Stimey and Alex’s Night Out

Alex and I went out for Valentine’s Day last night, which is kind of unusual for us. Normally we celebrate the day by doing things like hurling epithets at each other from across the kitchen, but my mom is in town and offered (and by “offered,” I mean, “I assumed she would be willing, so made plans without asking her”) to babysit, so Alex and I went to dinner at a French restaurant.

Because the restaurant we Alex chose is two blocks from Alex’s office, I drove into DC all by myself. I think you might realize how risky this is after my last evening foray into DC, when I ended up on the wrong side of the National Mall. I was a little sketchy on leaving my kids with my mom because two of them were sick (Jack = fever and flu; Quinn = barfing in his classroom…my car…near the toilet…on the kitchen floor), but armed with the knowledge that Alex would murder me if I canceled, I headed out into the night at the exact time Alex told me to leave the house.

Ten minutes into my drive, my mom called to tell me that the smoke in the kitchen had set off the house alarm system and that the alarm company needed to know my safe word so that the fire engines wouldn’t come to our house.

This concerned me for several reasons.

1. Our alarm system doesn’t go off when the kitchen is smoky. Trust me, I know.

2. What was so smoky that it made alarms go off? Should fire engines be dispatched?

3. My mom used the words “tore the thing off the wall,” which, while not unheard of for my family, can’t be good for the alarm system.

My house was still standing when I returned home, and my kids haven’t told me any fun stories of The Night the Firefighters Came to the House, so I assume she worked it all out.

I was distracted by the whole alarm/smoke/emergency vehicles debacle happening at home by Alex calling to see where in my journey I was. Even though I had followed his directions to a tee, he was distressed about my location and therefore my prospects for arriving at the restaurant in time for our reservation.

I am a person that doesn’t like to be late and who can get extremely freaked out if I feel like I will be late, but I hadn’t been stressed at all about time until Alex called…and continued to call every 5-10 minutes until I arrived at the address he had given me. Unfortunately, I was about five minutes later than I would have been otherwise, because even with my hands-free phone system, I was still agitated enough to make a wrong turn that took several corrections for me to get back on course.

Also, he gave me the wrong address, so there was that.

By the time I arrived, Alex had wine and a smile waiting for me, so I forgave him, insomuch as I forgive Alex and he forgives me in our marriage, which is sustained by a crunchy undertow of hostility and anger, cushioned by fluffy clouds of passive-aggressive love and amusement. It works for us.

I know yesterday I was all, “What if my aversive perseveration on lamb brains and snails makes me accidentally order them?” I shouldn’t have worried though, because the regular (lamb brain) menu wasn’t available, replaced instead by a special valentine menu, which I believe was supposed to be fancy because it was written in hard-to-read handwriting.

Once deciphered, the menu items were all very complicated (if brains-free). There were a lot of things that were served with, like, kumquat-cherry pudding and whatnot. (I’m making that up, but it’s close.) I did wonder something about one menu item in particular, however:

 How do they know the chicken is Amish?

I didn’t order the chicken, so I’ll never know the answer to this, but in my head, this is what he looked like:

That poor, doomed chicken should never have come back from rumspringa.

There was a lot of duck on the menu, but they didn’t specify the duck’s religious or cultural background. I’m not sure, but I think my steak was Episcopalian.

Also? My date was very tolerant.

I’m resisting the urge to Photoshop a hat and beard onto him.

There are very few people in this world who would be willing to live with me for an extended period of time. I feel very fortunate that I am married to one of them. Dinner was lovely, Alex. Happy Valentine’s Day to you, sir.

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