Single in the suburbs, part 121 by Sara Susannah Katz
In our last installment, our columnist had just returned from her all-girl weekend getaway and was staving off feelings of nostalgia about her failed marriage with Craig by summoning Ethan, the Craigslist handyman. She and Ethan had chemistry when he came over for repairs and lasagna just a few days ago. Will sparks fly?
Sunday, 8 p.m., continued
Confession: There's nothing wrong with the washing machine. Or to put it another way, there is a little something wrong - water's not running into the machine - but I already know how to fix that. It's just a kink in the hose because I pushed the machine too close to the wall when I vacuumed the laundry room last week.
Would it be awful if I asked Ethan to fix my washing machine when I already know what's wrong with it and, worse, when I know that it's something I can fix myself? The ruse will require me to feign helplessness, a role I don't particularly enjoy playing. When I was married, I was the handy one, not Craig. It bothered me that mechanics and other workmen types would direct their comments to him, as if he had a clue about joists or transmissions or hot water heaters. I just wanted to raise my hand and say, Just talk to me. My husband has no idea what you mean. He's just nodding his head so you think he's macho and I'm not going to say anything because I don't want him to feel emasculated.
Sometimes when I contemplate remarrying, that's the one thing that consistently gives me pause - the idea of being stuck in a traditional role again. Like all those riveting Rosies who had to give up their factory jobs when the men came home from the war, I wouldn't want to surrender the independence and self-sufficiency I've acquired since Craig and I split up. And I definitely don't want to be bound by those same expectations either, although I'm the first to admit that I manufactured most of those expectations myself - I assumed it was my job to handle the domestic chores, then felt I'd let everyone down when I didn't do them.
I love it when men on a dating site making a point of saying: I'm not looking for a maid. I don't need someone to cook for me or clean up after me. I can do all those things for myself. I have to believe that those guys have a competitive edge over the ones hoping for a more traditional relationship. Like the guy who had the guts to write, "I need a woman to help me with farm work." I kid you not, this was the last headline I read on a profile. Well, I guess he gets points for being honest...
I don't think Ethan would be like that. He's the one who suggested I work along with him so I can learn how to do repairs myself. And he must be fairly progressive if he lived on an ashram, right?
I call Ethan's number. No answer. I leave a message: "Hey there. I'm back from Sarasota and I am getting ready to do a load of laundry, but there's something wrong. With the machine, I mean. And, well, I was hoping that you could stop by sometime, preferably this week. I'm thinking, onion quiche? Or another lasagna. Whatever you prefer."
Good grief. I should never be allowed to leave messages on answering machines. I sound like a blathering idiot.
Sunday, 8:30 p.m.
My phone starts beeping while I leave the message, indicating an incoming call. It's Ethan! "I missed a call from you?"
"Yeah, I was just leaving a message. Don't listen to it. I was blathering."
He says, "Why were you blathering?"
I could tell him that I was blathering because I think I like him and I'm sort of lying about my washing machine but that's probably not a good idea. "Oh, I don't know. I tend to leave rambling messages. Sorry."
"Hey. No apology necessary. What?s up?"
I tell him my washing machine is broken and feel my cheeks reddening. He asks me if I checked the hose for kinks. Damn. But before I can answer, he says he'd be happy to stop by and check it himself. Besides, he's wanted to check on the windows anyway. (Check on the windows? What's to check? Either they work or they don't. I think maybe he's looking for an excuse to see me. I know the feeling.)
He says he could stop by now. I tell him I don't have anything for dinner. He says he can take a rain check on dinner. "It'll give me an excuse to come back."
He'll be here in 20 minutes.
Sara Susannah Katz is a writer in the Midwest. Her novel, Wife Living Dangerously, is now available.
Article courtesy of Happen magazine, www.happenmag.com