When my Other Half pulls out a shirt from the dark, dusty depths of his Man Cupboard, I know I’m in for a rare treat. So rarely even caught sight of in fact, said shirt may as well be The Wedding Shirt for all the use it’s had over the past 10 years. Reserved for engagements, marriages, bar mitzvahs and funerals, The Shirt is clearly ear-marked for those extra special occasions, the ones that come around once in a blue moon. So when, just yesterday morning, my Beloved whipped out his crinkled, ever so slightly stained shirt, I knew Something Special (the adult version), was on the agenda. For last night was Date Night. Remember those days? When dating was a regular past-time and when Going Out was a casual, impromptu arrangement between two starry-eyed lovers with butterflies in their bellies. Nowadays however, there is no spontaneity in “Dates,” or “Nights” for that matter. There is no place for Ad or Hoc in our lives post-children. And the mere thought of leaving the coop for one night only is enough to give me palpations. Who will put up with the three tear-away Terror Tots overnight? Where will we go that is faraway enough to feel “distanced,” but close by enough to rush home should there be a problem? What should I wear that he hasn’t already seen a gazillion times? What will we talk about with no children for distraction? It seems that Date Night isn’t as simple as it used to be.
For Date Night these days has to be meticulously planned, often months in advance, with all sorts of preparations, arrangements and micro-schedules put into place. For example, first and foremost, what to do with the Terror Tots? If it is likely that the night is going to end well, in other words, a delightful meal followed by a couple of glasses of pink stuff and a few sweet nothings all before the clock strikes 12, then a babysitter can be employed and the children can stay home, still blissfully unaware that their Mummy and Daddy actually have a life (well…sometimes.) If however the night is likely to end badly, in other words, involving the consumption of copious amounts of alcohol, followed by vomit, a miserable night’s sleep and an almighty migraine the following day, then it is recommended that the children STAY WELL AWAY. Preferably for a period of at least 24 hours. Either that, or they will inevitably incur the wrath of The Wicked Witch of the North West and may find themselves on bread and water for the rest of the week. Or finally, if like me you are lucky enough to have a Travel Agent for a Better Half, then you may as well take advantage of exclusive Travel Agent Rates to expend on a dirty night, somewhere far away in a plush hotel, INCLUDING slap-up breakfast. Either way, Grandma really has no choice other than to dust off the travel cot, fill up the fridge and set Peppa Pig to auto-repeat if this is a last-ditch attempt to rekindle the dwindling flame of her daughter’s holy matrimony. And besides, what could be more exciting for the Tots than a sleep-over-including-midnight-feast at Granny’s? Well worth ditching Mummy and Daddy for at any rate.
So, as we skip off guilt-free into the sunset, next comes the question as to where on earth we are actually skipping off to? No pressure Love, but this Golden Ticket to Freedom is only on offer once every ten years or so, so it has to be spent wisely. Irritating and quite frankly pointless suggestions such as re-living the dream in Amsterdam, Barcelona and Prague abound, but being an overly neurotic Mother Hen, I prefer to count my chickens and stay somewhat closer to the nest. Anyway, how far can one go, relax, eat, drink, be merry and come back again in one piece within just 24 hours? Not very far indeed. So instead, it is quickly decided that any journey is too sodding far and a short two mile Uber ride to a city centre hotel will do the trick. Classy indeed.
And speaking off Class, any Date-worthy clothes I may once have painted the town red in, are now 10 years out-dated. Skirts are too short, trousers too flared and tops too cropped. More to the point, whose contorted, over stretched and sagging post-baby body is a fitting match for them anyway? And as I pull out and promptly reject every little black item out of my Wardrobe of Woe, I suddenly realise that perhaps where I’m going wrong is the lack of colour in my life. Everything I own is either black, grey or black again. Is it any bloody wonder he calls me The G.R ? Colour-matching aside however, this occasion might well be dress-up worthy in my eyes, but does He really care about which clutch-bag matches which heels? It may be the night-out of the decade for me, but let’s face it, he’s seen it all before and a whole lot more for that matter. And anyway, can someone who has witnessed your most unglamorous moments, EVER see past all of that and appreciate the superficial beauty of a sexy black bardot top and tapered trousers? Probably not.
Besides, whatever is there to talk about when the kids are suddenly not there and when you have the constant beep beeping of mobile phones for company? What discourse can one actually share that hasn’t been shared every single night over the dinner table, other than which pudding to pick? It’s becoming even clearer that Date Nights are far from simple. But fear not. Because actually Date Night is about so much more than where to go, what to wear and which dessert to share. As I discussed in my post of 4 years ago, Marriage Management, Date Night is a chance to remove ourselves from the rat-race. To renew and reinvigorate each other without distraction. To remember and reconnect to who we fell in love with. It is an amazing opportunity for two to become one again, even if just momentarily and even if The Spice Girls can take the credit for it. So when my Old Man stuffed the infamous Shirt into his overnight bag, I told him to remove it immediately. The Shirt doesn’t represent Him. The Shirt is not how I know him and it’s not how I love him. So why bother? And as I chucked out The Shirt, I chucked in some of my ever-faithful flats. Who needs heels when you’ve got Love?