There’s something about hearing the words “date night,” that make my skin crawl. Nothing will make me say no to an outing faster. You’d think hubs would learn by now that it’s not the best approach, but hey, we’ve only been together 15 years. It’s not that I don’t want to spend time with Hubs. It’s the amount of pressure and anxiety that mounts each time he looks at me with those hopeful eyes and the weight those words carry.
I don’t recall my parents having date nights. I know they went to cocktail parties and dinners at their friends’ houses, because I was often taken along. I have fond memories of drinking Shirley Temples and eating lime sections out of the bar fruit set ups. I know I had a babysitter, too, so they must have had some kind of date night. I should ask my mother. Mama’s always been social and loves a good event. She’d better, she planned them for ladies-don’t-say-big-numbers years. I know Daddy wasn’t much of one for all that unless he really liked you.
I suppose I’m a perfect combination of the two of them. I love planning events. I’m that woman spending hours on Pinterest the moment someone says birthday party. I get that from Mama. Event planning is in our blood. Miss O’s got it, too. The last birthday party her dolls had was Harry Potter themed and apparently their “room” was decorated like Hogwarts. I hope they liked it, because that’s Miss O’s theme this year (obvs, right?) and I had a hard time throttling back, as usual.
My father, on the other hand, for as charming as he was, and he was CHARMING, he would hem and haw like nobody’s business if Mama mentioned going somewhere. Looking back, it makes sense. When I worked at my parents’ conference planning business, I’d see him at conference events working the room like a pro. He was always exhausted afterwards. I figured he was just tired from having fun. Now that I’m about the age he was, and also far less excited about going out, I think he was completely drained. I think Daddy was more of an introvert than I realized. He may have had a touch of social anxiety, but don’t we all?
Now that I’m older, I feel the angst around having to be on display for everyone. Quick with a funny story or an interesting question. Engaging other people is work. Depending on the person it can be downright exhausting. I’m good with people, at least that’s what they keep telling me at work. Teaching people how to use software or helping someone figure out when to use one platform over another requires patience, humor and adaptability. That’s a lot of energy for an introvert like me. Especially when everyone thinks I’m a big ole extrovert standing in front of 40 people at a time delivering a 45-minute show. I’m here to tell you that for every 45-minutes of me up there spreading knowledge with a side of Dad-jokes, I spent weeks building that training. That includes the hour preceding the actual training where I have to take deep breaths and tell myself not to run out the front door screaming. It’s more than stage fright, it’s 100% straight anxiety.
For me, that pressure to perform is the same for Date Night as it is for training. The build-up in my head is the same. I usually like the people, that’s not the problem. It’s the performance. I have to figure out what I’ve got to wear. Hubs has learned surprises are out.
I need logistical information to plan this event so I can convince myself I have some level of control in this “surprise.” Lord help us if my week leading up to that night is stressful. My desire for fleece pants, chips with French onion dip and an orange Fanta at home will override any dinner and a movie outside of my front room you can throw at me.
Then there’s the content. Conversation when you’ve literally talking all week is almost too much to bear. There are times I’ve trained so much in one week, I’m convinced I’ll start asking random people questions about their comfort with certain online meeting platforms while I’m in line at the store.
Cashier: That’ll be $23.50
Me: On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the most, how comfortable do you feel in your knowledge of how to use that register?
It’s silly, really. I always enjoy myself. Whether we go out with our friends or go on our own, I always have a good time. Even on the adventures where we aren’t quite sure where we’re actually going or the restaurants where we cannot for the life of us find something we actually want to eat. We even manage to find things to talk about that are not work related. We’ve also gotten better about not talking about Miss O all night. I mean, she is part of our world, so how could we not talk about her. Sometimes you need a break, though.
I know that break is what Hubs is really asking for. He needs the physical separation from his everyday more than I do. He needs to get out and do things. I’m trying to get better about the hemming and hawing. I’m trying to make it less a part of my process. I do enjoy date night and have ever since we were blessed with that first glorious parents night out when Miss O was in daycare.
Maybe we can agree to call it something else so I don’t get triggered at the thought of spending an hour driving around looking for parking in downtown Boston. Maybe next time I’ll get a Shirley Temple and some limes.