For the last couple of weeks we’ve been making an effort to try to do fun things outside of our day-in day-out hilarity. We do actually laugh a lot. A lot. But we also spend a lot of time taking care of the baby and little else. Unfortunately, no one has dropped by to award us a lot of money. I don’t know what’s taking them so long.
That said, babysitting once a week is more than we could possibly afford. Also, given that we live with a child who continues to treat strangers with a reticence best reserved for cobras and folks taking bath salts, having a once-a-month babysitter is unlikely to be relaxing. We do have a couple of family friends who are willing to come spend time with her, so we’ve been relying on that for now. Eventually, I’d love to have a college or high school kid as a regular babysitter – it was an important part of my own growing up.
Since we don’t like to impose on our friends often, we don’t have a date night. Luckily, I feel fortunate that even having leftover spaghetti with my wife is still sort of a date. We like to bump knees. We like to talk about fun stuff. I always feel a little like she’s dating me and that makes me forget that we could use a night out now and again. But, no money for a babysitter, no money for dinner and a movie. At least, not very often.
Enter a jar of dates. I filled a mason jar with crumpled up balls of paper each with a date idea written on it. I pulled these from internet lists and eliminated any suggestions I thought too out of our reach (hot air ballooning) or not our cup of tea (soup kitchen). I think there are 50 or so and we’ve been drawing out of the jar once a week for that last couple of weeks.
I tried to make sure we had a heavy mix of dates that could be done at home and ones that would require going out so that we didn’t need to worry too much about the babysitter situation. So far I’ve had a lot of fun. We played cards one night after the baby went to bed (winner – me – deposits one new date idea into the jar). Not turning on the television, retreating into a book or checking email was nice. Another day we stopped by some tiny nearby shops to pick up a box of chocolate, some bread, cheese and fruit on the way home from work. We tried cheese at the cheese counter which was fun and completely new to me. I love that my wife is bold and willing to ask the cheese guy what to consider getting. Since our favorite dinner hands-down is peasant dinner (bead, cheese, apples, cold chicken), this was a nice upgrade. We shared a little of everything, except our chocolates, with RR. Yum.
On Saturday, a friend watched RR for an hour while we went to a local thrift shop with $10 apiece to buy each other a gift. I bought her an old, broken-down map of our county and she got me some boards to grill cheese on (I have no idea how this works). To be fair, the instructions were to buy a “crazy gift” which she totally did. And I swear it was my intention until I found the map for her which I thought she’d surely like. It was delightful to get away for an hour and we came home to a mellow kid who basically pretended that she was alone for an hour, diligently ignoring her “uncle.” Nice.
This week’s event is less suitable for conversation but involves, in part, virtually going to a nice restaurant in town. I’m as excited to pick things from the menu as I would be to actually go, I think. We got a book more than ten years ago from the bargain bin of a bookstore called The Great American Sex Diet: (wait for it…) Where the Only Thing That You Nibble On is Your Partner! by Laura Corn. I promise, I’m going somewhere with this. This has absolutely nothing to do with a diet in the ordinary sense of the word. Food and exercise are only mentioned as toys. While there were plenty of the same sorts of tips in there that you could find in any mainstream magazine, she did have emphasize that one of the most important parts of the Corn Diet (corny, yes) was anticipation. She recommended marking get-down dates (my words, also corny) on the calendar and looking forward to them. It applies to non-sexy situations as well. Looking forward to the one night each week that we’re doing something different with each other is fun.
I have no recollection of what else is in that jar and so I’m eagerly looking forward to the rest of the dates, even though they don’t always involve going out at night. “Date” “Night,” indeed.