My husband and I recently devised an ambitious plan: We'd take turns selecting an activity to do together once each month. It didn't have to be grand or expensive or expansive. Just something new. Something different. Something fun.
I went first. I signed up for group kayak lessons. The class was held at seven o'clock on Saturday night at a nearby community pool. This was going to be great. We'd float around in a kayak for a bit and then go out for an easy dinner afterwards. I fixed my hair and dressed for dinner, packing my swimsuit and a sequined cover-all in a tote bag.
It took all of five minutes to realize my perception of this activity was flawed. Eight students sat on the bleachers in swimsuits and sneakers. I was the only woman. I took my seat at the end of the row, conscious of my sparkling tunic and knee-high boots. My husband's loafers looked like tap shoes.
First, we had to walk outside and retrieve our kayaks from the truck parked at the end of the loading dock ramp. Picture a row of overweight and out of shape army ants carrying Legos across a jagged asteroid -- in the dark.
Our lesson began in the pool with the rolling of the kayak, where you tip the boat over and then roll it upside again using only the motion of your upper body. My kayak got stuck in the upside-down position, requiring a demonstration of the Basic Rescue Procedure after which I breached the surface like a massive wad of seaweed with a length of sequined flotsam knotted around the neck. My husband was equally unsuccessful with the rolling maneuver. For a long time he hung from the diving board, suspended by arms quivering with exhaustion. At one point he mouthed to me: "Help!" but by the time I got to him, the class was over.
Our next activity was much less taxing on the body. We attended a lecture on martinis. Taught by an inveterate bartender, the class followed the history of the famed cocktail from its origins (created to relieve kidney disorders and purify the blood) through various alterations and regional flavors, including a discussion on the unusual shape of the martini glass itself and culminating with a sample of the actual cocktail. After the first martini, a combination of grain alcohol and the essence of berry oil, my mouth was numb. After the third, I was seeing double. "Are they going to bring any food?" I whispered. My husband clunked his forehead into mine. "I can't feel my tongue." Crackers were offered after class, but by that time we were asleep in the back of a taxi.
Ballroom dancing seemed easy enough. We arrived at the dance studio to find we were the youngest students in the class by fifteen years, which was an appealing surprise. We assembled into two circles: Men on the outside, women inside. Then, the unexpected happened. The instructor requested that the women's circle move one step to the left, forcing each student to confront and dance with a stranger. My new partner was lovely. A widower in his eighties, he moved effortlessly while talking about his numerous lady friends in the building where he lived. My husband's partner was a large woman wearing Golda Meir shoes and a headband with a bow. He stood apart, staring at his feet and counting out the dance steps. After a few bars, she remarked: "You might want to move your hand around to the back" and he saw at that moment that his hand had migrated from the small of her back to her chest, covering her breast.
We contemplated a sunset canoe trip but stories of west nile virus made the marshes ever less appealing. I joined Living Social and Groupon but we're too old for things like the Beer Fest and Paint Ball. I hate to give up, but finding something new to do every month is not as easy as it sounds. Unless of course you're willing to hang from a wire with a trapeze harness wrapped around and between your legs. As for me, it's my turn to plan an activity next month and I'm welcoming suggestions from same-aged readers. Any ideas?
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