My First Date Night In A Pandemic

date night

My six year wedding anniversary with my husband hit earlier in the month and the lure of eating dinner – alone – in a nice restaurant for a date night was too tempting to resist. It was the first weekend most restaurants in Orange County got the all-clear to open up for dining in and we thought now was as good a time as any to make our first venture to a dine-in experience in three months. 

After getting the all clear from the kid’s grandparents, I excitedly made our reservations at a steakhouse I had hoped to visit before the state went into lockdown. The next day, I did my face, curled by hair and wore a dress.

We headed out into the great new normal. 

Once we arrived, most of the staff were wearing masks, but to my surprise a few of the older managers in suits were not. Not one patron wore a mask. I almost felt silly for wearing mine. I mean, I get it to some degree. How do you eat and wear a mask? I digress. 

The service was beyond excellent and the poor server was so patient as I had to relearn how to act in a restaurant. I felt awkward as I asked her to repeat herself a few times when I misheard her muffled voice through the cloth of her mask. And then, I mean, I literally changed my drink order three times at one point. Who am I? She laughed. I laughed. I stuck to my usual white wine to prevent me acting like any more of a fool. 

The food was delicious. We went all out. Appetizers, drinks, steaks, sides, and dessert. The feeling of having your food served warm on a glass plate was something I had yearned for, yet felt equally guilty for having the privilege to do so.

I mean, hello cognitive dissonance?

Wasn’t it just last week everything was closed and we had less cases than we do now? But the doctors assure our county residents they’re confident they can handle the job. 

Still, it felt risky. Like being in high school and telling my parents I was spending the night at a friend’s house when I was really headed to a party. I knew the risk. I was willing to take it. 

The hostess asked if we would like a photo. I didn’t hesitate to say yes. I realized she had a camera and thought how sweet. Then I realized they wouldn’t have likely taken my phone for a photo under these circumstances in the first place. 

We closed our tab. I left a generous tip. (I say this to encourage others to do the same – not to toot my own horn.) I felt perfectly safe but wondered when I would venture out again. Regardless of any health risks, restaurants are just not the peaceful experiences they were before having kids. 

A lot has changed in the last few months, including date night.

Some of us parents are lucky enough to have grandparents nearby still willing to watch the kids. Some of us are not. Some of us are lucky to feel minimally at risk for experiencing complications from COVID-19. Others don’t know how well they’d fare.

It’s a lot to consider but it was nice to relish in what life used to be like, even for just one date night.