(Still) Waiting to Exhale


Everyone always asks me why I’m so pessimistic. To the casual outside observer, I’ve got no reason to pervasively expect the worst in all situations. But if you spent a day or two trudging around in my Christian Louboutin hidden platform pumps, you might understand why my glass (even when it contains a Wine Spectator-lauded 2003 Brunello di Montalcino) is perpetually half empty.

In case you haven’t already guessed, I went on my first date with my co-worker Carson. And it couldn’t have gone better. In fact, it went so well that we even went on a second date—on New Year’s Day, no less.

On both dates, my hair cooperated (it is a rare occurrence when I’m able to keep my hair down for an entire evening, and the likelihood of being able to keep it down for the duration of TWO consecutive dates occurs with the same frequency as a galactic equinox), I didn’t feel fat, and I was able to pick out absolutely perfect outfits. You know, the kind where I was somehow able to appear effortlessly, casually sexy with just the right mix of trendy and elegant. But not at all high-maintenance.

Even better, the chances of anyone at the firm getting suspicious is at an all-time low. I have the non-equity litigation partner whose wife kicked him out of the house on Christmas Eve after discovering evidence of an extramarital affair with his young associate protégée to thank for that. His secretary, who made him a reservation at a local hotel and who has been fielding phone interrogations from the jilted wife since the Monday after Christmas, has promised that the saga will be long and dirty—and she will be reporting all of the morbid details directly from within the trenches. Carson and I could easily fly under the radar for the entirety of 2010.

Put simply, Carson is hilarious, smart, kind, and thoughtful. In fact, by the end of the first date, we were already having conversations about Things That Matter. In other words, I was paying attention and interested in the things that were coming out of his mouth. When I got home that night—after he insisted on the cab dropping me off first, even though it was out of his way—I called my mom in the middle of the night to tell her that I’d found the guy I was going to marry.

Our second date was equally flawless. We had our first real kiss, which was absolute perfection. Then we slept at his place and fooled around enough to keep it interesting but not so much as to destroy the sanctity of the obviously progressing Relationship.

I awoke the following morning in his Percale sheeting to the smell of brewing Dunkin Donuts coffee. (I swear to you—and my condolences to the residents of California—best coffee on the freaking planet.) He had apparently purchased some especially for me after listening to me rave about it on Date #1. When I wandered into the kitchen, I found the table set for breakfast.

At this point, it’s more than fair to stop me and scream, “What could you POSSIBLY have to complain about?!” But please be patient. I’m about to explain why my white porcelain Apilco coffee mug was only half full.

Over my first breakfast of 2010 (not to mention my first breakfast with a guy in two years), Carson cleared his throat, stammered a bit, and revealed to me that he is DIVORCED. And has a CHILD.

Well, it at least explained the photos of an adorable dark-haired girl that I briefly caught sight of when being whisked through his place in a semi-drunken frenzy the night before. He apologized for not bringing it up during our first date, or before or during the second date. He explained that he feels awkward and ashamed about it—not to mention, it’s hard to work a sob story about a failed post-college shotgun marriage that unraveled during law school into otherwise upbeat conversation.

Personally, I thought he was playing dirty and trying to get me hooked before throwing out the ultimate red flag/deal-breaker combo. Which is precisely what happened, because if he had dropped this particular bomb sometime prior to me falling prematurely (but conclusively) in love with him, I would have cut and run immediately. But at this point, I’m thoroughly intoxicated by the otherwise sublimity of what’s been unfolding ever since our fateful chance meeting at the Bengals bar.

It also occurred to me that the fact that he’s a relatively recent lateral who practices in a totally different group separated from me by three whole floors (a fact I had initially celebrated because it would insulate us from the nasty side of intra-firm romance scrutiny) was precisely to blame for my ignorance on his previously married-with-child status.

Which brings me back to my TOTALLY JUSTIFIED pessimism, thank you very much. I have absolutely no idea what to do. I’m also AWFUL at making good decisions when my emotions and fantasies are pulling me in an opposite direction from my logic. I was the sort of kid who always peeked at the alternate endings in my Choose Your Own Adventure books before making a choice. Also significant: The choice I was usually leaning towards had the worst ending. So there’s that.

What was I supposed to do? My first promising dating situation in forever, rising like a Phoenix from the ashes of countless rejections and failed attempts…and he’s DIVORCED?!?

