Date nights are rare in my world -- so rare that they have become a tad mythological. Sure, people claim there are unicorns walking through the woods having tea parties with Bigfoot. But have you ever seen it happen in person? That's how I feel about dinner and a movie.
A few friends of mine fill their Facebook news feeds with fancy dinners out, museum galas and art show openings. They grade the newest blockbuster and raid the newest ice cream parlor. Their young children, though very present on their feeds, are notably absent from these evenings of extravagance. However, these friends of mine don't live in my town, so I have never seen one of these mythological date nights. (Not that I would have been out of my house to witness the unicorn or art gallery opening anyhow.) So who is to say they actually exist? It could be a bit of Photoshop magic. Perhaps the children, rendered tiny against a mom's 4-foot stilettos, are unseen in the photos but are actually there, tugging on the parents' ankles. Perhaps the children are the photographers. Surely, not every picture can be a selfie. Actually, I take the selfie part back.
The mythological date night sometimes filled me with hope and sometimes filled me with pain. I wanted to believe. So desperately. But I just couldn't see how it was possible. Please, centaur, show me a sign! Could it be a real thing?
My brother -- a constant viewer of anime, reader of fantasy and skimmer of comic books (and therefore, in my mind, a believer in the mythological) -- took the holiday season to prove that something as unseen as Santa could exist. If only we dared to believe.
He bought my husband and me tickets to a drink-and-paint night out. I had never been, but my Facebook feed, the same one filled with photos of child-rearing friends having date nights, was equally filled with photos of my girlfriends looking flush and tipsy on both prosecco and pride as they held up matching painted canvases from a class they had taken together. I'm no artist. In fact, some would venture to say I'm a terrible artist. But the idea of a night on the town with my beau was unbelievably exciting.
I pictured us, side by side, laughing at each other's terrible brushstroke, playfully taking a blob of paint and swiping it over the other's picture of a barn. Not that it would matter; the paint would dry, and we could paint right on over it. In fact, nothing mattered here in mythological date land. We'd spill beer on the table and use it to wet our brushes. We'd chat with the other couples around us, asking how they, too, found the secret back-of-the-wardrobe entrance into this unseen land of date nights. We'd smile for photos and say such things as "golly gee." And the baby sitter would tell us to stay out until sunrise, and we wouldn't have work the next day, and our kids would sleep in and make us breakfast in bedthenextdayand...
I may have been getting a little carried away.
I booked the baby sitter for a Tuesday night. Then I looked on the paint place's website. Tuesday night, we would be painting donkeys. I had to laugh. Not that I planned to hang my painting on the wall, but a donkey? Who wants a picture of a donkey?
Then I remembered that my husband's favorite animal is the donkey. And I remembered that he fell in love with the donkey when we were riding them through the Valley of the Kings in Egypt on our honeymoon. My heart melted. It was all so perfect. We would ride memory lane to the mythological place of date nights. A night about us. A night with no children.
Or so I thought.
"Who wants to paint donkeys?" I had asked. Children. Children want to paint donkeys. Instead of toasting our fellow date night couples, we got side-eyed by parents as we sipped our beer from miniature Dixie cups. Kids ran around us, screaming, laughing, defying, destroying what was supposed to be date night.
When we left, I felt so deflated. Perhaps a truly romantic date night sans kids (anyone's kids) was a myth. My husband said we could still go get a drink, enjoy the night. I perked up.
Then the baby sitter called. With a fever.
Katiedid Langrock is author of the book "Stop Farting in the Pyramids," available at http://www.creators.com/books/stop-farting-in-the-pyramids. Like Katiedid Langrock on Facebook, at http://www.facebook.com/katiedidhumor. To find out more about her and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.