“I’ve booked a baby sitter for the night of your birthday. What would you like to do?”
I suppose the fact that my initial reaction to this was disbelief, followed by pre-emptive disappointment, mild dread and common-or-garden fear suggests that we’re out of practice at hanging out with each other outside of the well-formed rituals of post-dinner Scrabble or Buffy and Angel DVDs. It has, in fact, been about a year since we last tried “going out” as a couple when I dragged supermum off to see the Hold Steady. It wasn’t a successful night. Crowded, deafeningly loud and I spent of most of the evening worrying about whether supermum was enjoying herself. She wasn’t.
“Please,” she said, “No more gigs. Unless I get to sit down.”
We’ve fallen out of practice because of the baby-sitting problem. Even if I’m at home, little elf, who’s nearly four, goes completely doollally if supermum leaves the house in the evening. Leaving her with a stranger has been out of the question. We’ve tried exchanging baby sitting with friends but once they’ve done it for us, it’s literally very difficult to return the favour. “It’s okay, my mother’s doing it.” Or their sister. Or Aunt. We’ve tried begging (“No! Please! Use us! We need to get you back in our debt!”) but to no avail.
We do go out. Just not with each other. Supermum has evening life drawing and yoga classes she attends religiously, week-in, week-out. I also do a yoga class I manage most weeks. She periodically heads off on ‘mums’ nights out’ and she’s off doing a drawing class this afternoon. I’ll go and see bands (Wolves In The Throne Room next week!), sometimes even with other people. But I think we’ve both come to view time spent in a structured ‘date’ environment with each other with a certain amount of trepidation.
But now she’s found a babysitter who little elf (apparently) won’t attack on sight and we’re supposed to go out. We’ve talked about re-establishing a social life with each other and other people as a couple for ages but I suppose I’d kind of got used to the idea that we probably wouldn’t have to deal with this sort of thing for a while to come.
And I really don’t know what to do. Supermum isn’t working any more and she actually met me for lunch the other day. We spent most of it walking around whilst she vetoed every every cafe, restaurant or sandwich shop* within half a mile of my workplace (in Bloomsbury – that’s a lot of catering to dismiss) and we finished up mostly talking about how we didn’t really like the food we’d finally ended up with. Then we talked about vasectomies.
So, somehow, we’ve got to work out how to spend two hours ‘conversing’. It’s seems really silly, considering that we normally talk a lot, to splash out all this time and effort to put ourselves in an artificial situation where talking is actually more difficult. But there you go. It’s my birthday and we’re going to have ‘fun’. As a ‘couple’.
I want to go out together. We love each other, dammit! But just I’m too tired to get through the emotional labour involved in ‘fun’ at the moment.
* Supermum would put this very differently, viz “You only picked out places that you should have known I wouldn’t like.”**
** It’s possible she’d also put that differently too.