Of course, my biggest questions (Did you cheat on her? Did she cheat on you? In 2,000 words or more, please explain in detail exactly why you married her in the first place, and what went wrong. Who filed for divorce, and on what grounds, and is she insane, and do you expect that your child will be well adjusted notwithstanding the broken home? Do you want to have more children? Has co-parenting been going well thus far? What are your thoughts on the appropriate size and scope of a second wedding?) were a little too, um, penetrating for right that minute. Instead, I listened, held back my burning questions, and ate my blueberry buckwheat pancakes with pure maple syrup.

Our conversation eventually eased back into much less problematic terrain, and we even had a few laughs before I gathered up my stuff and headed back to my place. He brought up a great new high-end sports bar in River North and suggested going for a late dinner and drinks on Thursday. I tentatively agreed. A little voice in my head was screaming, “No! No! No!” But it was far less persuasive than the butterflies and visions of cushion-cut diamonds in micro-pave settings that appeared when he kissed me goodbye and walked me out.

As the cab made it’s way down Lake Shore Drive, I stared at the frozen lake and recalled the simpler days of two weeks ago, when my biggest fears about Carson had to do with the pratfalls of dating a fellow attorney from my firm. A few moments later, I got out my BlackBerry and added “watch nat’l championship game with Carson” to my Thursday schedule.

Law Firm 10 may lack the dazzling, magnetic charisma of a girl from the hottest sorority in school, but she (arguably) makes up for that with her wit, humor, and low-maintenance-ness. Read more from Law Firm 10.

38 Comments

  1. KateLaw

    January 6, 2010 at 4:44 am

    Stop being such a downer.. I think he deserves a solid chance bc he sounds perfect for you.

  2. Guano Dubango

    January 6, 2010 at 4:53 am

    I say this woman is too much.  I no longer want to bang this neurotic woman lawyer, even if she has a job.  So what the guy has a little, what you say, baggage?  I do too.  It’s not like this woman is a virgin.  She has been with other guys before, and has surely driven them away.  I say, who does LF10 think SHE is, anyway—Mary Magdaline?  Please come on!  The fact that this man is divorced means he was actually married.  He was able before to commit to some other woman.  That’s more than this LF10 has ever been able to do.  The fact that this man also has a kid should also mean he’s not shooting blanks, which is also a good thing.  As my Aunt Ooona says, this woman for sure try to to pop out a cub after she lassoos the right guy–I think maybe this “Carson”.  It also sounds to me like this law woman should do her best to hook “Carson” on the line rather than start all the pissing and moaning that he is divorced.  I recommend this woman prepare for Carson by keeping yourself clean and fresh– and who knows, you may again wake up in the guy’s bed.  For now have more fun.  I also hereby release you from any commitment you may want to have to me.

  3. Craig

    January 6, 2010 at 5:14 am

    Dunkin Donuts coffee better than Starbucks?  Come on now.  That is your problem right there.  You start your day with piss water rather than real coffee.

  4. Anonymous

    January 6, 2010 at 5:28 am

    Craig, I disagree.  I like Dunking Donuts, too.  Also, don’t forget that she surely had some cream in her coffee.  I was more impressed about the REAL maple syrup.  My guess is that he was really impressed with her overnite performance – otherwise she would have gotten the Log Cabin or the Aunt Jemima’s.

  5. Anon

    January 6, 2010 at 5:33 am

    “I called my mom in the middle of the night to tell her that I’d found the guy I was going to marry.”
    Your problem isn’t that the guy is divorced and has a child, which isn’t all that big of a deal.  Your problem is that, after the FIRST DATE, you’re thinking about marriage!  Chill out!  Take things slow and see what happens.  Damn.

  6. SCM

    January 6, 2010 at 7:08 am

    My advice would be to stop drinking ‘03 Brunello.

  7. BL1Y

    January 6, 2010 at 8:05 am

    You really need an explanation for why they divorced?  He had a kid and was a law student, ‘nuff said.  And seriously, it’s not that bad.  The kid is already out of the obnoxious diaper phase and has moved on to the cool actually being a person phase.

