "If you liked girls, and you weren't my cousin's best friend, and I wasn't in a relationship right now, I would have been all over that!"

“That’s a lot of ifs, Bec,” I said.

And at that, it was time to return to my demure, reserved, schoolteacher exterior. At least until St. Patrick's Day...

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

January, pt. II

(eventually, these will be combined.)

I know, you think I forgot Hal. I didn’t.

Since I’ve started dating again, my mom has taken an active role in finding me prospective dates. She started surfing the internet dating sites and emailing me men she finds interesting.

I probably would have overlooked Hal myself. He was listed as divorced, and had two young children.

"Oh, Katie, you have to write to this guy. He's cute," mom wrote.

Well, he was cute. And he sounded smart. And cultured. And interesting.

So I wrote to Hal.

We talked on the phone a few times, and decided that we’d meet for drinks after work at (name of bar).

Well, she was right. He was cute.

He was wearing glasses, which he hadn’t been wearing in his photo.

We met for a drink, which turned into dinner, which turned into more drinks. We had great conversation. He's a very confusing sort of fellow....all proper and gentlemanly. Likes the theater. Likes to read. Very well-spoken. Also a former Army Ranger. (that's the confusing part...the two don't seem to fit together. He apparently took a lot of ribbing from the guys because he would go to London and see musicals during his leave...)

Er...anyway...he is charming, and intelligent, and funny, and he completely adores his children. He talked about Maddy, who was six and getting into cheerleading.

“We’d be great friends then,” I told him. “I was a cheerleader.”

“Really?” Hal looked surprised. “You don’t seem like the type.”

“Thank you,” I said.

I prided myself on not seeming like the “type.”

I asked him about his ex wife, what had happened.

“We were really young,” he said. “Too young. One day, we just realized that we were better friends than anything else.”

“How long ago did you split up?” I wondered.

“Four years ago.”

Four years. That seemed like a comfortable distance.

Did I mention how cute he is? Dark hair, glasses, dimples. Oh, those dimples.

We talked a while longer, and I told him that I needed to go home.

“6 a.m. comes awfully early,” I said.

He walked me to my car, hugged me, and thanked me for meeting him.

“Is it all right if I call you again?” he asked.

Was he kidding?

“Of course,” I grinned. “I’m looking forward to it.”

This could be big trouble...opposing Katie types on either side...because on the other side, there's Rick. The guy who sings....who, in addition to singing in a country band, actually majored in vocal performance (and math, go figure) in college, likes Italian arias and used to use "Bring Him Home" from Les Mis as his audition piece. Still haven't really heard him, but the thought of it makes me swoon. There’s just something about a man who can sing. What's a girl to do?

For our second date, Hal picked me up at 4 pm (in his Jaguar!) and we went to see a movie. After the movie, we talked about dinner. I asked if there was anywhere in particular he wanted to go...if not, I was going to suggest Cole's or India Gate.

"Have you ever been to (Name of Steakhouse) at the (Hotel)?"

Wow. No. E.B. (Name of Steakhouse) is a nice place. A really, really nice place.

“Okay,” he said, “let's go there.”

He called ahead to see if he was dressed appropriately. He wasn’t wearing a tie.

Wow. WOW. No man has ever taken me for a dinner at a place like that.

We were seated, and I opened the menu. I had to fight to hide my shock. The most inexpensive item on the menu was the cheeseburger platter for $13.95 and everything else is in the $30 range.

“Order whatever you want,” Hal said. “I’ve never been disappointed here. Even the cheeseburger is great.”

I hate to sound shallow, and I'm afraid that I might, but this was an entirely new experience for me. Money was clearly NO object for Hal.

But that wasn’t even the best part....the best part was the conversation. We just talked and talked and talked, all through dinner, and dessert, and then we moved to the bar for drinks after dinner and talked some more...about our favorite movies, our families, past relationships, old friends. I found out that his favorite movie is What’s the Name of this Damn Movie, closely followed by So I Married an Axe Murderer.

“That kid's head's like Sputnik. Spherical but quite pointy in parts. Oh, that was a harsh one, wasn't it? He'll be cryin himself to sleep tonite on his huge pilla," he quoted, doing a perfect Mike Myers imitation. I laughed.

