When I was a young newlywed, I don’t remember such a thing as date night.
Nurse Judy, my ever young alter ego, is quick to remind me that I am so old I’ve probably just forgotten, but I disagree.
I may not be as sharp as I used to be, but I know for a fact there was no date night in my life at that time. There was no extra money for going on dates. Occasionally on an anniversary, we went out for a cheap dinner with the kids, but usually I cooked a little fancier dinner on those occasions and that was it. The same was true for all holidays and birthdays.
Today is a different time. My younger friends and relatives are always talking about the necessity of having at least a once a week date night without kids to preserve their marriage.
I feel I have missed a lot during my lifetime. I try to figure out how many dates I’ve missed, counting one date a week for over 60 years, but even my best mental acuity isn’t up to this mathematical problem. Still, I know I’ve missed a lot.
I can’t stop dwelling on this. I’m wondering how social distancing and closed restaurants have impacted the divorce rate. Surely date night could not have continued during this pandemic.
I quiz my young friends (yes, I do have some friends), and they say it is different but they still have date night. It takes place after the kids are in bed, when they have a lovely takeout candlelight dinner and then snuggle up on the couch and watch a movie.
I think about this. Heck, we could have handled that. Then I think about it a little more. We still wouldn’t have had money for takeout. By the time the kids were in bed, I was always frazzled and exhausted and my husband would be snoring on the couch. If I could have woken him, he would never have watched any chick-flick I liked and I would never have enjoyed his shoot ‘em up westerns. No, that wouldn’t have worked.
As time goes by and I keep getting older, I can’t stop thinking about all these dates I’ve missed. I am feeling very sorry for myself.
Yesterday, I was sitting by the window moping and watching the birds at the bird feeder. I noticed one particular bright red cardinal who came to the feeder, he got a seed and carried it to a much dowdier female who was sitting in a nearby bush.
At first I thought it must be his daughter, but she certainly was full grown, so I figured out it must be his wife. This depressed me even more. Even the birds had date night.
As I continued watching that cardinal fly back and forth feeding his mate, I began fantasizing about their life together. Mama Bird was probably exhausted after cleaning the nest, taking care of the kids all day as well as homeschooling them. She just wasn’t up to preparing dinner, so good old Dad Bird took her out.
I continued to watch the sweet scene going on before me when another cardinal swooped in.
Dad Bird dropped the seed he was carrying and went after this intruder. Feathers were flying as they swooped around each other. Then both flew off.
Obviously bird date night wasn’t saving this marriage. Mama waited patiently standing on one foot and then the other. Dad didn’t return. Finally Mama gave up, flew tiredly to the feeder, plopped herself down and just sat there and ate.
I feared she would put on weight and Dad (if he ever came back) would lose interest in her. After all, she wasn’t that attractive to start with. I felt sorry for her.
I opened the door and shouted, “Don’t worry, Mama. I never had a date night and he’s still around after 62 years. Just remember to go a little light on those sunflower seeds.”
Mama flew off, alarmed by this big human, who probably should have gone a little light on snacks herself, shouting out her front door. She turned her head back and gave me a little nod.
“What’s the moral of this story?” Nurse Judy asks me. “Is it ‘date nights are for the birds’?”
I think about this. I don’t know how Ms. Cardinal’s marriage worked out, but I had an epiphany.
“Women need to be able to take care of their own needs whatever life throws at them, and they don’t need a date night to preserve their marriage. It may enhance it but it isn’t a necessity,” I tell her.
“How did you come to this conclusion?” she asks.
“A little bird told me,” I say smugly.