Cheap Dates

There are two kinds of dates: the cheap ones and the spendy ones. Going out can get expensive for both parties. Guys should not complain about spending their paychecks on dates because the money women spend to impress a guy has been shelled out prior to the date.

Before getting married, women will buy the perfect pair of jeans, a new top, jewelry to match, various hair products, and make-up to get dolled up for her night out. It gets expensive if you want a guy to ask you out. Competing for being the most attractive takes time, and money is no object.

Post marriage dates are cheap. After getting wooed and being convinced to seal future dates for the rest of our lives, the competition’s over. My husband and I have realized it saves money and keeps extra pounds off if we opt for splitting an appetizer versus having a big steak dinner, and try to hit a reduced-rate theatre or matinee. Money is an object.

My husband and I still do dinner-and-a-movie dates, but during calving season, our dates get even cheaper.  This time of year, catching a glimpse of each other is like seeing a blur coming and going to and from the house. It’s rare that we leave the place for any length of time unless it’s to do something essential like grocery shopping or fueling up a vehicle. This is when our kids test us because we’re cranky due to calving dilemmas, feeling overwhelmed, sleep deprived, and in need of a breather—a date night. Instead of those dates of old that ended before dawn, we resort to going out before dawn.

The advantages to a cheap date is that nothing allows more “alone time” for us away from our kids than checking cows on a cold pre-dawn morning. Kids are glad to be left undisturbed on weekend mornings as much as we love the peace and quiet together. The best part is not having to find and pay for a babysitter.

He picks me up promptly at the house and I hop on the back of the four-wheeler. We have our drinks on the fly—coffee in travel mugs. Instead of light coming from the big screen, we enjoy the glow from the spotlight making three-quarter circle rotations back and forth across the calving lot.

Holding onto his waist isn’t as romantic as holding hands and having to forfeit the aroma of hot buttered popcorn for the scent of manure and afterbirth isn’t as appetizing, but doesn’t bother us. We also get the surround sound experience of the great outdoors: bawling or cud-chewing cows and the sputtering of the four-wheeler.

With movies, we know there’s an unpredictable outcome. When checking cows, we know what the outcome will be, but the how of the outcome is the thrill of suspense: a set of twins, a backwards calf, a new one from a cow that wasn’t calving earlier or got missed on the last check.

With cheap dates, we don’t have to be quiet, like we do at the movies. In between stops to record ear tag numbers of cows that calved, we bring each other up to speed on the latest problems with livestock or kids that seem to enjoy making our lives more complicated or challenging. We pick up where we left off on conversations previously interrupted by our kids or start new ones.

Cheap dates are great—they don’t cost much or take a lot of time getting ready for and in the end, there’s no hangover.

This column was originally published March 18-24, 2007

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