He told me the most touching story about a friend that he lost in the Gulf War and I almost cried....I'll save that one for another time. He was so sweet, and such a gentleman. He held every single door for me. Every one. Also during conversation, I learned that his father has been on the cover of Forbes magazine and belongs to some famous fancy country club in Phoenix that has an admission fee of $60,000.

After dinner at almost 10, we decided to take a ride to Niagara Falls, just for fun. We just walked around a little bit and talked some more. It was much colder than it was in Buffalo, and neither of us was really prepared.

"I was going to be all romantic and hold your hand,” he told me on the way back to the car, “ but it was too cold!"

When we got back, we took a little walk down by the lake in Delaware Park. (and he did hold my hand)

He brought me back to my apartment and I invited him in....but had to tell him that I don't have cable. That was embarrassing. Really, how do you tell a guy who drives a Jag and spends $120 on dinner on a second date that you can't afford cable for crying out loud...He thought this was both funny and a little sad, and wouldn't stop teasing me. He even offered to PAY for cable for me...or at least split it with me

“Let's see how things go, and then we'll talk,” I told him.

When he finally decided it was time to leave, at around 1 a.m., I walked out with him so I could move my car. Damn evil eye doctor.

He wrapped his arms around me and gave me a squeeze, then quickly brushed his lips against mine.

"Is it all right if I call you?"

Um, let me think about!!!!

"Of course it is," I said.

I moved the car and headed back up to my apartment. I think I floated up all three flights. It was obviously too early to tell if anything would come of it, but I think I definitely thought I was going to enjoy myself. I hadn't gotten in touch with Rick yet, but what I liked him just as much? Oh, Lord. I couldn't even think about it.


Tuesday, November 16, 2004

word count update

Yes, I've changed my meter to show 14,056, and the two or three of you who are reading may notice that I've not posted anything new. I have a couple of posts saved in draft mode, which I'm just not ready to put "out there" just yet. Check back with me in a few days, and they should be ready to go. :)

Sunday, November 14, 2004


Added about 1,300 words to January. :)

Tuesday, November 09, 2004


Strong_and_smart would like to chat. Do you accept?

The cursor blinked at me in the chat window. I clicked on his profile. Seemed reasonably intelligent. Military. Army Reserves. Also a student.

I clicked “yes”

A few clicks and giggles later, he asked if it was all right to call me. I agreed. We talked easily and I laughed, and agreed to talk again at a more reasonable hour, when we would consider meeting.

He called me the next day, when I got home from work.

“So let’s meet,” he said.

“Okay,” I said.

“You can come over to my place, if you want. Watch a movie or something.”

Whoa. Whoa. Hold on there cowboy. Did he really think I would just agree to go to his apartment? For all I knew, he could be a serial killer. And even if that wasn’t the case, I had to be able to make a swift getaway if I needed to.

“How about if we meet for coffee?” I ventured.

Coffee. Nice. Safe. Public.

“Sure,” he said. “But it would really help me if you could come out my way. I have a lot of work to do.”

We agreed on a time and a place.

When I arrived at the coffee shop, he was already at the counter. He was taller than I had thought, and cuter. He was wearing a cream-colored turtleneck sweater and jeans, and his blond hair was cropped close to his head in true military fashion.


I smiled. “You must be Tony.”

He returned the smile. “You’re even prettier in person.”

“Thank you,” I said. “Your pictures don’t do you justice, either.”

We sat and talked for nearly two hours. Writing and science, physics and poetry. Our pasts and our futures. We talked easily and freely, and when it came time to leave, neither of us was quite ready to part ways.

”I’m not ready to go home yet. How about you?” he said.

“Not really,” I smiled. “What should we do?”

He shrugged. “Let’s get in the car and see what catches our attention.”

He unlocked—and opened—the car door for me. And we drove. A flashing neon sign proclaiming “Everything 99 Cent” grabbed him.

“Do you mind?” he said. “I need a broom.”

“Not at all.” What can I say? I’m easily amused.

We started up the first aisle, where all the cheap plastic toys were located, and Tony picked up a megaphone.

