My husband and I have been going out to breakfast on Sunday mornings lately, so we can talk without kids and dogs interrupting every half spoken, unfinished sentence we attempt. I actually brush my hair and wear a dress, so that makes it like a date. Here’s how our date went yesterday:
Me: “Can I pull this off?” I say as I do my best model walk around the bedroom in my new tight, white Tahari dress I found at TJ Maxx for $15.
Husband: “If you don’t, I will,” he says, looking up from his computer.
The little dog runs in, jumps on the bed, stands next to him, looks at me, and sneezes.
Husband: (raises left eyebrow.)
We walk out to the car.
Me: “Wait! Take a picture of me! I hardly ever look this good,” I say as I stop in front of the driveway.
Me: “Come on, this is important for my career. I’ll put it on my blog.”
Husband: “Okay, stop moving. Put your hand down. Look at the camera, not at the sky…”
He takes a few quick shots, hands me the phone, then walks to the car. I scroll through the photos.
Me: “Oh, honey. These are awful. They’re blurry, I look horrible. You call yourself a photographer?”
We get in the car, he starts typing the restaurant address into Jane, his British-voiced GPS secret girlfriend thing.
Husband: “Time to put your phone away,” he says without looking up from Jane and her buttons.
Me: “Why are you fiddling with Jane? You know how to get there. You know she drives me crazy. Can’t we go anywhere without Jane” I huff as I put my phone in my purse and snap it shut dramatically.
Husband: “I don’t think you understand my relationship with Jane. She’s comforting. I don’t have to think when I turn her on. I just do what she says.”
Me: “I don’t think you understand my relationship with my phone…”
We ride along in silence for a while, careful not to say anything else that could start out funny but then turn into a tiff and ruin the mood of the new white dress and thoughts of bacon.
We arrive at the restaurant, thanks to Jane, even though she doesn’t tell him where to park. I start to, but then stop myself. Because we’re on a date.
We walk through the parking lot of the hotel, which sits on the river, into the restaurant.
Host: “Would you like to sit inside, or out?” he says pleasantly, as if it’s an easy question.
Me: “uh…hmm…well,” I look at my husband. “Do you think it’s cold out there? I mean it wasn’t that cold when we were walking across the parking lot, but you know, we were walking. If we’re sitting for a while it might get cold. But it’s really nice out there by the river,” I look out through the windows to the cheery red geraniums in raised planters lining the seating area. “Do you have heaters? Oh, look, you do! But wait, are the heaters on now, or are they only at night time? You probably don’t turn them on during the day…I mean, unless it’s really cold, right?”
Host: “Uh,” he started, and then he just stopped.
Me: “I didn’t really answer your question, did I?”
Host: “Uh…” he tried again. Poor kid. I’m sure he’s not married.
Husband: “We’ll sit inside.”
Host: “Okay. You sure?” he says nicely, looking at me.
Me: “Yes. He knows I’ll complain about being cold in about 20 minutes, and then we’ll have to move inside. Better just to start inside. It does look nice out there though…” my eyes wander back outside, but then a waitress comes up and walks us to the table. She seats us next to a clear view of the river.
We look at the menus. He sees Parma Ham, which reminds him of Ohio, so he tells me a little story about all the different ethnic foods in Ohio, like how great the Polish sausage stands were in the Polish neighborhoods and how the Italian restaurants were run by first generation Italians who screamed in Italian and banged around pots and pans in the kitchen while they cooked, which was so uncomfortable but somehow so normal to everyone, while I looked through the menu. I’ve heard that story, and variations of it, for 17 years.
Me: “Wow. They have huckleberry pancakes.”
Husband: “What do you want?” Because he knows it’s more complicated than huckleberry pancakes.
Me: “Well, I sort of want a huckleberry pancake, but you just get pancakes, and it doesn’t come with eggs or anything else. And then I sort of want the breakfast that has all the eggs and sausage, or maybe bacon, and stuff, but I have to choose a biscuit or toast with that and I don’t want a biscuit or toast. I want a huckleberry pancake.”
Husband: “So ask them to substitute the pancake for the biscuit.”
Me: “Oh! What a brilliant idea. Do you think they’d do that? I mean, the pancakes are almost as expensive as the whole breakfast. Which is weird, because it seems like bacon and eggs would be more expensive, but maybe it’s hard to get huckleberries this time of year. Except there are blackberries everywhere, it seems like huckleberry season, doesn’t it? Maybe they could make a little tiny Huckleberry pancake for me. Hey, look, they have marionberry compote.”
Husband: “Like the mayor of DC.”
