It wasn’t just the pasta

By Mir
September 17, 2007

This weekend—for the second time since our move—the kids went off with their dad and left Otto and me with a vast expanse (okay, a day and a half) of kid-free time. We of course got naked immediately, which was awkward because we were at Monkey’s soccer game when the ex showed up.

(Oh, I joke. We hardly ever get naked at soccer games. Besides, it was COLD here on Saturday! Chickadee and I were shivering and Otto was wearing jeans, and meanwhile the ex was slathering on sunscreen and complaining about how hot it was. That was when I realized that we have acclimated to the weather here. It was FREEZING, man. I mean, I think it was only 76.)

Anyway, the game ended and the kids went off with their dad and Otto had to go to a shoot and I went home and worked, but then LATER we got naked. I mean, later we went on a date.

Otto and I have passed the one-third-of-a-year mark (woo!), which—given that I’m still doing things like measuring our married life in fractions of a year—means that we’re still newlyweds. I have a much less romantic ideal of marriage at 36 than I did at 22 (duh), so it’s not that I expect being newlyweds to mean a constant carnival of x-rated giggling and uncomplicated joy, or anything, but it is rather complicated to start out married life with a couple of mortgages and a couple of kids who need to go to school at dawn every morning and two demanding jobs and several boxes that, let’s face it, we’re probably never going to unpack so maybe we should throw them in the attic already instead of pretending otherwise.

Nevertheless, if I learned anything from my first marriage it’s that romance doesn’t necessarily just happen; it needs to be made. We need to take the time to just be with each other and do things other than talk about bills, homework, deadlines and how we are out of milk AGAIN and I cannot make another trip to Kroger because I was JUST THERE.

So. The kids were gone. The evening was ours. And Otto picked a restaurant for us to try, and we even put on some clothes that did not involve shorts or t-shirts. We headed out in Otto’s car.

“So!” said Otto as we drove along, “how does it feel to be out on a date?”

“It feels…” I paused to fully assess the situation. I was wearing a flouncy skirt and pretty shoes. Otto’s hair was still damp from showering, and he was wearing a nice shirt. He drove with one hand on the steering wheel and the other resting on my knee, holding my hand. “It feels good! I like it!”

“Good! Me too.” He squeezed my hand. “So, is it like you remember dating?”

“Hmmm. Yes, I think it sort of is.” He nodded, satisfied with my answer. “In fact,” I went on, “If dinner’s any good? I’ll probably put out tonight.” I tried to keep a straight face, but his reaction made it impossible. I had no choice but to compound his pretended shock. “Yes, this is JUST LIKE I REMEMBER DATING!” We laughed most of the way to the restaurant.

The restaurant we went to bills itself as Mexican-Italian fusion, which I never would’ve selected on my own. I mean, what’s that going to involve? Spaghetti burritos? But Otto had heard good things about it, so we walked into this little hole in the wall to discover a welcoming little space packed with all sorts of very yummy food smells. We sat down and were soon waited upon by (we think) one of the owners, who was a charming woman who sort of flirted with Otto and gave me the sort of “nudge-nudge-wink-wink nice catch there, lady” treatment. We felt very well taken care of and were having a lovely time even before our food came.

And then, our food came.

That seems an inadequate way to express it. I mean, it would’ve been enough to just be out with each other, sitting across a table listening to music and chatting about a whole lot of nothing under dimmed lights, but then these MONSTROUS dishes of food arrived and if that had been my last meal on this planet, I would’ve died completely happy.

Otto had some pasta in a tomato cream sauce that was topped with a thin but gigantic crab cake. He let me have a bite and it’s only because I really really like him that I didn’t knock him over and steal his plate. I had some spinach pasta in a wine sauce with shrimp and artichoke hearts and each bite was better than the last. I was full about halfway through, but it was SO GOOD I just kept eating. I don’t know about fusing Italian and Mexican; I think maybe they just fused butter and cocaine, really.

Our server tried to talk us into dessert, but we declined on account of we’d each just eaten enough food for five people. Then she tried to give us some free coffee, which we also declined, but at that point I had to put her in my pocket and take her home because she was just so cute and sweet.

