Dating was never exactly fun for me. Whether it was the pre-date stress of deciding what to wear, or trying not to sigh audibly when my date spoke of his robot factory in his mother’s garage, or pretending to listen attentively while another prattled on about his ex, the Duchess of Hades, my dating history was rife with more tales of woe, than tales of woah. But that all changed once I met and married my husband. Not only had I finally found the love of my life, but I figured I’d never have to worry about dating difficulties ever again. Apparently I was wrong.
We managed to have several years of difficulty-free-dating, however, our recent dating issues resulted from the arrival of our daughter. My husband likes to claim that we had our first date, post-parenthood, at the six-month mark. I disagree. Yes, it was the first time we’d gone out together without our daughter, yes, we had a specific date and time scheduled, and yes, we even had a driver. The fact that the reason for our outing was our long-awaited trip to the Kuwaiti DMV doesn’t seem to factor in to my husband’s thinking. Of course, I will admit that no where is it stated that a date cannot involve bureaucracy, cow-crossing road signs, a trip out to the edge of the desert near the new highway construction, three other people and a written test; so maybe I’m the one with the definition issues.
Having visited DMVs throughout the U.S., as well as in Egypt, and assuming that a Kuwaiti DMV was no different, we decided it was probably no place for a baby. So we asked a friend to watch our daughter for a few hours. Thirty minutes later, as we were racing along in the van, with our driver and three other eager wanna-be-legal drivers, my husband reached over and grabbed my hand. As delighted as I am typically with spontaneous gestures-of-affection, this time I merely smiled at him and said, “This still doesn’t make this a date. Now pass me the study guide.”
In the end, getting our Kuwaiti licenses was similar to that of getting our Egyptian licenses; you sit on a well-worn couch in some official’s office while people come and go and he stamps a lot of things; you drink scalding highly-sweetened tea (though in Kuwait, I was not offered any, only the three men were); then you shuffle in your group to the next office where another official with a desk-full of stamps proceeds to wildly stamp away as you wait. Then you’re done. No test, no questions, no nothing. License received. And not surprisingly, they managed to misspell all of our names.
Our real first date, according to me, occurred on our anniversary, almost two months later. Again, we asked our friends to watch our daughter, and dutifully dropped her off early with all her piles of accessories. Our plan was to go to dinner at Marina Crescent, grab dessert at the Chocolate Bar for an added layer of decadence, and then head back to pick her up.
Best laid plans and all… we neglected to fully comprehend one external factor: it was Eid al-Adha, the four-day Muslim holiday celebrating the Hajj and Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son. So, like us, the rest of Kuwait City (aside from our babysitters) also had designs on heading out for the evening.
So, for the next three hours, we crept along the Gulf Road, routinely being passed by motorcycles and teenagers on bicycles, even some strollers. We finally made it to the Marina Mall, and proceeded to get stuck in the parking lot. I actually started to have some mini panic attacks; there was no where we could go, there were parked cars on either side, and a line of awaiting cars that stretched out behind us and in front of us, leaving us truly and absolutely stuck.
We finally were able to reach an exit and promptly threw ourselves back into the non-moving traffic jam on the Gulf Road. After two-and-a-half hours (and about 20 miles) of this non-stop hilarity, we finally made it back to our apartment. By this point we were starving and in a complete fit of desperation, we parked and walked in to the Sultan Center grocery store, where I got a Taco Bell bean burrito and my husband grabbed something at McDonald’s. I wanted to leave and just go get our child and return home, but my husband wanted to eat there. So we perched on some white plastic chairs and ate our “anniversary” dinner while being surrounded by delighted screaming Arab six-year-olds. Rather surreal.
Over an hour later, we stumbled back into our apartment, sleeping baby in tow, put her to bed, and collapsed on the couch. We did manage to have a successful third-attempt at our first post-parenthood date. But this time we brought the baby, managed to pay our cable bill along the way and got our Chocolate Bar goodies to go. Not necessarily the romantic candle-lit dinners of our past, but there wasn’t one mention of robots or the Duchess of Hades, and for that I will be forever grateful.
Happy Fifth Anniversary, dear.