We are going on a date. I can never decide if Date Night is a modern marriage concept or just a modern twist on what used to be called “Take the Wife Out to Dinner.” The fact that we, a couple who has no children, eats out more often than we eat at home, and spends most of our waking hours (and all of our sleeping ones) in close proximity need a date night seems like a modern twist indeed. But, if there’s one thing we have learned, two people can be sitting right next to each other and not actually be together at all.
We have decided that we will go to an early movie and have dinner afterwards because I have the problem that I have trained myself to go to sleep when I watch TV and this has now carried over to movies. Unfortunately, when I get out my Fandango app and check out what’s playing, the movie we both want to see–George Clooney’s latest, The Ides of March–has early shows too early for us to make. But, the next showing is at 8:30PM, so we decide we have time to make dinner at home and then walk over to the theater. I’m hoping the brisk walk on a cool night will help wake me up after eating, too.
We cook dinner together. This happens every once in a while. Pat gets tired of doing all the cooking and I occasionally take pity on him and help out. Although, I think we’ve been averaging less than 2 dinners a week at home lately; I’m not sure how much of a break Pat needs. But, it’s date night, so we cook together. And it’s nice, although we sometimes struggle to stay out of each other’s way. Funny thing about a kitchen–even though our current kitchen has about 2x the space of the kitchen in the house we rented between selling our house and moving here, we still both end up needing to get to the same corner all the time. But, we are in a playful mood and have fun with bumping into each other and turning it into an act of affection rather than one of annoyance. It never ceases to amaze me how the exact same action can have so many different intentions and interpretations.
Once we are well fed, we now have too much time before the theater to go straight there, but too little time to hang out here and start anything else. So, we decide to walk over early and get our tickets and then grab a beer at a local pub if there’s enough time. We head out and take the shortest route now that we have a plan to get a beer before the movie. We stop in and buy our tickets and then walk back a block to Big River Grille, where I met Clyde the previous weekend when I went out to dinner by myself there. Clyde is not there tonight, so I cannot introduce him to Pat, but the same bar tender is there and he recognizes me, making me feel like a local. We each order a pint and sit and drink it while we talk.
It’s a little hard to talk in the bar. It’s noisy and crowded with people waiting for tables as well as those who have given up on getting a table and are eating at the bar. Plus, one of the challenges of spending a lot of time with someone is that there often isn’t much left to discuss on date night. Pat has been back in town for 4 days. We’ve caught up and experienced most things together ever since. He knows I worked late every night this week and that I’m stressed about work–my office is in the living room. It’s hard for him to miss how long I work. And he can tell when I’m stressed by the way I’m breathing (or not). I’ve already shared my frustrations with him.
As a result, we now sit in the bar with not much new to say. Pat’s already told me about his week, too. We alight on beer as a good topic given that Big River Grille is a brewery as well as a restaurant and bar and we are drinking some of their brews. I wish I could say that they’re a local, family owned business, but they’re actually a small brand in a larger restaurant company that owns about 5 or 6 different chains. We generally try to avoid chains, but every once in a while, it’s just convenient. I am drinking their Oktoberfest brew, which is good, although a little subtler than my usual fare. Pat is trying their pilsner, which he does not believe is actually pilsner. He drinks it anyway and even enjoys it once he stops expecting it to taste like a pilsner. Before we know it, we need to return to the theater and I have yet to finish my beer. I don’t enjoy chugging beer and I have nearly half my pint left. I decide to take a couple more swigs and then leave the rest. It makes me sad to leave behind an unfinished beer.
When we get to the theater, we realize that we could have stayed so I could finish my beer at a reasonable pace–there are 25 minutes of ads and previews before the movie starts. I try to remember the last time I saw a movie in a theater where there weren’t any ads except maybe for the theater’s snack counter. When the movie finally starts, I’m already getting sleepy. I make it through the first 30 minutes and then the rest of the time it’s a painful effort to keep my eyes open and my chin keeps hitting my chest. When the movie is over, I’ve lost the entire thread and have no idea what happened. Pat fills in a few blanks for me, but says it wasn’t just me, the movie was pretty slow. I feel bad for falling asleep on George, although it’s not the first time.
As we cross back over the river, the wind has picked up and I am wide awake now. We hold hands and I walk close to Pat, shielding myself from the wind and trying to share some body heat. I have the funny sensation of a split screen of our date night. There is the experience that it is: uneventful, predictable, reliable, and relaxing. Then there is the experience that I somehow feel it’s supposed to be: exciting, wild, fun, and energizing. Oddly, so many times in life I’ve been out with people doing things that were supposedly exciting, wild, fun, and energizing but I still felt bored. I suddenly have a strong sensation that it doesn’t matter what we do, it all comes down to the story that we make from it. This thought threatens to depress me. I turn my attention back to Pat and concentrate on being with him and letting that be the story for tonight.