“Attention K-Mart shoppers.” He laughed. I did, too, in spite of myself.

“What are you doing?” I giggled. “Put that down.”

He obliged, until he found his next plaything. It was kind of like shopping with a hyperactive child, except that I found it sort of endearing.

We left, and before we got in the car, Tony asked me to dance in the parking lot.

“But there’s no music,” I said.

He grabbed me around the waist, clasped my hand, and pulled me to him.

"Siiiiiiingin' in the rain, just siiiiiiingin’ in the rain" he crooned.

“It’s not raining,” I protested.

“So what?”

When he dropped me off back at my car, he hugged me, but sort of picked me up, swung me around and dropped me at my door.

“Thank you for a wonderful evening.” He kissed my cheek. “You really are beautiful.”

I drove home, giddy

Oh Lord...what am I doing?


I couldn’t stop thinking about him. I knew it was crazy. It was too soon. It was way too soon. But I couldn’t deny it. Yes, I was attracted to Tony, but it was more than that. I liked him. He made me laugh.

The second time I saw him, I did go to his apartment. We went to the video store and decided on ? When we got back, he showed me around the apartment. We sat down on the couch and talked for a little while.

“Can I get you something to drink,” he offered.

“Sure. Just some water would be fine,” I said.

He went to the kitchen, and I surveyed the room. Typical bachelor apartment. I got up and walked over to the entertainment center and checked out the DVD collection.

“See anything good?”

He walked over to me and handed me the water I’d requested.

“Thanks. Are they yours?”

“Most of them.”

“Good stuff here. Spaceballs. Say Anything. A Few Good Men. I approve.”

“Good.” He smiled, took my hand, and led me back to the couch. “Want to put the movie in?”


I sat patiently on the edge of the couch, waiting for him to get the movie ready. When it had started playing, he laid down on the couch and gently pulled me down beside him. I nestled my back into his front in the spoon position, and he wrapped his arm around me.

Strong arms. I closed my eyes, inhaled, and let myself relax into him.

All through the movie, he gently rubbed my arm and shoulder with his free hand.

That was all. No groping, no pawing. He was a perfect gentleman. Maybe a little too perfect, in fact.

“I should probably get going,” I said. “I have to work in the morning.”

“Okay. I’ll walk you out.”

We stood in front of his building, saying our goodnight. He leaned in to kiss me, and I stood on tiptoes, my face tilted toward his. Our lips met in the sweetest, softest kiss I could have possibly imagined.

I closed my eyes and savored the moment. His taste. His smell. His touch.

He pulled away, and I opened my eyes, breathless. I caught myself just before I lost my balance, and lowered my heels back to the ground.

“Goodnight, beautiful Katie.”

“Goodnight,” I sighed. He stood there and watched me get into my car and drive away. I smiled, gave a little wave, and thought of that kiss until I fell asleep that night.


“Em, I’m in trouble. Big trouble.” I’d waited until the next day to call her. We went to (Greek Restaurant) for French fries. They made the best fries in the city. I fiddled with my straw paper, tying it into a knot and pulling. Someone told me once that if you pulled it apart without the knot, someone was thinking of you. I’d nearly perfected the art of pulling it apart without the knot.

“What do you mean?”

I crumbled the paper between my fingers, rolling it into a ball. I tossed it aside and started working on my napkin. “I like him. I can’t like him. It’s too soon.”

“Would you stop it?” Emily rolled her eyes. “It’s not like you have to marry the guy. You like him. Have fun.”

Have fun. As if it were that easy. I’ve never been very good at dating. The casual kind anyway. I was always worrying. What was I thinking? What was he thinking? Was it serious? Did I want it to be? Did he?

I’ve never understood how people do it. And I’m a little bit wary of people who seem to enjoy it too much.
The waitress brought our platter of fries and I started munching on one.

“Do you need anything else?”

I started to shake my head, but Emily jumped in. “Just my ranch dressing, please.”

Em was a bona-fide ranch addict. She ate it on everything. The waitress nodded and walked back toward the kitchen.

“So what do I do?”

“You go out with him again and stop worrying.”

Yeah. Easy for her to say.