Me: “Former mayor. What a loser,” I dismiss the conversation, because he makes that joke every time we see the word marionberry, which is like a loganberry, or a big blackberry, really.
Husband: “Will you give me a dollar if I ask the waitress to tell me about the ‘com-po-tee?'”
Husband: “Will you?”
Me: “Honey, you’ll just embarrass her.”
The waitress walks up with our coffee. She’s about 25 or so. Friendly and professional. Her name tag said Lisa.
Waitress: “Are you ready to order?”
Me: “Yes. Can I get this breakfast but substitute a huckleberry pancake for the biscuit? It can be a small pancake, I don’t mind. I don’t need a full order of pancakes, of course, just the one. Small one.”
Waitress: “Of course. We usually charge an extra 75 cents, is that okay?”
Me: “Oh yes! That’s fine! Excellent! Thank you so much!” I almost clapped my hands together. But I didn’t.
Waitress: “Sausage, or bacon?”
Me: “Sausage.” I was firm on that.
Waitress: “And for you?” she smiles at my husband.
Husband: “Can you tell me more about what’s in this com-pote-ee?” he asks, with a completely straight face and voice. I look down, and smooth the white linen napkin over my tight white dress, but do not smile. It is a valid question.
Waitress: “It’s a sweet sauce made with fresh berries,” she says, without even skipping a beat, “marionberries, blueberries and huckleberries.” Okay, maybe she skipped a quarter of a second, but really, she was so remarkably good that no one but us would have noticed the skip. “It’s very good on top of the pancakes or waffles,” she smiles again.
Husband: “Great, I’ll have the waffle with the com-pote-ee. And a side of bacon.”
The waitress smiles, takes the menus and leaves. I reach into my wallet and give him a dollar. And then we talk about a few big things and little things that didn’t even really matter, because mostly we enjoy finishing our sentences without the kids or dogs (or Jane) interrupting, which reminds us of the kids and the dogs, so then we talk about them until our food comes.
Waitress: “Let me know if you like this berry sauce,” she says as she puts down a small tureen of berry compote, “I can bring more if this isn’t enough.”
Husband: “Thanks! This looks great!” he smiles at her, genuinely.
I smile, too, but look down at my pancake with a careful measure of interest. She smiles at him again, then leaves.
Me: “Damn. She’s good,” I sigh as I take a piece of his bacon.
Husband: “Yeah. Impressive save,” he pours some compote onto his waffle. I put some on my Huckleberry pancake. It is delicious.
Me: “Do you want my sausage? I’m really not in the mood for it. I should have got the bacon.”
Husband: “Sure,” and he takes it, and puts another piece of his bacon on my plate.
We finish, and pay and leave. As we walk outside, I see the light is pretty good, and there’s a brick wall ahead, a nice backdrop for a picture.
Me: “Hey, let’s try another picture. I still look good, right?”
Husband: “Fine. Stand over there,” he sighs, after looking around and noticing a family posing for pictures on a bench nearby.
Me: “Because I do, right?”
But he doesn’t answer. He takes several more shots, but I’m in shadows and you can’t really see my face.
Me: “Honey. You’re not even trying,” I sigh, as I scroll through, again. He really is a good photographer when he wants to be. But I know it doesn’t really matter, and I don’t want to ruin the mood. Suddenly it all seems silly. Besides, I’ll just get a kid to take a picture when we get home, like usual. For some reason the pictures they take of me always turn out great.
We get in the car and drive out of the parking lot and on to a different road, in the opposite direction of home.
Me: “Are you trying a different way home? HEY! Where’s Jane? I can’t believe you didn’t turn her on…what’s up?”
Husband: “I decided to be nice. I know how upset she makes you…and we’re on a date.”
Me: “Are you breaking up with her? Honey, that’s so sweet that you turned her off. It’s not really her, you know, it’s just that she’s always interrupting me when I’m telling you a good story and she’s so bossy, it startles me…so thanks for…wait. Hang on. Are we going to the bookstore? You’re just going across the street to the bookstore? Ah. I see. No wonder you don’t need Jane. Nice try.”
And then we walked up to the bookstore he opened the first door of the store for me, which was so nice, I waited until he opened the second door, just to instill the habit. And then we were in and smelled the books, and immediately scattered to our own sections without even saying a word, like we usually do, and met up a half an hour later at checkout with books and magazines we sort of needed but not really.
And then we got back in the car and drove home, and I didn’t even complain about Jane. When we got home, he went back in his room and started working, and our 13 year old daughter took a picture of me in my white dress on the porch, and it was good enough the very first time.
We’ll probably do the same thing again next week. Like usual.