Dating is different now. I don’t mean dating for singles, I mean us, moms and dads. Finding a sitter, putting together meals and snacks, setting out the diapers, wipes, pjs and back up outfits. It’s really kind of exhausting, and that doesn’t even begin to cover getting myself ready. Last night I was trying to do just that.
I’d had what could be described as a magnificently bad afternoon and I was finding very little joy in anything. It was sticky and hot, my legs, which had felt sleek and gorgeous earlier, now seemed like a wide expanse of prickly, pasty unsaleable land. My hair was brassy, lank and framed my face in a kind of unflattering rectangular helmet horror sort of way. I could hear Sean banging around downstairs, clearly he knew the climate upstairs and was wisely keeping everyone happy and entertained in the hope that I would find my way out of the suffocating cloak of appearance despair. It made me smile.
I paced the upstairs, back and forth across our room, peering in drawers and baskets hoping that I’d happen upon just the thing that would fix my hair, cover my legs and make me feel fabulous. No dice. I tried dousing my face and running my fingers through my hair, but realized it just made my hair seem frizzier. I’ll just check on everyone downstairs, take a quick break. I walked downstairs in jeans and a top, Sean looked up at me, the girls hanging on his arms, and gave me a hopeful smile seeing on my broken face what had happened.
“Why don’t you try a skirt?” His face innocent and upbeat, supportive.
I smiled, teeth gritted and hands clenched at my sides.
“Ok, be right back.”
I walked upstairs, my mood darkening with each step.
“A skirt. A skirt! My legs are stubbly. I don’t want to wear a damn skirt,” I thought resentfully.
I flipped the power on the iron and began the search for a skirt. It was a short search as I have only three that don’t go to a suit. One is a bright tangerine color with ruffles along the hem. It is far too short to be worn anywhere but in a sketch reenacting scenes from Pretty Woman. Another is black with delicate white polka dots, I think it’s chiffon, most certainly not appropriate for this occasion. That left a sweet periwinkle* pencil skirt purchase two weeks ago. Done.
I arranged the skirt on the ironing board. My hand pushed the weight of the iron to and fro, my spirits lifting as the wrinkles were smoothed away. The classic lines, knife-edge pockets, straight cut and wooden buttons made me giddy. I’d pair it with a crisp white t-shirt, red pumps and I’d have that sexier because I’m not trying too hard look. I walked downstairs expecting another smile, a real one. Sean would grin and nod approvingly, I giggled in anticipation.
Opening the door and stepping down I did get a smile, followed quickly by a hand in mine.
“Go back upstairs,” he said.
“C’mon.” And he led me upstairs.
“What are we doing?”
“You’ve gotta have soemthing sexier than that.”
“I’m wearing a skirt.”
“Really? I thought it was curtains, the fabric, the loops. Seriously, string a rod through it and it’d be functional window dressing.”
“Curtains? I thought this was sexy.”
“It’s a good outfit for working.”
“I thought it had that sexy understated thing going for it.”
“Uh, it’s good for work if you were a Red Cross worker circa 1941.”
“Fine. I’ll change.” I slipped the skirt off and pulled on jeans, as I shimmied into a slinky tank top Sean called out:
“Be sexy. You’re going to be in a room full of 22 year olds.”
“Just want you to feel good.”
“This isn’t helping.”
“Seriously? What? How about this: I came down, you suggested a skirt, I changed into a skirt and you compare me to a thick ankled WWII nurse. Now you are warning me about a room of 22 year olds.”
“Just stop talking.”
I heard him snickering as he went back downstairs. I angrily strapped myself into an unabashedly sexy black bra, followed by a skin hugging, jet black top. I added a bold lapis lazuli necklace, dangly earrings and a pair of peep toe black heels. 22 my ass. I walked downstairs and threw open the door.
Sean looked at me, a wildly satisfied smile beneath his dancing blue eyes. The girls looked up at me, taking in the sparkles and shoes as if Cinderella herself had just walked into the room. Sean took my hand and led me down the front steps. He had played me, but it had worked. I felt like a million bucks.
And so we began our date.
*Editor’s note: Sean would like it stated for the record that the skirt was a slate blue or drab gray at best.