Date night: It’s worth it

I kept seeing these ads for all kinds of date boxes and kits. Some seemed pricey for what they actually offered; others seemed kind of pointless. And I found myself thinking, “Well, we could just do a craft together. I have a whole craft closet. We don’t need a kit to tell us what to do.” Or, “We can bake something together. I have a whole baking cabinet. We don’t need anyone to orchestrate or direct us.”

But here’s the thing. We don’t. We could; but we don’t.

And here’s the other thing, my wife and I have been together all but non-stop for the last year-and-a-half. So why would we even need something to “bring us closer” or “help us to find things to connect” or “give us something to do”?

The answer might seem counter-intuitive, but it’s because we are together all the time that we need that little nudge.

We do nearly everything together. But we also don’t always do things together, if you know what I mean.

I mean, we hang out and eat and host friends. But we don’t necessarily do a focused activity the sole intention of which is to spend quality time together and connect with one another. And no matter how much physical space and/or time we have together, I will be the first to admit that there is nothing like a focused activity done with intention to bring a couple closer.

So, I signed up for the date boxes at Happily, and I filled out all of the forms about us and what we do and do not like to do. The first box arrived — and it sat. And sat.

And sat.

Seeing it sit there in the basket under the window was starting to make me really anxious. I was trying not to make it a symbol of how we were either too busy or too distracted to open it. So instead, I booked a date with my wife, and we opened it.

We put on some music. We made sure neither of us was hangry or tired or stressed, and we put our phones on silent.

Inside the box were some watercolors and some baking supplies. The date was to learn a few simple painting techniques and to make cake pops. Now let me start by saying that both of us are terrible at painting and drawing. We’ve taken painting classes together before, and we love it. But we’re enthusiastically awful at it.

And I bake — a lot — and I am relatively proficient at it.

So we went at the painting first. The colors they sent were random and poorly-marked, and three of them were the same. The directions took several times reading out loud to decipher. But we had so much fun giggling about how what they called blue and purple were identical and how the directions appeared as if they must have been translated in and out of English so many times as to be impossible to understand or maybe written by someone so in-the-know they couldn’t even imagine how out-of-the know most of us are.

We complimented one another’s techniques, and we painted and played and laughed and didn’t think or talk about anything else but the activity at hand. We were gentle with one another, teasing each other about our valiant efforts and terrible results.

It felt really freeing, and I felt really close to my wife while doing it. And I was so glad we finally tried it. And I wondered if I was afraid we wouldn’t feel that way and that was why I had put off opening that box for so long.

Meanwhile, I clearly had no need to worry. We’re as good at goofing off together, despite whatever might be going on in our little world or in the bigger one, as we are at working together.

Then we started in on the cake pops part of the date. It was an unmitigated disaster. The instructions given could never have resulted in any semblance of cake pops. That is to say, cake crumbs alone do not a cake pop make.

There was nowhere near enough chocolate or sprinkles, and the batter tasted, well, kind of gross. But I had extra chocolate and sprinkles in the pantry. And I knew to add a little frosting — which I had in the fridge — to the cake crumbles. And our house has more sprinkles in it than any house should.

We slow danced when our favorite songs came on. We laughed and smiled and had the best time that night. We tucked our “paintings” away in the craft closet, and we gave the cake pops to a neighbor who said he thought they were great. Who knows — maybe there is something to that “made with love” theory.

So, would I recommend Happily or something similar? Absolutely. Did I think the price was “worth” it? Well, if you mean was what actually comes in the box worth the price, the answer is no. But if you mean was what we got from it worth the price, the answer is a thousand times over.

Couples need to jump out of the current they’re in. It’s great to roll along. But it’s equally important to stop and see the sights. The thing is, every time we do, I’m reminded that she’s the only one in the world I want to do that sightseeing with. And you cannot put a price on that.