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(Originally written July, 2017)

Date night. What a joke of a concept. Can we all just call it what it really is? A high pressure, high expectation, ridiculously forceful attempt at fast-forwarding a reconnection with your vastly ignored spouse. I officially hate date night. An evening at home sharing a bottle of wine watching a concert on TV is far more enjoyable than a purposeful attempt to enjoy a formalized public outing.

I started off showering and shaving my legs. Effort number one. I wanted to wear my new slinky shoulderless black dress, a rare find that makes my fatness look more tolerable and actually reminded me I have legs. Not being disgusted with my current looks was effort number 2. I enhanced my “natural beauty” with make up, using the black liquid liner and purple eyeshadow that brings out my barely-blue-left-in-them eyes. Effort number 3. I even got my toes done after all of this so they’d look sexy in my high heels that I decided not to wear, opting for a more realistic bedazzled flip flop.

My husband chose an amazing Ethiopian restaurant to take me to. We sat outside, enjoying eating with our hands in Ethiopian fashion, letting our fingers turn a deep rusty red with African spices, experimenting with new exotic flavors and other-worldly smells. We chatted freely, uninterrupted by the daily mundane domestic talk, imagining reinvigorating our lives with a move back to the city, where it is electric with ethnicity, culture and choices, so many amazing choices.

After dinner, on the walk to the car to head to our next destination – a place to enjoy cocktails watching a big jazzy band – wearing my slinky dress, freshly showered and shaved with my liquid liner, purple eyeshadow and pedicured toes – my time of the month made a harsh and notable attempt at escape. Oh my god, is that…?

You have to be f’ing kidding me! What is with my bodily functions ruining any chance of sexiness I have left on “date nights”? Last date night, I ate a veggie burrito that fought back and spent the evening in the bathroom trying to mask the echoing sounds of the battle.

I had to b-line it back the the restaurant with nothing but a completely useless g-string acting as a dam, where I then had to wait for two people in front of me to take their sweet time using the single all-gender bathroom. For the first time ever, I was grateful for my currently thick thighs.

My chivalrous husband and partner of 19 years unflinchingly drove us to the nearest Target, where I stood in the bustling self check-out line to purchase one solitary pair of replacement underwear.

The friendly male clerk busily manning the self check-out approached me with a handful of plastic bags with the full intention of offering the next in line – me – a bag for my purchase, but then stopped short once he saw the only item in the girl with the black slinky dress’s hand was a lone pair of g-string underwear. I smiled as if to say, “Oh, no thank you, no bag necessary here. I’m a hot bloody mess and will be putting these new undies on right after I buy them. Thanks!” He simply pointed me to the next available self check-out with a kind gesture to give the least sexy woman on date night her space.

My man, with his unflappable sense of humor, made light of the whole situation as I fought back tears of disappointment at any attempt I have to show I “still got it.”

We finally make it to the bar, ready to salvage the night and relax with just enough time to enjoy the last 20 minutes of the band. As we scouted the area for a table, my husband sees one of his co-workers at a table with his wife. They say hi. Introductions are made. I’m still darting my eyes around the bar for somewhere my husband and I can try to eek out some minuscule amount of romance. I see a perfect spot with a great view of the band. Then the worst possible thing happens. His coworker invites us to join them.

Instead of speaking up, at the risk of being rude, we sat with them – for the entire rest of the night, with no view of the band, getting to know strangers.

Don’t get me wrong, they were lovely people. If we had been out running errands, it would have been a happy distraction. But it was “date night,” whatever the hell that’s supposed to mean.

The lesson learned here? Stop calling it date night. Stop assigning meaning and expectation to a night that, after 19 years, would be better spent doing what you really want to do – drinking to your heart’s drivingless content wearing sweatpants where you might get busy on the living room floor, or you might end up falling asleep farting under the covers and drooling on your pillow, like normal married people.