I have been dating a bit recently. It has been a while, so I wasn't sure how successful I would be.
I worried about what I should wear and where I should take my datee. Ironically the one thing I worried about when I used to date was already taken care of. My company for the night was legally obligated to come home for a post-date ''coffee''. She's my wife.
The wife and I used to date often. This was mostly before we were married and I pulled out all the classic tactics to impress her. It started with drinks and at those drinks I would listen intently as the words flowed from her mouth. I nodded and smiled a lot and figured the less I talked the greater the chance I had of impressing her.
When I had worn her down a little, we moved on to a movie, which is perfect because you have to talk even less. Just a few jokes and let the movie do all the work for you.
From there we stepped it up to dinner out and even camping when the romance really got going. I once took her to the beach for a date. It was National Clean Up Week.
I thought she might consider it cute, spending an hour with her boyfriend picking up other people's beer bottles and coke cans. I was wrong. She still informs me from time to time that picking up rubbish will not engender romance, no matter how good the vista and the company is.
We've now been married five years, so the honeymoon and the dating have finished.
Our nights out have been replaced by nights in with two children who don't care that Mum and Dad don't get the chance to enjoy each other's company. They should care, because mums and dads need to date or else they fall out of love with each other.
It's wrong to blame the post-marriage romantic malaise simply on children. Other attractions now vie for our attention in the bedroom. We used to have a television in there but I banned it. Now our telephones take up the time between going to bed and going to sleep. My wife likes to read the newspaper online while I'm addicted to email, Twitter and reports on North American sports matches I really should have no interest in.
So, last Saturday, I went to the back of my wardrobe, where the really good clothes are, found some unused aftershave gifted to me last Christmas and even tried to pat down the bit of my hair that sticks up at the back of my head. In other words, I went all out and took my wife on a date.
We had some drinks, we had a bit of dinner and we went to a concert. It was really good. After the concert we went to a couple of bars but, truth be told, the queues were too long for drinks, and the shadow of tomorrow morning started hanging over us. We went home before we turned into pumpkins. Tomorrow morning means kids who expect the full parenting service regardless of how long we partied the night before.
I reckon dating is important at any age. I imagine if I make it to a resthome, every night will be date night and hopefully by then I might have learnt some lessons. Most importantly, that rubbish collecting does not equal romance.
Hadyn Jones is an occasional romantic. His local beach is very clean. There must be lots of dating going on in his neighbourhood. He writes a fortnightly column.
- The Dominion Post