Chatting About Date Night
Meaghan: HELLO and Happy Friday to you. I come to you today totally invigorated in my relationship and self-regard, ready to face the future, as last night was DATE NIGHT.
Ester: DATE NIGHT! How exciting. Please tell me all about it.
Meaghan: Um, Dustin’s sister lives in Brooklyn, so she came over after work, we all hung out for awhile, then Dustin and I rode our bikes (!! my first time in like a year) to get Ethiopian food in Bushwick and proceeded to have a very nice time talking about our baby and freaking out that we were so far away (10 minute bike ride). The meal was $60 with tip, babysitting was free.
Ester: Um, if babysitting is free, I’m not sure you’ve done date night quite right. You have to be thinking all the time while you’re enjoying yourself “dammit, the clock is going, I have to pay someone for every minute I’m away, so each of MY minutes better be worth two of the usual minutes …” Oh what am I saying. You did date night PERFECTLY I am so proud of you. Your first time too!
Meaghan: Yeah I don’t know when we will start hiring actual non-relatives to babysit. That seems like a big step. Do you have a regular person you have watch your kid? A standing “date night” (God I didn’t think I’d ever be a person who used that phrase and here I am.)
Ester: Yes, scratch that from the record. “Regular date night” is even worse than “date night” as a phrase. Ew gross. But yes! As it happens, we have a babysitter who we like: she is the Drycleaner’s Daughter, which will be the title of my next book, and she is this very sweet young teenager who enjoys spending the occasional Saturday night playing with Babygirl, putting her to bed, and then watching my old Gilmore Girls or Gray’s Anatomy DVDs and getting paid $15 an hour.
Meaghan: As a former babysitter, I think that’s a pretty good wage! So is that how you met her, through the dry cleaner? I want to know how this went down! And how you decided what to pay her.
Ester: Ben is the kind of person who makes friends with other people because he is interested in them, and so he struck up a friendship with our dry cleaner. He noticed she wasn’t listening to music, and she said she didn’t have a stereo, so one afternoon I came home and he was boxing up his old stereo to bring to her, and ever since then she has loved him. Then she was like, hey, I have a daughter, allow me to give her to you for employment.
Meaghan: This anecdote has made me love him, too. That is kind of perfect! So did you then interview the daughter or something? How does this work? I would be nervous I would end up not liking her and then never be able to dry clean my clothes again (not like I need an excuse).
Ester: Ha! She came over once to “hang out” during the daytime so that we could make sure she and Babygirl liked each other and played well together and also that we could communicate. But yeah, the “interviewing” thing is super weird. For a while I had hired this random lady to hang out with Babygirl once a week for a few hours so I could do some work, and I wasn’t crazy about her — I would say, “So, where are you going?” and she was like “I’m taking her to Target! I have to buy a plunger or whatever” — but I wasn’t sure what to do because I am awkward and non-confrontational sometimes.
Meaghan: Me too, and I was hoping that motherhood would magically rid me of that. Like, it would awaken some protective instinct that overrides that. Instead me and Dustin are both like, “No YOU call the pediatrician about this rash.”
Ester: Aw, but calling the pediatrician is hard! You don’t want to bother them! You don’t want to seem like a crazy helicopter Brooklyn parent! I got it. So which of you calls? How do you decide?
Meaghan: I fucking call. Ha. Somehow the pediatrician and health care in general is my purview. Dustin is the one who is like, “I’m sure it’s fine,” so it is on me (is this too real?). And follow-up: the rash was a viral rash and they couldn’t do anything. But I was glad to know!
Ester: Of course! And good for you for calling. I have called like a total of twice, maybe, in almost two years, because I’m so paralyzed by my social anxiety about how I will appear to the pediatrician. (Ben has not called anyone since I went into labor.) One time Babygirl and I had had thrush, and I was in near-constant pain for about a month, before I finally called. I really want things to go away on their own. So good for you for being on top of it, and dammit feminism for failing us.
Meaghan: Oh my gosh the men actually making phone calls during labor thing! I was like in hell, having contractions, yet very impressed that he was so diligent with these phone calls! Which sounds condescending and terrible and I’m sorry.
Ester: Hahaha no, it makes sense! Also during labor the phone is their JOB. It’s a tool. Woman scream. Man use tool.
Meaghan: Also if anyone knows what the correct order to give information is on the phone with the doctor’s office, please let me know. I always babble about my problem and then they’re like, “Miss, Miss, what is your NAME?” That is half of my hesitation to call. I don’t know the order to reveal information.
Ester: That fear of doing things wrong. It is insidious. I’m glad we have both managed overcome that fear in order to go on date nights at all. One of our date nights recently btw was to see CABARET at Studio 54 and we shared a table with these two middle-aged ladies and one of them spent $5 on a Kit-Kat bar because. Well you know. Cabaret, Kit Kat Club, Kit Kat bar? It just makes sense! But $5! I was kind of agog. Perhaps she was on a date night too though and so felt like treating herself was obligatory.
Meaghan: AGOG! I love it. Yeah I am impressed with your fancy planned dates. We never really went on “dates” before. Though maybe now, living the life of the romantically oppressed, we will go all out when we can.
Ester: Oh, the tickets were a birthday gift. But I like the way you think!
Meaghan: Ha. First the massage now this. You get great gifts!
Ester: Yes, this was kind of a banner year for birthday gifts. The key is to tell people you want experiences and then they’re like ohhhhh I can’t just grab something off the super-discount-sale rack at Anthropologie? Which I won’t name names but someone did to me once and it was oatmeal-colored and completely the wrong size and when I went to return it the lady was embarrassed for me because it had cost between $5 and $15.
Meaghan: Haa. My mom loves to buy me ill-fitting things from Anthropologie. LOVES. Maybe I will try the experience tack with her soon. FOR DATE NIGHT.
Ester: Yes! Yay. Also my aunts babysat, so it was a win-win-win.