For those of you who have kids, I know you’ll understand this. For those of you who don’t, just trust me.
When the stars align just so, and your kids are gone for the night, something happens. A sense of giddiness and anticipation, along with their country cousins panic and dread, set in, because you know there’s only one thing to be done: the romantic getaway.
Have to have it. Now or never. And the kids are never gone. Well, maybe one is, but then the other isn’t. But for both for them both to be gone at the same time? This is a precious gift indeed, and you have to have a sublime romantic romp now, now, now.
It’s all about sex. Crazy, wild, raunchy hotel sex.
Sure, as parents you still have sex now and again, but it’s just not what it was. The spontaneity, the sense of the new, the buoyancy that comes from a carefree life before kids and mortgages, that’s what the getaway is supposed to recreate. That’s the expectation.
And, as with most things in life, having that expectation practically dooms the whole enterprise.
My wife Linda booked us a hotel room overlooking the ocean in a seaside town about an hour away from home. After arriving, we took a stroll along the beach, a dip in the pool, had the aforementioned hotel sex, enjoyed a nice Italian dinner, then retreated to our room for an early night of reading and watching the Giants baseball game. We woke up, had a light breakfast at a nearby coffee house, went back to our room for a little more reading, then headed home.
That’s the Reader’s Digest version. Sounds great, and it was, but...(with inflated expectations there’s always a but..).
Right after our arrival, during our stroll on the beach, we were treated to the sound of a crying toddler and his impatient father spitting at him between clenched teeth, “You will shut your goddamn mouth now, Tyler.” The crying toddler didn’t bother Linda and I one iota. The father’s ugly reply did, though.
So we decided to shake it off with a dip in the water. Linda preferred to watch. Wise choice. Within two seconds my calves were numb. Now I knew why everyone else out there was in a wetsuit, booties included.
Thankfully the pool at the hotel was heated, but it was so small that if I shoved too hard off one end, I pretty much guaranteed myself a concussion on the other end. And, of course, the corpulent trio simmering in the adjacent hot tub had no intention of ever leaving it.
I could only shoot them longing, reproachful glances, but they somehow didn’t catch my meaning. That’s fine. I didn’t want to go into that superheated bacteria soup anyway.
Plus I had bigger and better things on my mind: Wild. Nasty. Animal. Sex. Linda and I had even talked about bringing along some massage oils we had left over from the last time, two years ago, that our kids were both gone overnight.
I took a quick shower to rinse off the sand, chlorine and memories of the chubby hot tub trio and grouchy father, wrapped a towel around my waist, combed my hair and jumped into bed, ready for our massages. Well, it turns out neither of us remembered to pack the oils, so Linda, bless her heart, grabbed one of those little complimentary bottles of body lotion that live in that wicker basket alongside the brittle, waxy bars of soap and cheap shampoos.
But nevermind. We lotioned up and made the best of it. And it was fun.
Dinner time. Except for a taqueria around the corner, there really was only one option in town: the hotel’s own Italian restaurant. We ate ourselves silly, she had two glasses of wine, I had two glasses of beer, and we both left the table feeling way too thick and logey. All I wanted to do at the point was lie down and read, but Linda convinced me that the only way to stave off a debilitating food coma was to take a little walk. Lovely idea, actually. It was near sunset, and the beach was cast in an impossibly warm orange light.
Not a minute into our stroll on the little hillside just above the beach, though, we stumbled upon a photo shoot. Big black light baffles were set up, and a crew was taking pictures of three twenty something girls in micro-bikinis straddling motorcycles.
Linda grabbed my hand, pulled me along, and pronounced the whole thing “trashy.” I mumbled in agreement (at least I hope I did). On our way back, Linda inexplicably elected not to retrace our steps, but instead to rappel down a near sheer cliff in the dangerously waning light to get to a different path, one which happened to spare us another distasteful view of the trashy goings-on above.
My eyes were polluted no further.
Reading quietly in our room later that night, Linda’s cell phone rings. It’s one of her business partners (she is part owner of a restaurant) calling to ask her to deal with an irate customer who claims to have found a little piece of plastic in her food. This happened a week ago, and Linda’s partner was the first to hear about it, and was given the customer’s phone number. But he chose to ignore it. Now that the customer had returned and was threatening some vague legal action, he wanted Linda to take care of the problem – and right away. Slightly annoyed, she told him she was taking Sunday off for our romantic getaway, to which he replied that we should’ve gone to the Ritz Carlton in Half Moon Bay instead, where they were giving away rooms for 60 bucks a night, far less than what we were paying not to enjoy the hot tub.
We shook off the buzz-kill of the call, and watched the Giants lose a heartbreaker to the Rockies, 10-9.
We woke up groggy the next morning and instantly cancelled our plans to stop by the “Fog Festival,” some kind of sad attempt by the local chamber of commerce to drum up excitement and money for the town. Linda and I both decided the last thing we wanted to do was walk past overeager merchants selling hand dyes scarves and seashell sculptures, and not buy anything.
Plus we missed the kids. Or at the very least, I wanted to see whether our older son had actually walked the dog as promised.
When we got home, Linda and I unpacked the suitcase. Putting away some of our clothes, we spotted it. There, on top of the bedroom dresser. The massage oils. Good thing about oil, it takes forever to evaporate. Should be good-to-go for our next romantic getaway!