Issue 39

Hot Date II


                 Have you ever had one of those moments where you wonder what you would do if you had the chance to do something over again?

                Saturday we continued work on our backyard.  I think the only thing that kept us going was that we would have Sunday off.  At 7pm we put Skylar’s handprints in setting concrete and sent the workers home.  As I washed his hands at the kitchen sink, Rebecca said, “Want to go on a hot date?”

                My first impulse was to say, “I don’t think we can afford another hot date.”  Fortunately my male hormones took over and instead I said, “Maybe Neil and Kylin can watch Skylar.”

                 Kylin is the other mom in our friend group.  “Of course we’ll watch him,” says Kylin over the phone, her own baby talking in the background.  “When will you be here?”

                 “Um, soon,” I said.  (We had already cleaned ourselves up and were calling from the car phone, parked right outside her house.)

                 Moments Kylin took Skylar from Rebecca and asked, “So where are you going to eat?”  I begin to explain to her that we haven’t thought that far ahead when Skylar breaks into a fit.  “Go,” says Kylin.  “We’ll take care of him.  Have fun.”

                And she pushes us out her front door.  I can hear Skylar screaming at the top of his lungs.  As I walk to the car, I revel in the delicious guilt that someone else has to deal with him.  “I’m beginning to understand the attraction of baby-swapping,” I tell Rebecca.

                 “So where shall we eat?” Rebecca asks, getting into the car.  Her question brings me back to high school when we would spend hours driving around trying to figure out where we were going to eat.  “We can eat anywhere you want,” I tell her.  And, tonight, it is true.

                “How about that place…” she begins.

                “That place is noisy.  You just want to be around kids, don’t you?” I accuse her.  But it’s not true.  She doesn’t want to be around kids.  It’s just it’s been so long since we’ve been to a place that you can’t bring children we don’t remember any of them.  “How about barbecue?”

                And then we both know it’s got to be Bobby’s Backdoor Barbecue, a hole-in-the-wall that the neighborhood once tried to shut down because you can smell the food three blocks away.  Bobby’s is great.  You go in through the back, order your food, and then take it into the bar to pick up a beer.  As we wait on line, we talk with all of the other BBQ fiends.

                “Everett and Jones’ place is chintzy,” says Rebecca.

                “I ordered there once,” a lady says.  “I said, what is this, the child’s plate?”

                Rebecca and I split the two-way combo, links and beef strips, hot sauce on the side.  She shows me how to make a BBQ sandwich by spreading potato salad on the flimsy “wheat” bread and then piling on the meat.  For a blissful moment, I forget what it is like to be a parent.  We are a childless couple again, enjoying each other without a responsibility to anyone else in the world.  Of course, making this realization instantly reminds that I have a child and thus terminates the moment.  But it leaves a delicious taste in my mouth, touched with molasses.

                A good dose of BBQ usually results in food coma. Topped with ice cream and confirmation that there isn’t a single movie out that we want to see, snuggling in bed starts to sound quite fine.  I think I even caught Rebecca snoring at the ice cream parlor table.  It’s been a long week. The need to stay up till dawn is, well, just a memory.

                We get back in the car and the digital clock reads 9:17.

                “We can’t pick up Skylar right now,” I tell Rebecca.  “Neil and Kylin are going to laugh at us.”

                 “Why don’t we nap in the car for a few hours and then pick him up?” suggests Rebecca.

                 “Do you think they’d noticed if we just left him there all night?” I say.

                 Rebecca thinks about it.  “We could stop by in the morning, hair dishelved, wrinkled clothes, and just tell them we haven’t been to bed yet.”

                “I think they’ve already tried that one on us,” I tell her.

                The light is on in their house as we pull up.  “We could sneak in through the back,” I say, but we both know that will take too much energy.

                Rebecca starts to laugh, and then I join her.

                “Oh, we are pathetic,” she says, wiping away a tear of laughter.  Her statement makes we wonder.  Are we pathetic because we can’t even pull off dinner and a movie anymore?  Or is it because our hot date really started a week ago with the first shovel into the ground?

                Such is love.


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