A few days later, Friday morning, I woke up with the overwhelming urge to vomit. I crawled to the bathroom and lay on the floor for a while. There was no way I was getting to work.

I pulled on some clothes, bundled up, and dragged myself to the mini mart for saltines and ginger ale. Getting sick is never fun, but it really sucks when you live by yourself. It kind of makes you long for your mommy…someone to tuck you in and bring you medicine and food that won’t make you puke.

I really miss my mommy sometimes.

I trudged back to my apartment, called the secretary’s voice mail and expressed my sincerest apologies. Then I fell back into bed.

The ringing of the phone at around noon dragged me back into the world of the living. I picked it up, fully expecting it to be Emily.

“Katie? This is Ann. I didn’t expect you to be there.”

Ann. Alex’s mom.

“Oh. Yeah. I’m home sick today.”

This wasn’t awkward at all.

“Well, I just wanted to thank you for sending the book.”

“Oh, you’re welcome.”

We chatted politely for a few minutes. She asked me how teaching was going, and if I had any prospects for a full-time position. I answered her questions, and refrained from making any rude comments about her asshole son.

I hung up the phone, feeling a sharp pang of sadness. I realized that I didn’t just miss him. I missed them. I’d never had a boyfriend’s family be so welcoming before. They really made me feel like I was part of the family.

I didn’t just lose Alex. I lost all of them.

I forced down a cup-o-soup and some saltines, which I washed down with a glass of ginger ale, then crawled back into bed.

(this section needs a lot of fleshing out...and probaby will be moved around and inserted elsewhere)

Tony sent me an email with a poem attached, one that he apparently wrote. Incredibly sweet. But I have to wonder, is it too much? Is it stalkeresque? Or is it just a guy who is genuinely open about his feelings?

Tony has another strike against him…the National Guard thing. He's in the officer training program, and there’s a very real possibility that he could end up getting shipped overseas. (His company is going in December. He's not. They can’t send him until he goes for his training. Is this something I even want to allow myself to get involved with?


I slept away most of Saturday. Sleep is a good thing. The fever broke sometime in the middle of the afternoon, leaving me with just congestion, a mild cough, and some achiness.

Tony called and offered to bring me chicken soup, but I declined. I've only seen him 3 times. I didn’t know if I could handle letting him see me at my disgusting, unshowered, feverish, sweaty worst. It was sweet of him to offer, though.

I still wasn’t entirely sure where I wanted it to go. Do I need to be sure where I want this to go, or can I just enjoy it for what it is right now...a nice guy who seems to like me, who makes me laugh, and just so happens to be a good kisser? Part of me was feeling like I needed to have a talk with him, but was that too much? Maybe he would think I was a complete freak

Hmmm. Why does life have to be so complicated? Or is it? Do I make it more complicated than it has to be??


I pulled out from the curb, and heard an odd crunching sound. Snow stuck to the tires, I figured. I kept going, but when I reached the highway it was apparent that the problem was more than snow. I pulled off the side of the road at the first opportunity and got out. My right driver’s side tire was completely flat. Actually, it was utterly destroyed. It looked like it had exploded.

I called for roadside assistance, which wass supposed to have been included with my extended warranty. The man on the phone says I don't. They can't get a hold of the dealership as it is 7:45 a.m. Distraught, I offer my credit card number. A tow truck is supposedly on its way.

While waiting for help, four (count 'em, four) Buffalo police officers stop to see if I need help. I turned on the radio.

“Watch out for a disabled vehicle at the … ramp onto the outbound 33,” the morning traffic reporter warned.

A few minutes later, a tow truck passed by me, then stopped and backed up. The driver got out and walked toward my car. I rolled down the window.

“Need a tow?” he asks.

“Someone’s supposed to be coming for me,” I said. I check the clock. I’ve been waiting for over an hour.

“Are you sure? I’ve got a deal with Firestone. They pay for the tow if I bring the business to them.

I hesitated. Was he on the level? I looked at the clock again and agreed. I called Emily and asked her to meet me there.

She picked me up , and we headed to the café at the bookstore to wait.

“I can’t believe this. I’m such a loser,” I moaned. “I had to call in to work again, after I was just sick last week.

