Monday Smiles – 3/9/2015
My wife, Muri, is a planner. I am not. She keeps a calendar of all her activities for the week. I keep a calendar of activities that I absolutely cannot afford to miss, like business appointments. The rest, I wing it. Muri writes down menus for the days she cooks and from those menus, makes shopping lists. On the days, I cook, I stop at the market and pick out whatever looks good for dinner. Muri is disciplined. I am spontaneous. However, there is one time our styles converge … on Saturday night, also known around here as Date Night. We both like to have plans ahead of time and I am usually the social director, searching the internet for events or seeing what movies are playing where. And making dinner reservations on the smartphone app, Open Table.
Occasionally, however, we just need some time together alone in a beautiful place and we jump in the car with no real plan in mind, heading for our official enclave at the beach in Dana Point. We call that running away. Saturday morning, I called Muri from the park. Do you want to run away? I said. She did, and so after a simple lunch at home, we loaded up the car with camp chairs and books and my assortment of electronic amusements and a few snacks and headed south on the Santa Ana Freeway. Now, the problem with having a place as lovely as Dana Point Harbor as your enclave is that others usually want to share it, particularly on the weekend. This particular weekend, Dana Point was celebrating the Festival of the Whales, and while there were no whales in attendance, there were hundreds of people in beach-garb wandering past booths selling Hawaiian tchotchkes to the tune of dreadful, dreadfully-loud Hawaiian music. Some enclave. We lasted about fifteen minutes.
We headed up the coast coast toward Laguna Beach, stopping for dollar drinks at MacDonald’s, surprised by the lack of traffic on Pacific Coast Highwa until two fire trucks squeezed past us, snarling traffic and trapping us in town for forty minutes. With our afternoon slipping away, we decided to head to Muri’s favorite Mexican restaurant in Tustin Ranch, only to find the building signless and dark. The Mexican restaurant two blocks away that we’d never tried turned out to be upscale Mexican. Translation: $20 tacos. No thanks. So, in the end, we drove back to our own neighborhood to Don Jose’s, our neighborhood Mexican restaurant, for dinner, then went to see the film, Kingsman: The Secret Service, at the local theater where they let people our age in for five bucks. Well, I guess we took the long way to the restaurant down the street, I told Muri. We both laughed.
But here’s the thing. Running away means getting away from everybody but each other and we did that. We got to drive along stretches of coastline that could just as well be the Wialea coast on Maui as Southern California and watch the beach people as we navigated the crowded beach cities. Watching beach people qualifies as first-class entertainment. It was seventy degrees and sunny. We had lots of time to talk in the car and laugh about how our spontaneous dates always turn out like this. We had a delicious dinner in a restaurant we love … taco and enchilada for Muri, tamale and chile relleno for me … and saw an entertainingly ridiculous, slightly reprobate film that didn’t take itself too seriously. How many films end with hundreds of heads exploding with miniature technicolor mushroom clouds? That’s a spoiler, by the way, but if you’ve already read it, I suppose it’s too late for an alert.
It was far from our best Date Night. Even in our checkered history of spontaneously running away, it didn’t rank high. But it began with time alone together in a beautiful place, the very definition of running away and it ended with an enjoyable date. So what is there to complain about? It’s Monday … I’m smiling.