(Excuse the cellphone quality! Taken by our friend, Betty!)
Last weekend, Allie and I waded back into the dating pool together. Yes, we are still married and no, we haven't been on a formal, pre-planned date in over 9 months....see past blogs about having Strouse House Baby. There have been plenty of quick outings, work functions, or special events like weddings over the last year, but not a single "We are going on a date. Be ready by 4 PM" moment until just days ago.
Single guys, one of the greatest phrases us married guys can hear escape the beautiful lips of our wives is, "I've planned a surprise date, Everything is taken care of. Be ready by 4 PM on Saturday." Allie broke the news to me early in the week and for days I was anticipating a date where for once I just got to go with the flow and had to do zero planning.
We dropped off SHB at Allie's parents for the evening and headed to our first destination, a wine tasting at a local restaurant in Short Pump! Allie had been raving about their wine since attending a tasting with a friend and was excited to show me around. We were to start with a tasting and then move to the main dining room where we planned to share a few appetizers (still dating on a budget...). The tasting room was full of people, a large wooden bar, and hundreds of bottles of wine/wine barrels. Such a cool setting!
After enjoying multiple red and white wine samples, we paid our tab and wandered over to the host station. Two hostesses greeted us and asked for the name on the reservation. Since we had arrived in the middle of the afternoon we figured it would be a quick wait, if any, so we hadn't put our names on the list. We told the ladies as much and they said, "Great. We can sit you at 8:15". Under the normal assumption that quoted seating times are 30-45 min max I took a quick glance at my watch, noticed the long hand was on the 30, and in my mind thought "Perfect. 45 minutes". An awkward pause ensued before the time clicked mentally and I said to the hostess "The 8:15 that's in three hours?" to which she replied affirmatively. It was only 5:30! We walked out of the tasting room dejectedly with only the smell of the amazing food as a parting gift.
On the way to the car that was valeted (because we thought we would be there more than 20 minutes), we racked our brains on the best place locally to get a glass of wine. We aimed the car towards the first place to come to mind, a local hot spot just down the street. Neither of us had been there before, but I know they feature great local jazz and we were excited to check out the atmosphere. We grabbed a seat on an overstuffed couch and opened up the wine menu. Quickly scanning the reds, we found one of Allie's favorites and.....$16 for one glass?! We quickly realized we were in over our heads when the cheapest glass of wine and smallest plate were a bit too rich for our blood price-wise. The table next to us was getting up to leave so we grabbed our coats and b-lined for the exit, following their lead. Definitely not our proudest moment.
I suggested we try a grocery store down the street because I'd heard they had a great beer selection and a place with food. We made our way through the crowded store into the back corner reserved for just that. A friend who works there greeted us and after filling him in on our search for the perfect glass of wine at the right price he quickly told us we were in the wrong place and made some alternative suggestions. Plus., as much as we closed our eyes, we were still in a grocery store. Not the type of atmosphere worth waiting nine months for.
We were getting desperate at this point. "H-anger" was starting to set in and patience was starting to wear thin. We called the first restaurant we passed and after being quoted a 20 min wait time then "upgraded" to a 60 min wait time we moved on. Finally a beaming beacon in the night appeared. A seemingly uncrowded Italian chain restaurant. While waiting at the light, we called to get our name on the list. The girl told us she'd be happy to add our name to the list then asked a strange question, "How close are you?" Asking like she had been burned by call aheads before. We were caught slightly off guard, but told her we were looking at the building from the light and would be there within minutes. Upon arrival, we checked in with the host and she told us it would be a 15 minute wait, which at this point was music to our ears and we were at the top of the list! A few moments later, another party of two approached the stand, responded that they were not on the list yet, and then were seated immediately by a different hostess! When she returned, I asked her how the other couple got so lucky since we were at the top and she said, "I'm truly the one in charge here and I didn't realize there was a list. It will be about another 30 minutes". I informed her that would not be the case and we'd like to be seated immediately. She said she was going to fix the situation immediately and grabbed some menus as she walked us to our table. We passed at least 10 open/clean tables in the walk so we aren't sure where the 30 minute wait time came from.
Our server arrived to take our drink orders and Allie ordered a glass of the house red. Like all good food salespeople the server replied, "the 10 oz correct?" to which my lovely, smart, and well trained against salespeople tactics wife replied "Is that the smallest glass? If not, then I'd like the standard pour". Man I love her! We ordered several things throughout the night only to have the server come back and tell us they were sold out. It was a disappointment, but after the night we had, we wouldn't expect anything less. We escaped relatively unscathed and with full bellies.
We closed out our date night with a Redbox on the couch at Allie's parents. I know that sounds like a Jr High date, but SHB was sleeping peacefully and I typically fall asleep during movies watched after 9 PM so Allie wanted to enjoy a movie with an attentive audience for once.
The lesson of this story is never to put too much weight on the activities and always to enjoy the adventure of life with those that you love. Despite the change in plans, we laughed all through the night, created numerous new inside jokes, and now have a great story to tell. I have been put in charge of planning all future dates though...
Had a great date night fall apart? We'd love to hear the story!