Date night is a revered tradition at our house. No ruts for us — we’re always looking for a new activity. One month, Eric planned a surprise for me. When I got to the car, he handed me a package. Not a gift-wrapped package, mind you, because he’s still a guy, but a bag of “stuff.”
“What’s this?” I asked.
“Clues,” he said, his eyes dancing.
I reached into the bag and pulled out a Journey tank top, complete with a few rhinestones, and a “mix CD.” Mom, Journey is a rock and roll band.
“Put the shirt on,” he instructed.
It barely contained my enthusiasm, if you know what I mean. “I’m a little boobylicious for it,” I said, ripping off and bastardizing Destiny’s Child all at once. “What size did you get?”
“Um, medium, I think,” he said, the quiver in his voice betraying his terror at the subject. The previous Valentine’s Day he had *accidentally* purchased me the Size XL package of the Pajama Gram. I wear an 8. After I quit sobbing, I had to admit that I looked pretty funny in the giant tap pants. Ever since then, Eric has erred on the side of too tight.
“Well, that should have fit,” I conceded. It would just do for public wear, but I’d keep an eye out for Fashion Don’t photographers. “Thanks, honey.” I kissed his chiseled cheek and caught a whiff of Calvin Klein Obsession. I loved date night.
“I think it looks good,” Eric voted. See above: he’s still a guy.
We got in the car and popped the mix CD into the changer. Steve Perry immediately sang to us about “Lovin’, Touchin’, and Squeezin’.”
“Those are your hints,” Eric said, and he put the car in reverse.
“I think my husband is awesome and he’s taking me to see Journey!” I squealed. I had loved Journey since high school. Everyone in the 80’s had some Journey song or other as “their song” with their high school boyfriend or girlfriend (“Open Arms” or “Faithfully” ring any bells out there?), and then had “Separate Ways” as the inevitable break-up song three weeks later.
Eric smiled and turned up the volume.
Two hours of Houston rush hour traffic and three near-collisons later, we made up it from our home southwest of downtown to the Woodlands ampitheatre north of the city. By then, I was a little nauseous, hoarse from trying to hit the high notes with Steve Perry, and no longer sitting up extra straight to fight the inevitable blue jeans shorts and tight tank “muffin top” look. Eric had brought ice cold Monster Absolutely Zeroes with us as road pops, and the car had taken on the distinct odor of Monster burps. His, not mine. Because I’m a lady. And you thought beer drinkers were bad, huh?
We parked and started our long walk in. The concert was in the summertime, which in Houston means steam bath, so within minutes sweat trickled then flowed down our legs. But it was okay, in fact, it was nirvana. We were together, and we were going to see Journey, which Eric had picked out just for me. We swung our joined, slippery hands as we chatted. The nausea had worn off by this point, and I started noticing the other concert-goers. And they weren’t wearing Journey t-shirts.
“Eric?” I said.
“Hmmm?” he answered, and slugged some more Monster.
He let out a tiny belch, and I leaned as far away as I could get. “Did you notice the car with the Union Jack flag on it parked by us?” I asked, fanning my hand in front of my face as I spoke.
“Nope.” He didn’t seem curious about it either, or cognizant of my reaction to his odor release.
“How about that one?” I pointed. “Or that t-shirt?” I pointed again.
By now, I had figured out something that Eric hadn’t yet realized. And it was something even better than going to a Journey concert. It was “thinking we were going to a Journey concert when we really weren’t” and all that implied about the years of fun I was about to have on this issue with my husband.
Eric stopped, and two people bumped into us from behind.
“Sorry, sorry,” I said to them, and pulled Eric one step off the path to stand in the dirt while he cogitated.
“Oh, shit,” he said.
“Oh, shit,” I agreed.
“It’s pretty ironic when you go to an old folks rock concert….” I said.
“Classic rock,” Eric interrupted.
“Potato, potahtoe,” I said. “Anyway, it’s pretty ironic when you go to an old folks rock concert, and you can’t even remember the name of the band that’s playing.”
My husband doesn’t always laugh easily at himself, but this time he did. “Alzheimer’s. Dementia. General old age. Or something.”
I leaned in for a clench, and we mingled sweat as we hugged and rocked. I leaned into his ear and sang, “Pour some sugar on me,” and was given a love-punch for my efforts.
And we continued our walk into the Def Leppard concert in my tight Journey t-shirt, for another perfect date night.