6 p.m.: Date night officially starts in 45 minutes. Plop Trader Joe’s pizza in front of kids, plop kids in front of television, and sprint to shower. Husband is already in shower. Yell, “Are you almost done?” He yells back, “Just got in.”
6:08 p.m.: Husband still hogging shower. Turn on sink water to brush teeth, causing him to squeal as shower water turns scalding hot. Say innocently, “Oops.” “You did that on purpose,” he accuses. Date Night not off to rip-roaring romantic start.
6:17 p.m.: Ask husband to get the kids some juice. “What kind?” he asks. Impatiently bark, “What do you think? That they’ve suddenly started swigging pomegranate juice or apricot nectar?” He responds huffily, “No need to be sarcastic,” as he gets the lemonade. Date night still sorely lacking romantic ambiance.
6:18 p.m.: Finally in shower. Only available shampoo features a Muppet on the bottle.
6:25 p.m.: Search for Date Night-worthy clothes (note to self: must go shopping. Also embark upon effective cardiovascular routine. And, possibly, eat less chocolate.). Cool wide-legged jeans are in embarrassingly-high pile of dirty laundry. Make swift executive decision: They’re not THAT dirty.
6:40 p.m.: Sitter is 10 minutes late. Loudly berate untrustworthy sitter to husband. Lament not using friendly neighborhood teenagers instead of irresponsible new sitter.
6:41 p.m.: Stop ranting when you hear the voice of the new sitter downstairs. Apparently children have let the sitter inside. Pray sitter has bad hearing; decide to slip her an extra $20 to be safe.
6:45 p.m.: Check clothing for stuck-on laffy-taffys (found strawberry-flavored one clinging to shoe last week), meekly hang head so as to avoid looking sitter in the eyes, head outside and climb into romantic Date Night vehicle (filthy minivan accented with mildewing sippy cups).
7:30 p.m.: Wait at bar for table at Tex-Mex joint. Eat entire basket full of chips and salsa. Feel nauseous when table is finally ready.
7:45 p.m.: Order frozen margarita and sangria combo drink (“swirlie”). Put down menus and look at husband, who looks as tired as you feel. Remember Date Night rules include moratorium on discussing the children. Realize you can come up with nothing else to talk about at this precise moment.
8 p.m.: Order another swirlie.
8:15 p.m.: Hey! Husband is looking better and better.
8:45 p.m.: Secretly want to go home and sleep off buzz from one-and-a-half swirlies, but it is Date Night, after all. Must make effort or relationship will grow stale. Glance around and pity the parents whose kids are tearing up restaurant; try not to dwell on the fact that next time you’ll be the poor sucker struggling to keep your kid from taking a ride on the swirlie machine.
9:05 p.m.: Debate going to movie, but it gets out too late and you’ll be exhausted when your children spring out of bed at 7 a.m. Feel old.
9:15 p.m.: Gossip about the teeny-boppers hanging out in packs outside the movie theater. The girls all have on eye make up and tight clothes; the boys look about 10. Feel older.
10:15 p.m.: Stop at bank to take out loan to pay sitter (ranting about how you used to get 75 cents an hour when you baby-sat, but making sure to confine your rant to the car so sitter cannot possibly overhear you).
10:35 p.m.: Laugh with husband about how different things used to be: Remember the time you went to Paris on a whim for a romantic weekend? Remember how you used to toss back two swirlies before the night even began?
10:45 p.m.: Discover three little boys asleep in the romantic marital bed. Their long eyelashes are resting on their cheeks; their little bodies are in soft pajamas.
10:46 p.m. Realize you wouldn’t have it any other way.