1. A Fancy Chicago Restaurant.
Sweetie and I used to go on dates. Not great dates, all the time, although if you count the time I surprised her with a trip to Puerto Vallarta for Christmas as a date, then the overall average quality of our dates over time goes up quite a bit, with that gift/weeklong date managing, I think, to offset the Sage Taco date and the time I got her drunk on cheap wine and made her sick for a week, which, now that I think about it, might have been the same terrible date, in which case I'm even further ahead than I thought I was.
(The Sage Taco date was when I invited Sweetie to my apartment for a night of "me cooking tacos and us watching a movie I'd rented" and I tried to make the tacos a little fancier -- because nothing says fancy like a taco-- by adding some sage to them, but the little lid came off and dumped all the sage, an entire bottle, onto the meat. I was able to get most of the sage off of the meat by the novel, and definitely never-seen-in-better-restaurants method of "holding a spatula against the meat while I shook the sage into the sink" but the damage was done: the meat was a dusty green color, like blue jeans turned green and converted into ground beef, and while it was edible, it really tasted like nothing so much as a giant pile of sage.)
(And, culinarily speaking, a little sage goes a long, long, long way. A lot of sage makes me wonder, as I think back on this, what it is that Sweetie saw in me.)
So we used to go on dates, but we don't as often go on dates anymore, because we have Mr F and Mr Bunches, who need babysitters that can handle them, and the babysitters we trust to handle them are exclusively not less than 1.2 of the Older Kids, the "1.2" coming in because The Boy we will let babysit them, but we don't relax if he does because The Boy may get wrapped up in watching a "Classic ESPN" matchup from 1974 of the Miami Dolphins versus the Denver Broncos, and consequently forget that his little brothers are in the house, leaving them free to devise ways to destroy things. Oldest we will let babysit them, but we worry that they'll end up sitting next to her in a club downtown, or, worse yet, that she will talk to them about relationships, and so neither of them can babysit the boys alone. Middle we would let babysit the boys alone but Middle can be hard to book these days; she's pretty busy.
Anyway, scheduling concerns aside, we do occasionally go on dates, but those dates lack something in fanciness: They tend to be quicker affairs, and concluded by about 8 p.m. more out of a concern for our ability to stay up later than that than out of any babysitting worries.
But that doesn't mean I don't want to take Sweetie on fancy dates, like to a fancy Chicago restaurant, and I know just the one: The "Next" Restaurant in Chicago, a restaurant I heard about when I was briefly interested in fancy food while I was writing this.
Next Restaurant is one of those newfangled restaurant ideas that ordinarily I would dismiss as a newfangled restaurant idea and then go get myself some McDonald's cheeseburgers, but for some reason(s), and I think I know what it is, Next restaurant stuck in my mind. I'm pretty sure the reason(s) are:
1. It's in Chicago, and I associate Chicago with glamour and fancy dates because Sweetie and I have gone there to see a musical, and we once stayed in a supernice hotel there courtesy of your tax dollars and the U.S. Government hiring me to defend a convict, and also there's the Sears Tower there which we once went up to the observation deck in but we did that during a cloudy day, so all we saw were clouds, which sounds worse than it was: we didn't see Chicago, but we did get a feeling for what it would be like if we went to Heaven and Heaven had high-rise buildings.
2. You have to buy a ticket to get into Next restaurant. "Needing a ticket to get in" pushes some kind of button in my id and makes me want things. The only surer way to get me to want to do something is to offer me a t-shirt for doing it.
Those two things alone make me want to go, and those two things alone make me ignore all the pretentious blither-blather that reviews of the restaurant talk about. Yeah, changing menus blah blah blah blah: It's in Chicago, you need tickets to get in, I'm kind of betting (hoping?) they sell t-shirts in the restaurant. They'd have to, right? What kind of decent restaurant doesn't sell t-shirts nowadays?
So I mentioned to Sweetie, not long ago, that at some point, I wanted to take her there for dinner.
"No." Said Sweetie.
"Is it because it's in Chicago?" I asked.
"Yes." said Sweetie, possibly remembering the time we had to drive down there for court and the traffic made me nearly 1 1/2 hours late for court and I was freaking out because you do not be 1 1/2 hours late for the Seventh Circuit Court Of Appeals, and it was astounding that I could have left an extra hour of travel time and still be 1 1/2 hours late for court, and I was only saved because one of the judges was caught in the same chaotically bad traffic jam that I was in.
Sweetie has a bad association with Chicago after that time, because I am not a good person when I'm freaking out.
(I swear a lot.)
Sweetie also does not like to be very far away from the twins right now, which is her more-real opposition to going to Chicago, which is (at last count) about 1 1/2 hours from us, and that's a long ways to be from the house when we get calls, like this actual call we got once from the Older Kids, who were babysitting then-much-younger twins -- all three of them were babysitting Mr F and Mr Bunches when we got this call during the previews for our movie:
Middle: [on phone]: We can't change the boys.
Me: What do you mean?
Middle: [The Boy] is trying to hold Mr F down and I'm trying to change his diaper but we can't do it.
Me: They're one.
Middle: I know. [Background noise of The Boy yelling for Oldest to help him.]
Me: They're one. You're grown-ups.
Middle: They're very strong.
Me: I'm going to go now.
But Sweetie insisted that I finish the call and give them tips on changing a one-year-old's diaper, and so I did, because the alternative was that Sweetie was going to go home and supervise, and I wanted to see the movie. But there's always the chance that if we go out to dinner... in Chicago... we'll get a call that's even more incomprehensible (less comprehensible?)(Both?) than that, and Sweetie will make me go home and we wouldn't even have time to get a t-shirt.