  8. So Typical

    January 6, 2010 at 8:37 am

    LF10, you’re going to grow old alone and bitter.  You can’t help it, it’s just who you are.  Carson will spend weeks/months trying to convince you that, despite the fact that he’s divorced and has a child (oh the horror, he wasn’t afraid to commit and his sperm appear to be alive and kicking!), he’s actually a good guy.  You’ll fluctuate between agreeing and being on the fence, generally driven by the whimsy of your day, all the while blaming him for your inability to get your head around how you feel until he tires of your harsh judgment and moves on.  He will eventually end up married to a very nice woman and they will have all the things in a relationship that you want but are too foolish to accept as being capable in a marriage with a man who is so “damaged”.  Rinse and repeat until you’re in your early 40s and completely undesireable to anyone other than the guy who drove you down Lakeshore the other morning.

  9. PGuy

    January 6, 2010 at 8:50 am

    Shallow, two-dimensional LF10 does it again–screwing up the obviously good because of concerns about the very obviously unimportant. It all works out though, because you deserve what you get, and the guy deserves far better than you. The irony of this situation is that pretty soon the tables will be reversed: You will be freshly divorced with a child, and the shallow plastic men you are attracted too will be fleeing like rats from a sinking ship. I’d be a pessimist too, if I were you.

  10. another chick

    January 6, 2010 at 9:04 am

    you need to seriously get over yourself. So what if he is divorced. That does not make him tainted. He is a good guy. Let go of your pre-conceived notions of your white “first” wedding and just get to know the guy. And so what if he has a child. Do you like him….that is the bottom line.

  11. Handsome Avocat

    January 6, 2010 at 9:15 am

    I love how this broad writes about her Louboutins but on the other hand can’t even recognize the difference between “it’s” and “its,” as in “it’s [sic] way down Lake Shore Drive . . ..”
    Now, in terms of the story, at a very minimum “Carson” (real name probably “Justin” or “Doug”) is (1) honest; (2) presumably not marriage-adverse; and (3) physiologically capable of fathering a child.
    Get over yourself and give the guy a chance. He may very well be the last train leaving the station…

  12. chad_broski

    January 6, 2010 at 9:41 am

    speaking of deception by omission of a potential dealbreaker, did you mention to “carson” that you write for a web publication under an obnoxious pseudonym, and that you have already shared with the 20 or so regular readers of this site the intimate details of your encounters with him? does he know that everything he says and does will become public knowledge within a few days? or is the real case, as i suspect, that this entire thing is made up?

  13. BL1Y

    January 6, 2010 at 11:17 am

    Posting intimate details on a blog (that made the ABA Blog 100, good work guys!) is WAAAAY worse than not bringing up your kid and failed marriage on a second date.

  14. Marcie2c

    January 6, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    lf10 is very fun to read

  15. Son of Guano

    January 6, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    I understand exactly where LF10 is right now. She noticed and appreciated the Dunkin Doughnuts coffee (no Coffee Bean out there for her-too bad).  But she knows what a kid and a probably deranged ex spouse might mean.  prior loyalties, prior monetary obligations (like child support), and a deranged spouse showing up and ruining dinner.  But he sounds like a keeper: good for LF10. (PS to LF 10-i don’t mention my kids on the 1st date either unless asked).
    PPS: Dad, I think you should have pursued her. She’s far less facile than Alma (” call me your highness”) Federer and unlike lots of women, didn’t write him off over a kid. In fact she’s probably thinking of lots of kids!
    PPSS to LF 10: Can we make sure updates are a bit more often?

  16. Juris Depravis

    January 6, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    Lack of candor: strike one.  Midget 3some and strapons (strikes two and three–you assign the order) are sure to follow. 
    Honestly, he probably has “heard about you” and did not bring up the almost-bastard because he did not want you freaking out on the first or second date.  My main disappointment is that he seems to have unleashed his guilt at the same time as his seed.  Were it me, I would have waited until after you terminated your lease and moved all your shit in my place.
    And how can an allegedly successful litigator can in one breath reiterate his description of “shotgun wedding” and law-school divorce and then wonder “what happened?” Res ipsa ejaculator.

  17. Juris Depravis

    January 6, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    BL1Y, insightful as always (x2)!
    broski, +13 Internets!

  18. Charlie Rose

    January 6, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    Craig, Dunkin Donuts coffee is awful. But Starbucks is a hell of a lot worse.

  19. Craig

    January 6, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    Charlie Rose …  Can you then please enlighten me as to where I can find better coffee in nyc?