Using impeccable logic, we reasoned that if we WALKED over to a nearby ice cream place, we’d have room for dessert by the time we got there. So we strolled on over, and the shop was teeming with small children; several families had come together and they kept offering to let us go ahead of them, but we just stood back and waited.

It’s not like we had anywhere to be, or a sitter to race back to. So we watched the tweens debate the relative merits of waffle cones while pacing the cases, and the little ones dribble ice cream down their faces and arms and throw napkins in the air. The parents were clearly unnerved by our patience, and kept apologizing until I mentioned that we were in no rush because OUR kids were otherwise occupied this evening, and thats when all the parents relaxed. Like, Oh PHEW, you are not child-free people who think our children are nuisances!

Eventually we got our ice cream, and sat at an outside table with it while the hoards of kids ran around.

And you know, that sort of thing has never bothered me—provided children aren’t grossly misbehaving, I’m always happy to see some little ones around. But there was a time when Otto would’ve found that level of activity and noise really annoying. Watching him be perfectly content amidst the chaos made me smile to myself, particularly because I’m sure it didn’t even occur to him what a change he’s been through.

Afterwards we strolled back to the car, hand-in-hand, and took the long way home and then came in and listened to music and talked some more. And you know I’m not one to kiss and tell, but as I’ve already mentioned, the pasta was amazing. Ahem.

Yesterday we went to church and had lunch and ran errands and just enjoyed having time to hang out together. I really thought the weekend couldn’t have gotten any better, but then the kids came home and first I found Otto tending to some ugly blisters on Monkey’s feet before I even had a chance to get involved, and Monkey tearfully thanked him for making him feel better; and then later I overheard him telling Chickadee, “Hey Pal? It’s really good to have you home,” and Chickadee ducked her head and smiled and said it was good to be home.

Truly, the pasta pales in comparison.


  1. Leandra

    What a sweet post. Sometimes I forget that we need to work at romance even after — especially after? — ten years together. It sounds like a lovely evening. And wasn’t the weather just wondrous. I feel like a whole new person!

  2. Marissa

    I resolve to go on more dates with my husband. Right after we finish painting the new house and move and unpack…so it will be a festive Halloween date.

  3. Kimberly

    The pasta really does pale in comparison. I’m glad you get pasta with all the extras, though. You deserve it.

    (I have often used that same logic when walking for ice cream. It’s totally true–the calories don’t count if you have to walk to get them.)

  4. saucygrrl

    That really is a wonderful post Mir. I know that after 6 years of marriage, Sean and I have to mandate time together and we don’t even have kids.

    And, ah, kudos on your, er, pasta eating… *wink, wink*

  5. prophet

    nice thoughts, Mir.

  6. Delton

    You always manage to capture the essence of things. Beautiful! Thanks for the reminder of how it’s supposed to go.

  7. Ree

    How lovely. I miss date night. I need to reinstitute them in my house.

  8. All Adither

    Sounds like you married well, indeed. Happy 1/3-of-a-year anniversary!

  9. Heather

    Maybe that last little bit with the kids wouldn’t be called romantic, exactly? But it sure is love. Just made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside! (Though that may be because of the hot chocolate I was drinking.)

  10. Chewie

    Just this weekend my dh was helping a lady get her things and go to a protective place because her SO was a violent turd…and when he left to help her, he kissed me…on the way home with my foursome safely chattering in the van, I thought, “what if that man hurts my dh…what if I’m stuck alone to figure out life…WHO THE HECK WILL DEAL WITH FOUR KIDS and a crazy grief striken woman?” then…weird as it seems, I thought of you…how you’ve found someone who adores you and your kids and is learning life all new and fresh and hard and sweet. And I thought…amazing men are out there. Then this post just confirms my whole odd thought process. *grin*

  11. Aimee

    Aw… yes, that’s much better than pasta!

  12. ann adams

    You just brightened an otherwise rather gloomy Monday.


  13. tammy

    You are so cute, the two of you. I could just pinch your cheeks.

    (The uppers.)

