The Rockwood Files: A Tale of Two Nights

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

One night 12 years ago…

The night didn’t get started until 9 p.m. My friend JC and I, whose single-girl apartments were a few doors away from one another, considered it uncool to be seen out any earlier than nine o’clock. What would be the point anyway? Everybody knew that nothing worth talking about happens before nine.

We spent a couple of hours changing our minds about outfits, hair and make-up choices. After we were satisfied that our look was just right, we climbed into the car and headed toward a restaurant/sports bar where the bartender was cute and the mozzarella sticks were hot. We snacked and laughed and talked to old friends and new faces, discussing clothes, cars, gossip, and, most importantly, where we were headed later in the night to go dancing.

As the clock closed in on 11 p.m., we paid our tab and went to a dance club located in the basement of a downtown restaurant known for its ability to pack in a huge crowd for “Trash Disco” night. We loved dancing to those songs that hit the charts when we were still toddlers.

We danced with just about any guy who asked us to as long as we liked the song and the guy wasn’t handsy. If we met a nice guy or two along the way, it was a pleasant surprise. But we were smart enough to know our chances of meeting a soul mate during “Trash Disco” night weren’t great. We weren’t there to date. We were there to dance. And we did – right up until the last song played at 2 a.m. and the place closed down.

At 2:05 a.m., we drove a few miles away to a diner by the bowling alley where cranky old waitresses served breakfast all night to college kids not ready to go home yet. Without a moment of guilt, we both had a huge plate of biscuits and gravy because our metabolism was as energetic as we were. Then we went back to our respective apartments a little after 3 a.m. and called it a night – a really good night.

One night two days ago…

We asked the babysitter to arrive at 3:30 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon. Tom and I started getting dressed to go out around 3:10 p.m. We’d lost track of time because I was busy catching up on laundry while Tom paid bills online at his laptop. The sitter showed up and we were nearly giddy to see her. We were about to have a nice, leisurely restaurant dinner with another married couple where no one would squirm in her highchair or throw pepperoni or ask us for game tokens. Ah, a little slice of grown-up heaven.

Determined to milk every minute of babysitting time we’d reserved, we got out of there as soon as our friends arrived. But it seemed weird to have dinner at 4 p.m., so we found a place to have drinks and talk. Around 4:30 p.m. or so, we went to a Japanese restaurant where the guys had sushi and we girls had way too much fried rice. Our thirty-something conversation revolved around jobs, news, ice storm clean-up, chainsaws, funny chainsaw stories, taxes, tax software, kids, kids’ weird sleeping habits, kids’ latest bout with illness, recession and jokes about how we should not be eating this much.

Around 7 p.m., we drove to the movie theater to see what was playing. But we couldn’t find a movie that didn’t look stupid that was starting at a time that suited us. So we skipped the movies and had dessert instead. Two chocolate molten lava cakes later, there were more jokes about how we REALLY shouldn’t have had that dessert but it was totally worth it anyway. Back in the car, we agreed it seemed later than it actually was and it was probably best to get back home since the kids would be getting tired soon. But I think it was the grown-ups who were fighting back yawns. Our bellies were full and Monday morning work was looming on the other side of nightfall.

At home, we paid the sitter, tucked in our three kids, loaded the dishwasher and crawled under the covers. Glancing over at the clock, we were thrilled to see that it was only 9 p.m. We were warm in bed with our television remote and some recorded sitcoms on the DVR list. Thinking back, I realized my night was now ending at the same time it started a dozen years ago.

“Honey, we’re in bed at 9 p.m., you know. We’re really old, aren’t we?” I asked.

“Yes, honey. We’re really old. But I’m okay with it,” he replied.

“Me, too,” I said.

A sitcom or two later, we turned out the lamps and called it a night – a really good night.


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