  20. Aunt Ooona

    January 6, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    LF 10 you be careful: man with kid has to pay millions of dinars for idle ex wife.  When kid grows, private school, college and clothes, cell phone, car, –he’ll be broke!  His ex wife will say she needs lots of alimony, because has to be “home with young kids” and can’t work. When kid older, she’ll be “inexperienced” and unemployable.  Guano, you stop expecting perfection: you blinded by the thought of melding with that ornamental infidel woman Alma; she no good. Alma would snip your hydraulic fluid lines before you drive to work down a mountain, or have her personal trainer tie you to an anchor and toss you overboard if she wanted someone else.  LF 10 very down to earth. Of course she thinks of marriage right away-she’s a woman!

  21. prog

    January 6, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    Don’t be an idiot.  Keep dating him.

  22. Cheryl

    January 6, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    Isn’t this all just a part of dating in your late-20s/early 30s these days?  Comes with the territory.  (And I’m giving a shout out to Pete’s coffee.)

  23. hurl

    January 6, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    “But not at all high-maintenance.” you’ve got to be kidding me !!!!

  24. Bitter Overseas

    January 6, 2010 at 10:56 pm

    Everybody needs love, and if this series of columns demonstrates anything, it’s that some people (most?) will lead increasingly unfulfilled lives until they are in some kind of give-and-take loving relationship. The career track, financial success, all that stuff – eventually doesn’t hold up the soul. So I’m rooting for LF10 (and why not). I guess the most relevant point I can make on her current situation is to try and gauge if the divorce factor means he is less interested in marriage. Good luck.

  25. Alma Federer

    January 7, 2010 at 3:59 am

    Pretty gals like us just can win with you guys.  That is why I, unlike LF10, don’t hop into bed with you, because you will bash me for doing that, like you do here.  On the other hand, you bash me for reserving sex for someone who I marry.  If we weren’t pretty, you guys wouldn’t care one way or the other, but it is solely because you are pretty that you can’t stand to have us women do any thinking on our own.  I guess in your world, you would mold us women into the ideal playmate—we’re perfect as long as we like football, beer and as much drunken sex as you can take.  Well, that is NOT why I went to law school.  If I ever do marry a lawyer, it will be a guy who rarely has a drink, who respects me and my thoughts, and who likes to take me to the theater 2x a month, and out to a nice dinner beforehand.  So far the men I have had to choose from prefer beer, football and sleasy bars where all I can smell is old alcohol and dirty old towels.  I hope I, like LF10, will finally find our equals in mates, but I don’t think so.  I also don’t go gaga over a guy who would screw me without telling me that he was married and had a kid.  And him cooking some pancakes doesn’t make up for fraudulent sex.  That is why I recommend NO sex at all until marriage.  Girls, remember this rule and you will not feel used or spoiled by men who walk out after having their way with your bodies.

  26. Handsome Avocat

    January 7, 2010 at 10:28 am

    I can’t believe I’m about to say this but I find Alma’s post very well reasoned and persuasive.
    But Alma, not all lawyers us like beer and football. I personally don’t care for either.
    I wish I knew you. I would treat you like the legal princess you are.  And, because I do not wear a watch, there will be no watch for me to brandish. And my car? Well, it speaks for itself.
    Maybe one of these days we’ll cross paths.

  27. Aunt Ooona

    January 7, 2010 at 10:47 am

    Alma, How smart are you really?  I starta to think the only 4.0 you ever had is in blood alcohol level.  No one criticizing that nice LF10! They telling her to take da plunge!  Including Katelaw who isa pretty smart mosta the time.  But you sitta back, bitter all day because some guy hurt you.  You acta like a guy afraid to ask for a date because a woman scornfully said “no” one time.  But LF10, she keep at it and she may getta what she want this time witha good man (even though he hava child support to pay).  You shouldda try again and again till you happy. Diana Ross know “you can’t hurry love.” One day you finda man you like and you’ll be happy. But you need to make use of your slim thighs, perfect breasts, flat stomach, inviting mouth, dulcet voice, and nice face to show a man what you cana do for him. Make him forget all other women. Before wrinkles and cellulite come. Then you looka juiceless and old cougar and itza too late.  Maybe look for men not so snotty then the ones you look at now. But you no find a good man sitting at home or being bitter all da time.  A man not so good looking will love you more. You letta go of that dime honey. Lots of nice men out there.But they notta wait for marriage to see what you like in the sack. Any man who do that, he not be straight.

