Photo credit: Nola Lopez, NYT
"Rather than visiting the same familiar haunts and dining with the same old friends, couples need to tailor their date nights around new and different activities that they both enjoy. The goal is to find ways to keep injecting novelty into the relationship, according to social psychology professor Arthur Aron of SUNY at Stony Brook.
Why? Because, for the first time in a long time, we had zero plans. Zero obligations.
On Friday night I had a whole delicious healthy dinner planned. Soba noodles with Chinese vegetables, teriyaki tempeh, all dressed in a spicy peanut sauce.
Never happened. At 6:30 p.m. I hadn't even started to make dinner. I said to my husband, who was reading the newspaper on the porch, "Hey, you want to go see "State of Play"---that Russell Crowe newspaper-political-something-or-other-movie-that's-supposed-to-be-good?"
Husband: "Sure. What time does it start?"
Me: "In 35 minutes. But what about dinner?"
Husband: "Hey, I've been snacking. I'm not even hungry. I can skip it."
Me: "OK, then I'll just grab one of those lentil dal burgers in the fridge. I can be ready to go in 10 minutes!"
And off we went. The first stop on the perfect date weekend. And by the way--this movie had us on the edge of our seats. Much better than the reviews would have you believe. And that's the value of no expectations.
Oh it was a lazy day. We had only the tiniest germ of an idea for a "possible plan" for the day--but for it to happen, the weather needed to turn ugly. And we had to feel like getting ourselves in gear to head out of the house by 3:15 pm. Who needed that kind of pressure on a free weekend?
So, here was our "maybe plan":
Go to a reading of a "new play" (not a play--but a reading) called, "U.S. v. Howard Mechanic" by Faye Sholiton. It was a one-time event--part of a theater festival.
WHY WERE WE INTERESTED IN A PLAY ABOUT SOMEONE NAMED HOWARD MECHANIC?
Here's the long story short
He lived as a fugitive, undercover, with a made-up identity--as Gary Tredway--having only secret contact with his family. But he blew his own cover in an interview with a newspaper reporter in 2000 when he decided to run for city council in Scottsdale, AZ. Ever the political activist, he had earned the reputation of Scottsdale's "watchdog".
He ended up in jail--sentenced to serve 5 years. After serving one year in prison, his sentence was commuted in the final hours of Bill Clinton's presidency--and in the end, evidence proved he was completely innocent.
Howard Mechanic lived next door to my husband when they were kids. When the weather was good they played basketball every night in the school yard across the street. They were both stamp collectors as kids--trading postage stamps. But in 1970 Howard--his brilliant older neighborhood friend--just disappeared off the face of the earth. My husband was 20 years old at the time. Howard was 22.
If you have any interest, you can read the whole story here--it made the Sunday New York TImes Magazine in 2000, "Doesn't Anybody Know How To Be A Fugitive Anymore?" by Lisa Belkin, NYT April 30, 2000.
Saturday afternoon--3:00 p.m.
Fifteen minutes before we need to head out the door, we decide to see the play. My husband runs upstairs to shower & just to be on safe side--I decide to call the theater to see if they still have any seats left. With just 4 seats left, we reserve two of them.
All local. All organic. All fresh and in season. We dine on grilled country bread with a side of sweet goat milk butter; a Chevre salad (I thought this was going to be goat cheese--turned out to be chevre as in "just goat" confit!) made up entirely of fresh mixed herbs--topped with a light Meyer lemon dressing; English Pea Fritters, composed of cilantro, mint and butter beans, turned into crusty torpedos and served with house-made yogurt; and a dinner entree of grilled romaine, topped with roasted butter beans, olives, tomatoes & more.