The Night We Became Old

Van and his date Dixie the night of the Valentine's dance--Lindsay Kay Clark photography

On Friday night my teenage nephews Van and Layton asked if they could bring their dates over to our house after the Valentine's Dance. The plan was to play Rock Band in our den from ten until midnight. Our house lends itself well to this sort of function. The den is a solitary place where we put the tv and books, but was much abandoned until winter swept along and we found salvation in a PBS education.

But moments before the double date was set to arrive, Chup and I couldn't find our Rock Band disc. Anywhere. (Take a minute to look around your house, do you have our Rock Band disc?) I sent a frantic message to both boys saying NO DISC! But about fifteen minutes later they showed up anyway.

"We'll just hang out, if that is ok." Said Layton as he shuffled in the door.

"Sure! Fine!" I said as I waved the crowd down to the den.

Chup set up Netflix to stream through our X-box so we get movies on demand. I am using all these terms I really don't understand here. I think you get the picture. I assumed they would want to watch a movie, so I gave them the option. More than anything I wanted to be the cool aunt. Just cool.

The dates got comfortable on one couch with pillows and blankets. I gave Van the controls and guessed he knew what he was doing. Why does it take me seven months to figure out the X-box controls when kids these days make it seem so easy? Anyway, they started to flip through all the available options. I unobtrusively left them to do their thing.

But I got to thinking, maybe I should offer them treats.

I mean, treats always go with a movie right?

But then I didn't want to be the attention-seeking, annoying aunt that keeps showing up for silly reasons.

But then I remembered I had a lot of treats to offer.

So I took down some bowls of gummi bears, chocolate-covered pretzels, Pirate's Booty and chocolate raisins.

"Just in case you like treats." I said softly, ducking below the tv and quietly presenting them on the coffee table.

Then I realized I had offered a bowl of chocolate raisins.

Chocolate raisins.

Only old people like chocolate raisins.

Should I say something about the chocolate raisins? I thought.

Because what if chocolate raisins are embarrassing to the boys?

(Like when your grandma offered you black licorice and you had to respectfully eat it.)

So I said, "Chocolate Raisins!" (Pretend chuckle)"I am sorry. Only old people like me like chocolate raisins!"

But they were all really nice.

"Oh no! We like chocolate raisins!" They all seemed to say in unison.

So I left the chocolate raisins there--pride intact--and went upstairs unnoticed.

But that is when Chup entered the den with his loud improv voice.

"He he! What have we here?"

Oh no. I thought.

"Watching a movie are we?"

Teenagers mumbling.

"You know, there should be a bible's space between you and your date!"

Not the chastity jokes.

Teenagers awkwardly laughing.

"Well. You guys sit here. And Courtney and I will sit on this couch over here with a spray bottle and our eyes on you."

A spray bottle?

Teenagers shifting uncomfortably.

I couldn't believe my ears. In our marriage this is my role. I am the goofy one, the one who regularly delivers flat jokes, who makes people have to pretend to laugh. Chup sits collected while I make the room squirm. He has long refined the art of censoring my silliness and replacing my odd jokes with his better ones. This was a new frontier here.

Before he could continue, I asked him to come up the stairs to um . . . help me . . . with . . . something. He left them with one more one-liner and dutifully came to answer my call.

"Did you forget?" I asking whispering.

"Forget what?" He said, seemingly pleased with himself.

"What it is like to be a teenager and have your goofy relative say embarrassing things in front of your date?"


"You are right. I did forget." He said thoughtfully. "Thanks for reminding me."

The rest of the evening went well. They watched a movie, had brownies and ice cream and left some time after I had gone to bed. I mean I went to bed but couldn't fall asleep because I'd have outbursts of laughing about the spray bottle line.

A spray bottle?

The next morning as I was cleaning up I noticed they left the bowls of treats on the table. Most of the treats were consumed, gummi bears, chocolate pretzels and Pirate's Booty were gone.

But the chocolate raisins remained untouched.

Just by way of public service . . .
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