Lunch and a Flu Shot

Saturday is date night for my wife Kim and I. Kim is not her real name. I seldom use real names in my column in order to protect the innocent, the guilty, or the clueless. To be honest, we should call it date day instead of date night since we are usually home by five. There is seldom anything that occurs on a Saturday night that we are interested in going to. Loud crowded events are an anathema to us. If one were to take all of the internet advice as gospel, we should have divorced long ago instead of being together for forty-one years. If you Google “boring old married couples,” you’ll find our picture. And we are more than okay with that. One of the few things I am sure about when it comes to marriage is that as soon as you care about what other people think you are in trouble. We like boring. After twin careers in teaching and raising two boys, we’ve had enough excitement. Besides, she has three sisters so there is plenty of drama to spice things up if we want.

Last Saturday is a typical example. I teach downtown in the morning so she gets to sleep in. When I got home we discussed the traffic situation. On this particular day traffic was heavy so we stayed in Woodland Park. Although she grew up in L.A., or maybe because she learned to drive there, she hates being in dense traffic and we avoid it whenever possible. So it was off to one of our favorite restaurants, Casa Grande, and a leisurely lunch/ dinner. She always orders the same thing. I usually try something new. She samples what I order and if she likes it enough it will become her menu choice. I play point man for her gastronomical choices. We hang around for awhile after eating, taking time to catch up, make plans, and discuss issues. Then it was off to Wal-Mart to look at household items.

Unlike many men, I tag along with my wife when she is window shopping for decorating ideas. I learned the importance of doing this the hard way. Once I refused to help her pick out a shower curtain. It’s a shower curtain, I thought. Who cares? She picked out a peach colored one. Which then required redoing the shower tile to match. After that, the bathroom floor had to be redone, then the kitchen floor, the carpet, the window coverings, and then the living room furniture. What started as a $50 shower curtain turned into $20,000 worth of home improvements. I learned my lesson. Always help out with decorating. It’s cheaper in the long run.

So we spent about an hour browsing through house wares. Obviously, I don’t care about the things she looks at. Mostly, I try to find something interesting. Or try and look at her as if I am seeing her for the first time. That part is hard after 41 years. But it is worth the effort. She is still a beautiful woman both inside and out. Finally, I steer her into the pharmacy to get her flu shot. As teachers we have both had our share of colds and flu. There is a lot of nonsense floating around about vaccines in general and flu shots in particular. In this case, I don’t care what anybody else does. We learned the hard way that getting the flu shot makes for a better winter than not getting one. I get mine for free at work, but we have to make a special trip for hers. It cost $30 but it’s worth every penny. She often forgets about it so I make a point of taking her.

Afterwards, we stop at Andrews Candy Shop and pick up a treat to go along with the movie we watch when we get home. It takes about a half an hour to pick something from Netflix that we both are interested in. Then it is time for a snack and maybe some canoodling. All this probably sounds dreadfully monotonous to many people. Other couples we know go hiking, skiing, or clubbing for their date nights. If they have a date night. And once upon a time we engaged in more active pursuits. But as we have aged, we have come to prefer what some might call a rut; we call it relaxing. As introverts, we require both alone time for ourselves and our relationship. It’s not that we don’t find outside activities to enjoy together. It’s that we don’t need them to recharge ourselves and our marital bond.

Advice that works for one person or one couple is not necessarily right for others. Just as important is the fact that we all change over time. Therefore, our needs do as well. An aspect of any relationship succeeding is being fully present on a regular basis. Being there now. It’s a very difficult skill for many people to develop, especially male people. Kim found humor in our big night out. Lunch and a flu shot she called it. I call it taking care of ourselves. The rest of the world should do the same.