James was cute. I liked his confidence, his sleepy-eyed charm – his adultness. This here was no boy, and I liked that.

He looked so good the night of the dance. I was shy and awkward, but compensated by being just a little bit slutty. I’d like to say I was a bold, confident young woman going for what she wanted, but I think slutty would be more accurate. Such a fine line there. It’s hard to get the balance right. Err on the side of caution and you’ll die a shrivelled old maid. Err on the side of Cosmo and you might just die a whole lot sooner, shrivelling and oozing optional. Yuck.

We danced and we laughed, we spoke about Steven, we kissed. Alright, I kissed him. He was a little taken aback, but dammit, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. Can’t be hanging around forever waiting for demure, gentlemanly types to get their act together. Carpe Diem and all that, right? More like Carpe My Only Chance Of Getting Laid Anytime Before Menopause!

I had a lovely time, and after much deliberation, I saw him again the following night. A late Valentine rose was delivered to my house with a card that read, “Would you be my Valentine? Love, James”.


As it turned out, I would certainly be his Valentine. Within a few weeks, I was his girlfriend, too.

Scary stuff, considering Steven. But the two of them clicked immediately. James accepted Steven completely and that nasty boyfriend vs child tug-of-war never happened. He came to love Steven as his own child. That sort of thing doesn’t come around very often and I was lucky that my first, tentative foray into dating as a single mother was with someone like him. He was just what I needed then – a family man with a five-year-plan. He was reliable and responsible – a nice young man whom I could happily take home to Mom. Like me, he wanted the white picket fence and a happy family (possibly, I suspect, the Stepford wife, too, but that’s a whole different chapter). He showed me what was possible for me, and I’m grateful for that.

Unfortunately, he also ruined me for future relationships. Ever since, I’ve compared my boyfriends’ interaction with Steven with his, and they always seem to come up short. So far.