Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine’s Day: musings on Date Night Disasters

You’d think that as a harried parent with no time for myself, I’d just be so grateful to have a chance to catch up with my husband that I wouldn’t care in the slightest where or how that happened. Interestingly, the fact that we rarely have the chance to get out has had the opposite effect, making me even more choosy about the particulars. This wouldn’t be a problem except that David feels exactly the same way and our preferences are diametrically opposed to each other.

David ‘s ideal night out takes place in a pub, or more precisely, a gastro-pub, where microbrews abound and well-reputed cuts of steak are served up rare. He likes there to be loud music involved. After a loud meal of beer and beef, he’d like to proceed to an art film, ideally in another language or in English, but with British accents so thick it might as well be another language. If it is not subtitled, or British, he’d like it to be science fiction or scary or four hours long.

My ideal night out takes place in a candle-lit restaurant with fantastic chandeliers overhead and coat check. Crusty bread served hot is non-negotiable and olives, pickles or olive oil with vinegar should accompany it. There should be wine, ideally sparkling. There should be music, but only enough to buffer the sound of what the couple sitting next to me are fighting about. It should be popular and bustling but not so much that I have to wait over thirty minutes. Goat cheese must be a core ingredient on at least one appetizer and chocolate ganache should be featured on at least one dessert.

Movie selections should be two hours or less, ideally featuring actors up for an Oscar, They can be tragic but always with an uplifting ending. If anyone has sex, they should be good-looking. No sci fi, horror, suspense, or subtitles, apart form Almodovar or movies featuring that hot young actor Gael Garcia. No movies where children get kidnapped, sick or worse. No movies where anything takes place in the future.

As you see, it is nearly impossible for David and I to settle on a night out which satisfies both our needs. Sometimes we just stay in, if you get my meaning, and that works well, but then we get hungry and then we’re back to square one.

A few weeks ago, we had a disastrous date which involved dinner at Jimmy’s No. 43, on 8th Street, which was mobbed with NYU students shouting about inane things and jostling me as I waited FORTY FIVE FREAKING minutes for a table. Then we saw the new Mike Leigh movie, Another Year, which rendered me miserable and melancholy all night. First of all, how many freaking cups of tea can a person drink? And how many cups of tea am I, a paying moviegover, expecting to WATCH someone drink? I wonder, too, if Mike Leigh’s intent as a film maker is to have his audience off themselves upon leaving the theater? Why else would he create a movie in which nothing funny, promising or even generally positive happens? If I am going to watch people sink into abject misery and loneliness for two hours, they’d better be gorgeous Hollywood types, otherwise the whole thing is just too unbearable.

This is what I told David on the way home from date night.

“Next time, you choose EVERYTHING,” he grumbled.

So I did, and for our early Valentine’s Day celebration, we went to Buttermilk Channel, where you get four different kind of pickles and a chocolate pecan pie sundae in addition to a kick-ass rib eye and chocolate stouts for my beer-and-beef beau-hunk of a husband. Then we saw the King’s Speech where I could understand every single word and I only counted TWO kettles of tea being made. Brilliant underdog overcomes adversity! Now that’s a movie I can get behind, especially when it’s so well-acted I don’t have to feel guilty about being so irredeemably mainstream. Even David had to concede he felt pretty damn cheerful when the credits rolled.

And since my parents took the kids overnight, we got to sleep in until a delicious 9am the next morning and then we got to stay in bed til, oh, about half past ten.

I’m sure it won’t happen every year, but it was one Valentine’s Day celebration sans argument which is enough of a present for me. That, and the heart-shaped box of chocolates I sincerely hope David is bringing home for me.