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My guy had just dumped me, and my weed man’s baby mama had convinced him to move downstate and become a barber. My smoking buddy began searching for a new guy, this neighborhood weed dealer who had the good good. I committed to change. Maybe the weed thing was keeping me from love. I’d get a new man, be a new me. I smoked the last of my stash and pledged to buy no more.

Soon, I met him—tall, dark, and handsome. Thirtysomething, he lived with his mom. She needed him, he said. He pressed T-shirts at a kiosk in the mall—a fashion designer, really. He was recently released from jail; he paid his debt . . . likely. His number was easy to remember; the last four digits were 9333.

All systems said no from the start. When he found out I’d just been dumped, he whooped, “Rebound!” Like heartbreak was a Bulls game, and he’d come off the free throw line. He asked where I wanted to go on our date. I said the museum. He had to clarify: “You mean, inside the museum?”

We walked to Potbelly’s for a shake, then to the lake. The trek to the Point was unremarkable. We settled on a rock, overlooking the waves. He rolled a blunt. Well, technically, I’d only given up buying.

I was unnerved by two men in suitshirts watching us. Everything about their comportment read they were clocking my guy but letting this slide so as not to cockblock. CPD are conscientious that way.

He trashed his ex. She’d stood by him during his time, wrote letters, put money on his books. How dare she develop expectations? After he moved in with her, she asked if he planned to marry her. His response— “I have no job and just got out of jail. You really think I’m marriage material?”

Walking home, we passed a yard sale. He offered to buy me anything. I declined. He bought a vase he thought he might give his mom.

As we rounded the corner for home, who should we run into? My smoking buddy. “You don’t answer your phone?” she demanded.

“Me?” I asked.


He shrugged. “You want to do this, now?” I looked, quizzically. “My number?” He smiled, “9333? Spells weed?”

I ran into him at Hyde Park Produce a month later. He shouted across the parking lot, “Why haven’t you called?”

I held up my ring finger and shouted back, “I’m looking for marriage material.”