  28. Bitter Overseas

    January 7, 2010 at 11:03 am

    Is Aunt Oona Italian?

  29. Guano Dubango

    January 7, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    This is not my Aunt Ooona. My aunt is not Italian.  She is a proud 300 lb. Nubian with a mustache who lives in Accra.  I do not believe she even has internet access, as I must send her packages via overland express.

  30. Aunt Ooona

    January 8, 2010 at 9:37 am

    You no listen to Guano. He don know I was born and raised in Italy, attend college in barcelona and only wen to Fez to manage estates after my husband, pass away while ‘interviewing’ secretary.  I speak latin and french but not so good english. Write analysis of economics in late roman republic too.  Six kids and Guano is only one not married yet. He is mad at me for tell him to ignore Alma and chase LF10. I tell him one day a man will see woman like Alma looking depressed in a bar. She will say she looking for perfect man and cannot have sex till she does. Man will say, “that must depress you.” She will say “yes and it does same to my husband.” That what happens to man who marries type like Alma. You hear Guanao? You finda a girl like LF 10 you be happy.

  31. manda

    January 8, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    you may as well give it a shot.  he might end up sucking in a manner completely unrelated to being divorced or having a child.  he seems pretty nice, and it’s not like you have anything else going on.

  32. Anonymous

    January 9, 2010 at 5:27 am

    Wow, this broad needs a good boning.  Not even sure if she went all the way with this jerkoff and now she’s marrying him?  What a desperate loser she is!

  33. Pre-L

    January 9, 2010 at 9:57 am

    I know a LOT about guys- they have comprised 80% of my friends since second grade. And I’m engaged to a great guy. So believe me when I tell you that if you break up with this guy now, you’re a complete idiot. Having read your past columns it seems like this is the first guy you’ve dated in years who is smart, nice, and shares your interests. Moreover, he really IS that into you! So stop being paranoid and let things developed. As a young divorced man, he’s already made his relationship mistakes with someone else so he probably won’t repeat them with you. Since he has a kid, he probably wouldn’t have asked you out if he didn’t see long-term potential. So just accept the good thing that’s sitting right in front of you, mmkay? Mmkay.

  34. LwyrGrl

    January 11, 2010 at 9:16 am

    I’m with Pre-L and manda.  What else do you have going on? What do you have to lose?  Chill out, enjoy being adored by a decent guy that you like, and see where it goes.  An ex-wife and child are nothing abnormal at your age (be glad its not an “experimenting with men” phase or multiple bankruptcies, or a child with a woman that he didn’t have the cajones to commit to).  You’re always going to be dating people, not perfection, and they’re going to come with baggage just like you do.

  35. ChiLawGirl

    January 11, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    LF10, Being divorced is not the worst thing that could happen. Dating a perpetual bachelor IS the worst thing.
    My parents got divorced when I was very young because they just weren’t right for each other and got married too early. Still, my dad is the best guy in the entire world…seriously… and had no problem finding a nice woman to marry. They have been married happily for 15 years now. Divorce can make things slightly complicated but if you really think Carson is “the one,” but can’t overlook some flaws… you are going to be hardpressed to find a more perfect man!!!!

  36. Anon

    January 17, 2010 at 5:17 am

    (1) It’s not like LF10 is any saint.  She shouldn’t feel superior just b/c this guy’s past transgressions led to a child and divorce, while hers maybe only led to an STD.
    (2) The longer you wait to get married, the more often this scenario will occur–all the “mature” guys have other obligations (perhaps that’s what caused them to grow up).
    (3) I’m assuming that LF10 didn’t reveal her blogging habits on the first date, so why should she expect him to reveal the kid/ex?

  37. Skeptical

    January 20, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    If brother Carson’s not making his daughter the first priority in his life (meaning living close enough for shared parenting—meaning more than just weekend visits), then he’s a jerk.  If he IS making her his first priority, then you’ve got to ask yourself: “Do I want to commit to a guy who will be putting me second in his life at least until his daughter’s 18?”

  38. Magic Circle Jerk

    January 21, 2010 at 9:25 am

    you are a horrible person who will die cold and alone.  The best part of it will be that it will be all your own fault.

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