Monday, October 12, 2015

Parent Date Night. Yeah, that's funny

Please. For the love of God, call for help. She won't let us leave.
It was date night, the kind of night parents of young children think only happens in movies. That’s usually true. The genre? Fantasy.
The night didn’t come together easily. Much like readying a space launch, the preparation for parents to leave the house without the smaller versions of themselves takes months, a few hundred people, “Star Trek” technology and a minimum investment of $1 billion.
The idea for our date began with a startling statement.
Danilo Ilić (a fairly angry Bosinan Serb): “I’m bored. Hey, you want to go assassinate Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria?”
Gavrilo Princip (shrugging): “Sure.”
No, wait. That’s how World War I started. Our night began something like this:
“We should go on a date,” my wife said, catching me off guard because the words were as foreign as “je ne sais quoi,” which I totally do not have. Date? Dates are what the locals ate in old French Foreign Legion desert movies. I hardly knew how palm fruit applied to us.
“Sure,” I said. If I’ve learned anything about my wife it’s to agree with whatever she says, even if I don’t understand it, and tell her she looks nice. Otherwise I lay low.
A date night? Seriously? The science behinds date nights is simple. Parents have as much chance leaving the house alone as linear elements have adhering to Euclidean space – amiright?
… crickets …
… crickets …
Children saying good-bye. Before and after.
There are so many things parents have to take into consideration just to walk out the door it’s like mounting a military offensive every time we’re out of milk. Dates are a luxury. Parents aren’t like those crazy, devil-may-care singles that can step outside on a whim without a four-year-old clinging to their leg giggling, or screaming, or sobbing uncontrollably. Usually all of the above. Yes, all of the above can happen at the same time.
With that one statement (“We should go on a date”) in minutes the plans were set into motion. We were going to a place where we could hold hands without anyone smaller than us saying “eww” and we were going to enjoy ourselves if we still remembered how. My wife had spoken.
Date night checklist:
  Escape plan? Check.
  Restaurant that doesn’t serve French fries or include toys with a children’s meal? Check.
  Babysitter who doesn’t have a prison tattoo and is still brave enough to take care of our children? Check.
  At least intending not to run out the door laughing? Check.
Once the babysitter arrived we were out the door. And, yes, we were laughing.
It’s an interesting phenomena that when adults who’ve structured their entire communication system around explaining to their children “why,” once these adults are removed from the children they no longer know how to speak.
Sitting at the restaurant, smiling at each other over breadsticks, my wife produced a page she’d ripped from a magazine headlined, “Date Night Questions.” She’s always prepared. Good for her. If the night’s conversation were left to me I’d probably talk about something crazy like beer, or football. Or beer and football. Or order a beer at someplace where we could watch football.
“What country would you most like to visit?” she asked, leaning forward and looking at me in my eyes. My actual eyes. “And why?”
“England,” I said. “Because they speak English. It’s even in the title of the country.”
“Fine. Great effort,” she said. “How about this one? On a scale of one to 10, how cool are you?”
Her eyes glanced back to me, then to the magazine page, then to me again.
“You know, if we have to ask how cool we are, especially from a date night article out of a parenting magazine, chances are we’re not cool at all,” she said.
I knew I married this woman for a reason. She’s smart.
Oh, shit. This is how we got the kids in the first place.
Everything went smoothly from that point. We had drinks, food, drinks, fought the urge to talk about our children, made fun of the young couple eating next to us who obviously didn’t have children (they were discussing a movie that didn’t involve super heroes) and had more drinks.
When we got home, we still remembered our children’s names, but didn’t say them because they were asleep. Excellent.
My wife paid the babysitter, who then got on her Harley (actually a Yamaha scooter with an “I ª Trees” sticker on the front) and drove into the night undamaged. I’d expected to come home to discover the kids had tied the sitter to a chair that was for some reason on fire.
Maybe if my wife and I do this date thing enough we’ll eventually get good at it.

Jason's latest books, "A Funeral Story," and "How to Kill Monsters Using Common Household Items," are available at

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