Several hours and phone calls later, Firestone called, trying to get me to buy four new tires and get an alignment. Whatever. I said no, and asked them to just replace the exploded tire right now, thank you. Crooks.

“If I was a man, this crap wouldn’t happen,” I said.

“Yeah,” Emily agreed.

“Or if I had a man, this crap wouldn’t happen.”

It’s true. Sometimes I think we young people of the female persuasion have signs plastered on our foreheads that say “Go ahead! Take advantage of me!”

“I know. Being single really sucks sometimes.”

I called Tony, and his first repsonse was "You could have called me."

Really? I mean, the thought crossed my mind, but I wasn’t sure if that was too much of a “girlfriendy” thing to do.


I dragged Emily into the boutique with me to see the dress. I needed something new to wear to my cousin April’s fake wedding, which was under two weeks away.

The family hadn’t been entirely thrilled with April’s engagement to begin with. It happened fast. Very fast. And she was still in college. I, of course, cited all the appropriate reasons for being upset about April’s engagement, but the truth was, I was jealous.

I had been waiting, very patiently, I thought, for Alex to pop the question. Every engagement, every shower, every wedding I was forced to face without a ring of my own I took as further confirmation that it was, in fact, never going to happen.

So there I was, rapidly approaching “old maid” status, and bam! After barely six months, Jake presents my 22-year-old cousin April a ring. Fabulous. My only consolation?

He proposed at Red Lobster.

Oh, yeah, and then there was the fact that it wasn’t even a real wedding. “Not real” in the sense that they had already run off and eloped a year before. Apparently, they just couldn’t wait. They weren’t going to tell anyone, but of course word got back to my aunt and uncle. No one could believe they were still going through with the whole deal.

Needless to say, I was determined to look amazing at April’s wedding.

I pulled out the dress I wanted to show Emily. It was black satin, strapless, with a wide ivory ribbon at the waist. It was adorable.

It was also, I feared, “too much.”

“What do you mean ‘too much,’” Emily wondered.

“Em, you haven’t seen where this wedding is going to be. It’s not exactly the Hyatt.”

It was, in fact, the (Town Name) Community Building. Essentially, it was a gymnasium. A good portion of Jake’s side of the family, I was quite sure, was going to show up in jeans and pointy-toed cowboy boots. It would be what my photographer friend semi-affectionately termed “a hog rassle.”

“So what? It’s cute. You like it. Buy it and wear it with pride, baby.”

So I did.

“Are you going to ask Tony?”

I had thought about asking Tony, for a fleeting moment, but I thought it was way too soon for something like that. A family wedding in my hometown? Fortunately, before I got too deep into worrying about it, I learned that it was scheduled on his one weekend a month. No Tony.

Two weeks later, I was putting on my best fake smile along with my adorable black dress and heading to the church.

I’d been prepared to be a teary mess during the ceremony, but I was actually fine, mostly, until we reached the Prayers of the Faithful. They offered a prayer for our grandma, and I lost it. So did the rest of my family...

I caught sight of one particularly skanky looking woman, who turned out to be Jake’s sister-in-law. Her hair was bleached blonde, and she wore a tight black skirt with fishnet stockings and tall leather boots. The neckline of her top plunged deeply, revealing far more cleavage than was appropriate in a house of God.

Oh yeah. High class.

“Okay, let's go drink." I mumbled to my brother, who was also attending dateless. I had finished two drinks and started on a third before the wedding party arrived.

The bride and groom made their entrance on a snowmobile. I’d known it was coming, but somehow the image of it really happening was far more overwhelming than I could possibly imagine. The engine roared, and the hall filled with exhaust fumes, which mixed nicely with the cigarette smoke cloud forming over Jake’s family.

A few drinks later, the best man asked me to dance. His jacket and tie were gone, and he was wearing a tuxedo shirt with the arms torn off, exposing a couple of large tattoos.

“I’ve been wanting to talk to you since I saw you at the church,” he slurred. “You are the hottest girl here. You’re super hot.”

Super hot. I couldn’t help but giggle when I thought of that old cheer I used to do in pee-wee football. “Our team is fire! We’re super hot…”

He pulled me close and sang loudly into my ear. The music pounded in the background, and my mind swam as Rob and I swayed on the dance floor. The song ended, and we parted. I stumbled away, and April grabbed me.