  14. Em

    Its not even Love Thursday! Love this post. Not for nothing but I do think someone should have been giving “nudge-wink-wink nice catch there, dude” to Otto also. You were wearing pretty shoes and a flouncy skirt after all. I’m glad you had a nice weekend.

    Lastly, why does spaghetti burritos sound so delicious to me?

  15. Ben

    Awww…. now I wanna go on a date with Otto, too.

  16. Kellan Rhodes

    I enjoyed your story. I love a writer that can take a normal experience and offer it to others as a fantasy. I was honestly waiting for the violins (or mariachis) to start playing. Thanks

  17. hollygee

    I don’t know how you could have ice cream and sit outside when it was, like, sooooooo cold.

    [In Vermont, I always hated when they stopped serving the maple frozen yogurt because it was after Columbus Day — some of us eat frozen desserts all year round].

  18. becky

    We were in Pottery Barn Kids this weekend (they have a lovely restroom -with complimentary diapers!) and after we were done browsing, we headed out of the store. There were a LOT of small children and parents in there, and the noise level was a couple decibels shy of deafening. Hubby asked me about it, because usually I’m climbing the walls with that many unruly kids about. Truly, it didn’t bother me. And then & there hubby decided the worm has turned for me. With about 2 months left to go, I guess I’m doing better at realizing that will soon be me with the crying baby, hoping other people are patient as well.

  19. Not The Mama

    So, so sweet. I’m glad you had such a wonderful weekend. (And we were shivering on Saturday too!)

  20. jess

    What appropriate timing. Even though we don’t have children and have only been married a year and a half, my husband and I seem to have a hard time finding time to “be romantic” with dates and such. And I’ve been temporarily disabled this summer, which made it harder to do anything, so I’m planning a date night indoors tonight and we’ll have a candlelit dinner here at home instead.


    I have to mention this, since my husband and I find it so funny. If you want frozen desserts all year round, move to Duluth, MN. They opened a Cold Stone Creamery here a couple years ago in the middle of winter, and they had LINES just roping around the parking lot. It did so well that less than a year later, they opened a second one here, too. We love our ice cream up here and no amount of ice or cold can keep us from our frozen yummies!

  21. Dawn

    Yes, amazing men ARE out there.

    Sadly, they hide from me. Some leave skid marks.

    Glad that’s not the case with Mir and Otto. You do give one reason to hope.

  22. steph

    I may have missed this somewhere along the line, but did your ex move south too? or does he come down every few weeks?

  23. StephLove

    It’s enough to make me wish for an ex to take the kids for the weekend. Except to have an ex I guess I’d have to break up with partner and then we couldn’t have a date, ’cause we’d be broken up and she’d be watching the kids. So complicated..

  24. ScottsdaleGirl

    You tell us that it was SPINACH pasta but no ice cream flavor? What the?

  25. Heather S.

    OMG My heart actually smiled for you at this post, there is nothing sexier than when you realize the man in your life really loves your kids’ too.

  26. jennielynn

    Awww. Isn’t nice when they start to melt into a family?

  27. Wendy

    That desires another AWWWWWW! Next time just know that *ahem* burns more calories than walking. Well, if you add ice cream…oh nevermind.

  28. Beth

    You make me happy, Mir. Thanks for the window into your pasta life (at least one of us has one!)

    Wendy: which one are you adding the ice cream to? ;-)

    Em: I suspect a spaghetti burrito sounds good for the same reason that my BFF’s little sis (competitive swimmer) used to eat spaghetti sandwiches. We all LOVE our carbs! The more cheese the better ;-)

  29. Caroline

    First time commenter, commentor (neither way looks right to me…) here, I just want to say, I’ve got tears in my eyes.

    Way to go Mir and Otto. As a child of divorced parents, I know what it’s like to shuffle back and forth between two homes and it sounds like you two are doing a stand up job of making this as easy as possible on Monkey and Chicadee. I just want to give you all great big hugs…

    Best wishes,

  30. Crisanne

    Sounds like a great weekend!

  31. Daisy

    “What a catch” indeed.

  32. Mom101

    I miss dating, although I am loving experiencing it vicariously through you. That Otto’s a keeper.

