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.


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