The Great Date Debate

By: Shannon Ralph

Ruanita and I have the opportunity to go out on a date night this weekend. My mother has generously, and perhaps foolishly, volunteered to watch our three little darlings for us so we can get away for a bit. Though we are ecstatic beyond words about the prospect of some adult time, we now are faced with a difficult dilemma: whatever shall we do?

You would think this would be simple enough, right? The possibilities are endless. Two women out on the town. Kid-free and ready to live the high life. The problem is, however, any time we have the opportunity for a date night, we cannot come up with a single thing to do that is worthy of a free night of babysitting. Remember that old Seinfeld episode where Elaine’s contraceptive sponge was discontinued? She was screening all potential mates to decide if they were “sponge-worthy.” I feel the same way about a babysitter. With three children, people are not coming out of the woodwork to volunteer to babysit. Babysitters are so few and far between that I feel a night out must be phenomenally exceptional to be worthy of using up one of those rare opportunities. So that brings me back to that wrenching question. Whatever shall we do this weekend? What can we possibly do that qualifies as babysitter-worthy?

First and foremost, we have to eat. Dinner is an absolute must. The opportunity to eat without a single urchin begging for my food, curling up her nose to tell me my food stinks, or spilling milk on my plate is too good to pass up. So, we will definitely be eating dinner out. Where? I am not sure just yet, but the restaurant we choose most certainly must be one hundred percent absolutely not child-friendly. No chocolate milk. No murals of clowns on the walls. No roving “magicians” making balloon animals. We will be dining in a restaurant where not a single item on the menu comes in nugget form. And an extensive cocktail menu would be a nice perk.

After dinner, who knows? We debated going to a movie. It’s been quite a long time since we have seen a movie that did not include Cinderella’s castle in the opening credits. There are several movies out right now I would like to see. However, I will be brutally honest. Here is the embarrassing truth. Ruanita and I are both so tired most of the time that we truly have trouble staying awake to watch an entire movie in a theater. Seriously. I get my tummy nice and full of popcorn, a warm sweatshirt wrapped around me, and then they turn out the lights. It’s all over. I am snoring in no time. How embarrassing is that? So we may skip the movie.

It would be nice to see an outdoor concert. We’ve been to a few in the last couple of years that we have really enjoyed. However, the difficulty with a concert at the park or the lake lies with the insect population. The common mosquito is often referred to as the Minnesota state bird. Being the Land of 10,000 Lakes, Minnesota grows mosquitoes humungous and hearty. For the most part, they seem to ignore me. I may get an occasional irritating bite. My partner Ruanita, however, provides an irresistible feast for the little blood-suckers. An evening spent outside listening to music typically culminates in a week of allover itchy misery for her. So we may have to forgo that since we are at the peak of mosquito season right now.

Lately, our date nights have included a trip to Target. Pathetic, but true. It seems that there is always something we need to pick up at Target. Generally speaking, I am a huge fan of Target. Seriously, aside from a lounge chair on a tropical beach sucking down a pina colada, it is probably one of my very favorite places in the world to be. It is my Disneyland. Sad, but true. However, I don’t exactly feel that a trip to Target is babysitter-worthy. I am going to try my best to avoid Target this weekend. Of course, it may still suck us in. Target does have an inexplicable magnetic power.

So, what to do? What to do? We could go have drinks somewhere, but Ruanita doesn’t really drink anymore. And I’ve been told that drinking alone suggests a problem with alcohol. We could go to a club and do a little dancing. However, the club scene just makes me feel ancient. Plus, by the time anyone actually shows up at a bar, I am already yawning and dreaming of my bed. Hmmm…we could go hang out at a coffee shop. But Ruanita doesn’t drink coffee, and the music they pipe into those places will put me into a coma if it’s after 8pm. Ummm…we could go shopping. I love to shop and would do it any time of the day or night. Ruanita hates to shop, so that may not work. We could go to a casino. Play a few slots. Gorge ourselves on prime rib at the buffet. Hang out with the geriatric crowd. Then again, we may be old, but we are not quite that old. Yet.

So, this whole post begs the question, just how pathetic are Ruanita and I that we cannot come up with a single thing to do when stripped of our children for an evening?

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S Ralph

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