  33. Heidi

    Hee. You said “OUR kids.” Must feel great.

  34. Lisa

    What a sweet post!

  35. Heidi

    AND – this reminds me of When Harry Met Sally: “I’ll have what she’s having.”

  36. Cele

    I’m with you, dates are essential to romance, romance is essential to a happy marriage remaining a marriage and not just falling into a friendly (hopefully) partnership.

  37. Barb Cooper

    Dang it, Mir! You always do this to me when my husband is out of town and I’ve just found out I have walking pneumonia. Well, I mean, when my husband IS out of town and I’m missing him.

    But I really did just find out I have walking pneumonia and since my girls got scraped swimming and there is no handsome husband to kiss and make better, we’re all crabby. Good to read about YOUR pasta, though, in a narrowing my eyes, talking through my teeth kind of way.

    Oh, I’m kidding. Someone SOMEWHERE should be having good pasta. I’m glad it’s you.


  38. carolyn

    You are a lucky lucky girl. Otto is a lucky boy, too, of course, but you?? Lucky girl!!

  39. Jen

    awe – sweet post!

    and you must share (by email if necessary) the name of that restaraunt… seems like hubby & i may need to have a date whilst in your area in November. ;) and it sounds like the perfect place!

  40. Pam

    As one who has been where you are (but more than a few years later), isn’t is wonderful when it all works out? Yeah. Like it’s that easy.

    I got the impression that your ex lived in your old state, which is far away from your new state (and I only know that b/c you drove through VA, where I am, and there was no way to meet you without being Stalky McStalkerson, so you drove on through…), which means it’s really great that he makes that effort to stay in touch with his kids. B/c my ex? Lives 2 miles away. And sees the kids once a month, if that. Yeah, they’re 15 and 20, but still. It’s not like he saw them much when they were younger, either.

    All this is to say … yay you! And Otto! and your kids! and how dating, the second time around, is so much more fun!

  41. Elena

    It’s funny how you didn’t mention how both of you had filled your pockets with a varied array of bacon salts. Didn’t the pasta and the crabcake taste Better With Bacon?
    I’m glad you guys had a date night and found a great restaurant.

  42. carrien

    You know, I just looked up from reading this, baby asleep on my lap, and felt a smile creeping out of me at my DH sitting across the room. You remind me to be thankful for the man I have. Even if we rarely ever get a date, or amazing “Pasta” what with teething an all.

    Sheesh, writing people into a state of contentment, now that’s talent.

  43. Brigitte

    Ha, I bet the food was SO good, bacon salt didn’t even cross their minds!

    Beautiful post, and your commenters have most of my thoughts covered . . but I WAS thinking maybe Chris could come visit you and throw out – oops, I mean UNPACK – those last few boxes for you.

  44. Gerome

    I’m glad to see Dad in the picture — and that Otto is picking up the Dad thing too. Kids need dads.

    You got the nudge-nudge wrong. Here’s the Python line:

    Snap snap, grin grin, wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more?

    So it’s “wink-wink-nudge-nudge”. You had the nudges first. To those with a classic education in Pythonia, reversing it jars the mind. Quite disturbing. I trust you’ll use the prescribed order going forward.

  45. Lia

    Why am I teary and wishing for pasta? Ha ha! That was a great story and I can fell your happiness coming through.

  46. Manic Mommy

    I’m calling the babysitter now. We haven’t been out alone in forever.

    No complaints though, we had date night at home on Saturday – cold enough for a fire, wine, and a movie.

    Very romantic. Oh, and our *ahem* pasta was good, too.

  47. Flea

    After 15 years and three kids, we finally have a house with separate floors for master and kids bedrooms. It’s pasta all the time! Seriously, it only gets better.

  48. Jenifer

    That’s so so sweet!

    Your a lucky gal!

  49. ImpostorMom

    lovely post, I miss the date nights. I took them for granted I think before the baby. Now with a sitter it is just so much more expensive to go out. I must know the name of that restaurant though, sounds like something I need to try for sure. Might even be a good excuse to get a sitter and have a date night. :)

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