Date Night

 

Thursday night, Hubs and I had a ‘date night.’ A real date night out—not just one of our weekly, sit across from each other at the local pub, chew on burgers, and talk to the nice waitress more than we talked to each other. No, this was the whole enchilada: I was in full, ‘going-to-a-wedding’ makeup, and he wore something besides Levis, tennis shoes, and one of the free T-shirts he gets at baseball games. We decided a night like this was long overdue.

Okay—full disclosure—I decided it was long overdue, and he went along with it.

And the evening took a surprising turn.

First of all, let me set this up for you: Sometime before my last birthday, I started noticing that I can no longer drink more than half a glass of wine without it affecting me. Tequila I can still drink, thank god. But wine…I’m not exaggerating this in the least—if I drink a full glass of wine after, say, five o’clock in the afternoon, it hits me the way a triple shot espresso at 11 p.m. might hit other people. I’m wide awake until three a.m., contemplating things like, “Would I be happy living on Mars if they were actually able to colonize it? Isn’t it cold there?” and, “Gee, my cousins are sweet. They were so complimentary about these crown moldings when they came to visit. I never really thought about how nice these moldings are until they pointed it out. Look how the moonlight reflects on these moldings. Maybe I should paint them a different color. … What color should I paint them?”

As for Hubs, he can drink two glasses, no problem. He rarely goes for three, and if he does, he usually just gets mellower.

But, that’s not how things went on date night. Maybe it was the really tempting food, or the good service, maybe it was because we were both in such a great mood, the next thing I know, he orders a full bottle. A full bottle over a long, romantic meal should have been just right, really, but I had writing to do the next day, and I knew I just couldn’t have much if I wanted to be worth anything at all in the morning. So, Hubs drank almost all of it by himself. I didn’t notice that until the waiter took the empty bottle away. But what I did notice was that slowly, over the course of the evening, Hubs got more and more…chatty.

Yep. “Chatty” is the word, and in all the years of knowing this man, I’ve never used that word to describe him before. In fact, I can’t imagine anyone who knows him ever has. This is a person who gives you one-to-two-word answers when you ask him questions:

“How was dinner, hon?”
“Fine.”
“How did poker go?”
“Pretty good.”
“How was the game?”
“They lost.”

But, in four hours this past Thursday night, I learned more about my husband than I have since 2002. A plethora of things. And here is a random sampling of some of the things I learned:

* He loves raw onions. Loves them. Likes them chopped up in everything from chili to salad. But he never eats them when we’re in the same house together, because they make him gassy, and he just won’t subject me to the results of that. (For which I thanked him.)

* He would never hit a woman. The thought of any man hitting a woman makes him sick, and he would never do it. Never, never. But. If he could bring himself to do it just once, if he could get away with it just once, he would pop Ann Coulter right in that mean mouth of hers. Just—bam!—right in that mouth—because she’s so mean. “She’s mean, babe. She’s just mean. And cruel. And nasty. Don’t you think so, babe?” (I told him I did think so. But I kept it to myself that his wish to pop her one took me aback a little.)

* When he was a little boy, his mother used to make weird things. Weird things. He had no idea where she got these weird ideas. “One thing she made that was weird was this jello mold that she used to dump fruit cocktail in. Just like that—just open a can of fruit cocktail and dump it in. It was disgusting. It had pineapple in it. And cherries. They didn’t even taste like real pineapples or cherries. How did she think this was ‘dessert?'” (When I told him my mother used to make that too, he looked at me like we were fellow survivors of severe child abuse)

* He really wanted a castle. He loved the ones we saw in Scotland. Dougie, our tour guide, did such an amazing job of showing us around, and he was such a great guy too. Am I still on Facebook with him? “Ask him if he and his wife are coming back here any time soon. Ask him, babe. He’s a cool guy. I really like that couple. I really liked those castles. Of course, we can’t afford one now, since Trump is killing us with these ‘tax breaks.’ Did you know that 81% of the tax benefits of this new tax plan will go to 1% of the people? Did you know that, babe? But not us. We got screwed. He’s screwing over the farmers like crazy. But they’re still voting for him. God knows why. Except the soybean farmers. He gave the soybean farmers billions in handouts. God knows why. Where’s he gonna get that money, babe? Huh? Where’s he gonna get it? He’s gotta raise taxes. You bet he will. He loves money, that guy, but only for himself and his friends. Not for us. We got screwed. We always do. God knows why.”

By now, I was getting a little nervous. We were neck-deep in Trump territory. The restaurant wasn’t full, and his voice was starting to carry. I saw a man a few tables over give him a dirty look, and that man looked bulky. If that man had decided to come over and start something up, I wasn’t sure I could take the guy by myself, and Hubs, in his now diminished capacity, would be little help.

But when he said this next thing, that’s when I knew I had to figure out a way to get him to give up the keys, because it was worse than I thought. He was in no condition at all to drive us home. He leaned across the table, and whispered, “You know what? I love those little pink sneakers you bought. They look so cute on you. You have the cutest feet.”

Now, for many other woman, this would have been just an ordinary, sweet compliment. But, many other woman do not have my feet.

Don’t get me wrong—I’m happy with my feet. They work just fine. I can run, I can jump. I can find shoes that fit. But I’m 5′ 2″ and I wear a size 8 1/2 wide. My feet have scars on them from a childhood surgery. “Cutest” does not describe my feet. In fact, the first time a shoe salesperson sees them, their eyes start to bleed.

This is how I knew my husband was stinkin’ drunk. I managed to convince him to let me drive home, and he talked the whole way. Talk, talk, talk, talk, TALK.

And during that car ride, I realized two things:

1) I had longed for this for the entire time we’ve been together. “Why doesn’t he talk to me more? If only he would open up—express his feelings—tell me what he’s thinking—it would be so nice. It would bring us so much closer.”

and

2) The way he talked to me Thursday night is the way I talk to him every day. Every day of his life, for the past seventeen years, I have shared with him my every thought, wish, and feeling. I jump from topic to topic, just as he did—I tell him how writing went, what so-and-so said on Facebook, what was in the news that made me sad or mad, a funny meme I saw, how a friend of mine he doesn’t know from a hole in the wall is dealing with marital problems. I ask him a lot of questions: Has he heard from the boys? Did he speak to his mother this week? What did she say? How does she feel? Did he remember to send that email he was supposed to send? Does he need anything from the market, because I’m going to the post office and can stop on the way back…etc., etc. etc.

And now I want to know: How has he put up with that for seventeen years? How has he not told me to please, shut the hell up?

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