I was walking down the street with my latest Tinder date when his pants suddenly fell down around his ankles. You won’t find fairy tales written with scenes like this, but it’s a great example of the kinds of hilarious real-life things that happen when you are a married woman in her forties, in an open relationship, out on a date.
After a quick recovery and some under his breath mumbling about forgetting to put on his belt, Mr. Wears-his-pants-a-little-too-low and I walked a few more blocks to arrive at a local Japanese restaurant for dinner.
When the waitress came to take our order, he ordered a variety of sashimi and other assorted raw-fish items, and I ordered my usual Japanese restaurant meal… chicken teriyaki. My date looked back at me, shocked I didn’t order sushi. But I was born and raised in the Midwest, and apparently you can take the girl out of Illinois, but you can’t take the grilled-meat-with-a-side-of-starch out of the girl.
When his poke taco appetizer arrived, he told me it was amazing and that I had to try it. I wrinkled my nose and told him I don’t like raw fish. He chuckled and insisted I try a small bite. Turns out I do strange things to impress someone on a first date, so even though I was 100% sure it would take all my willpower just to swallow what would certainly be slimy and gross, I decided to go ahead and take a teeny tiny bite.
It. Was. Extraordinary.
The swirl of the tender texture of raw salmon, paired with savory sauce and cool wasabi mayonnaise was out of this world. It was like a taste explosion in my mouth. In the next few minutes, I completely devoured the salmon taco as well as the tuna taco, not even leaving a crumb for my date. When I was finished, he raised his eyebrow at me and I laughed, nodded and conceded that the poke tacos were indeed amazing.
Mr. Yes-sushi-no-belt didn’t end up being someone I wanted to see again, but I’ll never forget our date. Because not only did I learn that I been putting myself in a no-poke-taco box erroneously for decades, but I also felt inspired to consider what other unnecessary boxes I might have been putting myself in.
I started going out on the “strangest” dates. I went to a poetry night and loved it despite a life-long belief that I didn’t like poetry. I threw caution to the wind and went dancing, something I swore off way back in 1988, after an intensely embarrassing video I made at Universal Studios dancing to Debbie Gibson’s “Out of the Blue”
I also started noticing my husband doing the same on his dates. He, man-who-does-not-cook, started cooking on his dates! And he, man-who-does-not-nap, took a nap on a beach with a date! Interestingly, my initial reaction was to be jealous that his dates got these things from him and I didn’t, but then I started to see how these were just the first steps to a larger trajectory of discovery that I would happily be a part of.
In the years since my sushi date, my husband and I continue to shock each other by learning new things about ourselves, and have happily noticed many of our new insights have found their way back to our marriage. For instance, we now dance and cook together… something we didn’t do during the first two decades of our (then monogamous) relationship!
Of course, not everything translates back into our relationship. He still doesn’t like sushi (his Midwestern roots are apparently stronger than my own), and I still don’t like rough sex (though I haven’t ruled out the possibility at some point in the future). So we will continue to “outsource” these activities with our platonic and not-so-platonic friends.
This really isn’t a story about non-monogamy though. It’s a story about how somewhere in my twenty years of marriage, I lost my youthful growth-oriented mindset, accidentally replacing it with an “I am the way I am” and “my husband is the way he is” mindset.
I held so strongly to the belief that my husband didn’t cook that I didn’t allow for the possibility that he could. I never asked for assistance in moments where it would have been helpful, let alone suggest cooking as an activity that we might enjoy together.
I am so grateful to Mr. Pants-around-his-ankles for reminding me that neither myself nor my husband are limited to being “the way we are”, that we can, in fact, continue to grow and evolve. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go get some poke tacos.
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© Pam Costa, 2018