Teaching high school didn’t open up many dating possibilities at work, unless you count the weird science teacher with the orange stick-up hair and the pocket protector, or the short English teacher who did impersonations as well as anyone on Saturday Night Live.
One night, as I was complaining that I couldn’t find any good guys to date, my friend, Gail, challenged me. She said, “We are going into this bar, Sue, and you are going to meet somebody!”
Yes, we still followed the notion that bars were the best place to meet guys. Decades later, lesson learned — guys in bars are either lonely, divorced, alcoholics, or all of the above.
“How about that one?” she said, pointing to a handsome man at the bar.
Gail walked me over to him and introduced me. His name was Jack, and he had a beard. Was he hiding something? Did he have a weak chin? He bought me a drink and then showed me a photo of his tiny nephew. He asked for a date, and with Gail’s encouragement, I said yes.
Jack picked me up at my farmhouse, halfway between Omaha and Lincoln. He wanted to go to a party in Lincoln. He led me by the hand into the party house. I noticed the people were giving me funny looks, especially the women. Was my perm too weird? Was my zipper down? We stayed for a while and then went out to dinner. Then Jack took me back to the farmhouse and wanted to stay over, but I sent him home.
Then he didn’t call, for a week. I finally looked up his name in the Lincoln phone book (no internet back then) and called his number.
A woman answered.
“Is Jack there?” I asked.
“Big Jack or Little Jack?” she asked.
That’s weird. The guy lives with his dad?
“Little Jack,” I said.
“Little Jack is one year old,” she said.
My first thought was, if he’s only one, then why did you ask me if I wanted to talk to him? My second thought was, crap, this guy is MARRIED!
I slammed down the phone. I had just spoken with his wife! This guy was a total #&@%+!
The signs had been there. I’d forgotten to look.
Tan line on his fourth finger, left hand. Check.
Tiny nephew photo, really his son. Check.
Too eager to buy me a drink. Check.
Took me to his friends’ party to show off? Check.
Just to tick off his wife’s friends? Check.
What could SHE be thinking? A woman (me) just called the house asking for him. They had a baby with HIS name! I was so mad and embarrassed and ashamed that I had been so dumb and . . . (Clueless, the movie, would not come out for another sixteen years).
No more approaching guys in bars.
No more going out with Gail for a while.
No more wishing for a date.
No date was better than a date with a married man.
Couldda Wouldda Shouldda
If I would’ve stayed with Jack, he would’ve promised to divorce his wife, but he never would have because of Little Jack. I would’ve stayed with him for 6 months, then gone out with the impersonation English guy, married him, and had our summers off together. The first year we would spend our big teacher bucks traveling the states, and at the end of the next and every April after that I would have a baby and then go on maternity leave until the end of the school year. After four kids, I would quit teaching and would tutor farm kids in Spanish, whose parents would come to conferences and say, “Why does my son have to learn a language anyway? He’s never going to leave Nebraska!”