Date night

My usual breakfast colleagues were at the table having their meal. There was no room at this table so I found refuge with another department. The canteen has organically divided itself into sections – each department gravitates towards its own space. True rebels sometimes sit in the wrong place – the confusion and annoyance on the other folks’ faces when this happens, is a joy to behold.

These are people that I know only to say hello to at the coffee machine – a machine with which I am intimately acquainted – visiting it at least five times a day. Pleasant individuals.

I sat down and like a  dashing business executive I opened my hard boiled egg. I remained quiet – just to get my bearings on how the conversation was flowing this morning. I almost splurted when I heard someone reference the fact that they had been on date night on Friday with their spouse. On date night? What kind of fuckery is this?  Everyone else at the table nodded their approval. I was flabbergasted. What was this date night of which they spoke? I know of the Tina Fey / Steve Carell comedy film from a few years ago. But was ‘date night’ now an official event in the strange, twisted world of the heterosexual married couple?

I couldn’t resist. I had to ask them more.

‘What did you do for date night?’ I asked.

They had booked a table for a meal at a mid-range, suburban hotel for 6.30pm and then after food at 8.30pm they met some friends – another couple – in the hotel bar for drinks. I’ll bet the rugby was on the television and that he drank a pint of plain and she a glass of dry white wine or a gin and tonic.

I’ll bet that bar was tastefully decorated in a classy beige colour.

I bit my lip. These are colleagues. A hilarious joke about their appalling wife-swapping antics wouldn’t have gone down well with their muesli this sunny Monday morning, I suspect.

In any case the friends they met at the hotel bar were also on date night. A taxi home was booked for 11pm to allow the babysitter home at a reasonable hour.

This ‘date night’ concept was confusing to me. On the one hand it makes sense – parents with pre-teen children and full time jobs obviously have very little time together alone. So a monthly date night is a practical and reasonable plan. If for no other reason than to get away from the spawn for an evening. Make time for romance as it were.

As a single, urban dwelling homosexual however it all seemed to clinical and lacking in spontaneity. The concept of forced fun seems slightly dubious.

Who am I to judge though? If this is a method of keeping their relationship healthy then clearly it’s a good plan and they should be congratulated.

But a meal out in suburbia? If you’re going to take the time and the effort to go out then you might as well go the whole hog, and book a table somewhere in town. And then go for cocktails with umbrellas, in some swanky, city-centre wine bar.

Instead of voicing these thoughts I put on my blandest smile and congratulated them on their ingenuity in arranging an evening off from the children.

The rest of the table started braying in agreement. They voiced their approval at this efficient way of keeping the romance alive. I suspect that Travelodges and Best Westerns along the commuter belt may soon be seeing a rise in Friday night business if this date night becomes a thing.

Although it’s probably already a thing.

I have no idea. What do suburban, married couples do for entertainment that doesn’t involve their children?

I’m not judging or pitying them. That would be a foolish exercise. Perhaps they look at me with pity. A single, middle-aged homosexual living in a city centre flat might be their very definition of an empty, unfulfilled life .

Maybe they are right. Although at least I can go for Vietnamese food at my own convenience.

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