The Set Up

Michelle taught across the hall from me.  She was “long term subbing”, which meant she was filling in for the teacher who normally taught across the hall on her maternity leave.  Michelle was a very popular substitute teacher in our building, having graduated from Wayne State the year before.  She worked in this building nearly every day because of the frequent requests for her skills, and now she was here for two months while the regular classroom teacher recuperated from the birth of her baby.

Michelle and I had hit it off right away.   We liked a lot of the same things, she lived not far from me, and we had a lot of the same experiences having gone to the same university.  We found ourselves sharing lunchtimes and prep periods often, sharing ideas about what to do next with our second graders.  I was doing nearly everything in the classroom at this, the midway point of the semester.  I welcomed the children in the mornings, taught the math lessons while Kathy graded papers at her desk, and generally was getting used to the pace and flow of teaching.  It was tough, exhausting work; Michelle and Kathy laughed when I talked about my sore feet or how mentally tired I was; it was like being on a stage for six hours straight with a half an hour lunch and a pee break now and then.

So when Michelle approached me one Wednesday afternoon asking if I had plans that weekend, initially, I told her that I planned on putting Zachary to bed early and curling up with a good book on Saturday night.  It was early March, still snowy in SE Michigan, and I was tired all of the time.  I was looking forward to using this weekend to catch up on my rest.

“Here’s the deal,” she pressed.  “Frank and I are in this bowling league, and one of the people cancelled for this weekend.”  Frank was Michelle’s fiance.  I had seen him from time to time after school when he picked her up or visited during evening activities at the school.  He seemed nice.

I laughed.  “Michelle, you do NOT want me to fill in for your bowling league.  I’m a terrible bowler. ”

She wasn’t taking no for an answer.  “OK, I wasn’t going to put it this way, but I might as well.  Really, I’m trying to set you up on a date.  You’d be doubling with me and Frank and his brother.”

A set up.  A blind date.  Ugh.   “Why would you want to do that?  You know I’m a single mom.  Guys my age do not take well to the girl with the two and a half year old.  How old is Frank’s brother?”

“He’s twenty.”  Ah, a younger man, even.

“No way, Michelle.  That’s insane.  Guys my age do not deal well with the kid thing.”

“Actually, I don’t think it really will matter.  See, he’s home doing an internship this winter; he goes to school up in Houghton in the Upper Peninsula.  He isn’t interested in a long term, serious relationship.   So that really shouldn’t matter to him.”

“Wait, have you talked to him about this already?”

Michelle smiled slyly.  “Maybe a little.”

A date.  Was I really up for this?   Then again, if I went in with the expectation that this was going no where and just a short term thing, just some companionship for a few weeks until he went back to school?  Maybe.  Maybe that would be a good thing.

“I don’t know, Michelle.  I haven’t been on a real date in ages.  I wouldn’t know what at all to do.”

“No problem,” she laughed.  “It’s bowling.   You’re busy doing stuff, and you talk about the ugly shoes and the crappy scores you’re getting and have a few beers.  If this helps sway you at all, Tom’s really good looking.”

Why on earth would a good looking twenty year old guy want to bowl on a Saturday night with a single mother?

“Alright, Michelle.  I’ll do it.  I can’t imagine why on earth you’re pushing this, but I’m in.”

“Great!  I’ll pick you up at 7 on Saturday and we’ll drive over and pick up the guys together.”

What had I gotten myself into?

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