Friday, May 25, 2012

how to surprise your partner this weekend

Scene: Friday or Saturday night. L and I are in the car deciding where to go to dinner.

L (driving): So, where are we going?
HG: I don't know, honey. What are you in the mood for?
L: I could go for anything, Mexican, maybe, Italian? Greek gyros?
HG: Hmm, I don't know. Whatever you want.

And we usually end up at one of three restaurants that have been tried and true and where we don't even have to open the menu. We were, however, in a rut. And I felt bad about this. So we tried Yelp and OpenTable--both great sites but it felt like work as we read through menus. A couple weeks ago on a Friday morning I had an epiphany. Friday nights we could go wherever but Saturday nights I was going to research new restaurants and surprise L. It might be Algerian or Coastal, French or a little diner in a small town near the border but it was going to be new.

I asked L. if this was cool. Saturday nights were mine. He chuckled and said "Go for it. This out to be fun." And so that Friday I researched restaurants on Yelp and OpenTable and asked for help from friends (old and new) on Twitter. I was surprised at the folks who responded on Twitter, people like @FrancisFoodie and @mattsinthemkt who gave me some fun, new, thoughtful ideas for new restaurants.

Our first one was an Italian place called Lucia. I made a reservation through OpenTable. That morning L. asked me "So, where are we going?"
"It's a surprise!" I said.
He chuckled "I kinda like this."

Later that evening, we got in the car. L. was driving. We put the top down. "OK, my little wonder, where are we going?"

"Oh no," I said. "It's not like that. You'll find out when we get there. I'll be your GPS!"

L. looked at me in horror. "No. Definitely no. That is where I draw the line. No. No.You. You are a. . .you are an anti-GPS!" He shook his head.

He was, of course, right. If there is someone with a poorer sense of direction, I would like to meet you. I will get lost going to the next town which is weird for someone who traveled around the globe for my job.  L. bought me one of the very first generation GPS's because I was ALWAYS lost. He would shake his head and look at me after I arrived someone hours late because I was lost.

"How did you EVER get anywhere before GPS?" he would ask me. He only felt that I was safe when we were on Martha's Vineyard (an island) and he knew that I couldn't get in trouble because if I reached water I had to stop and go back. I was like a bumper car safe in a small space.

"I got this," I said. That morning I had meticulously mapped out our route and as we backed out from our street I said go left, go left, now right, keep going. . .

A couple times he looked at me doubtful while he was driving "You're sure? Go left? You're SURE?"

"Yes, we have a reservation. We're good. I promise."

L. laughed. "I like this. This is kind of cool."

With a final direction of "Go right, right here, go right," we pulled into the parking lot of the restaurant. Sitting by the big open windows we had an incredible dinner at a new place. I asked L. what he thought about this new Saturday night idea.

"I like it. I like that you surprised me." He smiled at me. I know that he works long hours and makes decisions all day. If I could take one decision off his table, would that help? It did. In fact, it added some fun back into the typical "So, where do you want to go?" discussion.

I asked L. if he wanted to do it again "Every weekend," he said. "I love this." He laughed as we finished the gelato. "You are awesome, Taylor." There was one caveat.

"I know. Map it out. I know."

This weekend, try this with your partner. Go to Yelp, Open Table, post a message on Twitter and find a new place. Surprise your family or your partner with a new experience. Get out of your routine. Have an adventure!

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