“Katie, be careful.”

“What are you talking about?”

“With Rob. He only wants one thing.” With ‘one thing’ she waggled her finger at me. Clearly April had been enjoying the bar a bit as well.

I laughed. “What? You think I would actually do anything with him?”

I may have been drunk, but I wasn’t stupid. I was eating up the attention, but it wasn’t like I would go home with him.

April threw her arms around me. “Okay. Just checkin’. Let’s dance.”

And dance, we did, into the wee hours. We did it all. The electric slide. The chicken dance. The Pennsylvania Polka.

On the way out the door, I noticed the bridesmaids cleaning up the shots from the dollar dance, getting ready to throw them away. I stopped my cousin Melanie.

“What are you doing? That’s alcohol abuse!”

“You want one?”

Jack. I picked one up, sniffed it, and tossed it back. Melanie laughed. I took another one.

“To April and Jake!” I shouted.

My parents dragged my exhausted drunk ass home. I changed my clothes and flopped onto my mom’s bed. She began gently inquiring about my dating life since Alex and I had split up.

“I don’t get it, mom. Why is April married and I’m not? What’s wrong with me?”

“Nothing is wrong with you, Katie.”

“Something must be. Men seem to run screaming at the idea of spending the rest of their lives with me.” I buried my face in the pillow. I didn’t understand. I’d survived the wedding. Why was I turning into a whiny mess now?

Mom put her arms around me. “You know that’s not true. You just haven’t found the right one yet.”

“I’m tired of it, mom. I’m tired of dating. I don’t want to do it anymore.”

I was beginning to think that maybe arranged marriages weren’t so bad. Maybe there was a nice boy in Italy who wanted to come to the states and marry a nice Italian-American girl.

My mom stroked my hair. “I know, baby. I know.”

I know my family thought that I just wanted to be married, that nothing else was important to me, but that wasn’t exactly it.

I mean, of course I do. I want someone to love. I want someone to love me back. I want to be happy, put down roots, have a family. I just seem to have a hard time believing that I will have those things when there isn't someone in my life.

I mean, what was I doing with these guys? With Tony? It felt good to have someone’s arms around me, to be told I was beautiful. As long as I had that, I could close my eyes and pretend it was something more.

I could pretend I didn’t miss Alex.


I went back knowing that I had to end whatever it was I was doing with Tony. I didn’t see a future with him. I’d had some fun with him, but it wasn’t going to go anywhere. And I had no desire to pursue a purely physical relationship with him. It just wasn’t that good.

Tony was one of those guys who thought he was way better than he really was. And then there was the singing. Oh, God, the singing. In bed.

At first it was almost cute, but then it got to be completely insufferable.

He started off with classic stuff. The Beatles. Michele.

“I don’t like that song,” I said. “Sing something else.”

“All right. We talk all night, try to make it right, believe me shit was tight. It was the wrong way.”

He’d sing that line, then giggle like a 12-year-old.

“You know that song?”


He was like a hyperactive child, and he would just not. Shut. Up. Ever.

“That’s it,” I told Emily. “I have to tell him.”

“What are you going to say?”

“I don’t know,” I sighed.

As it turned out, I didn’t have to think too long about it. He called me later that night and told me he was being sent for his officer training earlier than he thought.

“When?” I asked.

“Early January.” He seemed nervous, preoccupied. He told me he was worried about school. He didn’t know when he’d finish his degree. He didn’t know what would happen. There was a very real chance he’d get sent to Iraq when his training was finished.

“I think it might be best if we just end this now, be friends.”

“Okay?” I said.

“I mean, it’s going to happen anyway. There’s no sense in us getting closer when I’m going to be leaving, right?”

“Right,” I agreed.

“And it’s not like I’d expect you to wait for me. I mean, maybe if neither one of us is seeing anyone when I come back, we could give it a shot.”

“Sure,” I said.

We said goodbye, and I hung up the phone. I was inexplicably sad. Did I just miss the idea of having someone around, or was I really going to miss Tony?

I liked him. I did. It was just the wrong way.