Us: Date Night

Hope and I enjoy each other. As cliché as it may sound, we really are best friends. Even today, after 30 years of being married, we still enjoy sitting on the back porch and talking. As anyone with one or more children is fully aware, finding the time to talk with each other is a bit more difficult in the throes of child rearing. If you don’t force it to happen, it won’t. One thing Hope and I deemed necessary during this time was to have a date night every Thursday night. In our case, the word date was loosely defined as a couple of hours out of the house, together, regardless of destination or financial means. It was important to get away for a short period of time and see each other without interruption.

But there were impediments that had to be worked around. One was finding a person to stay with the kids while we were out and the other was finding the funds to bankroll the night, including paying said person who was staying with the kids. Our solution was to exploit poor college students with the allure of free use of the washer and drier (plus dinner) all for the privilege of hanging out with our children on a weeknight. Finding takers wasn’t as easy as we thought, but eventually God brought along the perfect person to fill the role.

My job at the time was with a start-up company that was creating interactive software for a new technology called compact disc-interactive. I was the manager in charge of the large art department, which included cell animators, computer and traditional illustrators and graphic designers. One of the interns that I hired to help us plow through the digital colorizing of the thousands of animation cells was Ron Nieto. Ron was not a typical college student in that he had served in the Air Force and was now back in college at Florida State, working to complete an art degree. He was also unique because he was earning school credit during his internship, as well as a paycheck, and, when I had to cut loose all of the interns, he was the only one I kept because he needed the credit to graduate. Maybe it was the raw desperation he showed in begging me to keep him around, or maybe it was my desperation in my search for a babysitter, but I eventually persuaded him to give our Thursday night “deal” a tryout.

And it ended up being a great fit. The kids loved him and he grew to love our kids. He got his laundry done for free and we even let him use our spray starch when he ironed in order to get the military creases in his undershirts. He took care of bath time, prayer time and bedtime. He was so good at it that Hope and I would consciously not return home until we were sure he had everyone down and out, even if it meant stopping by the bookstore to burn an hour after we finished dinner and whatever errands we needed to run.

It has been over twenty years since the first date night and we stayed friends with Ron. We were there when he met Eve, held their rehearsal dinner in our back yard, waited in the hall of the hospital when their first child was born and have enjoyed each other’s company ever since. All because a poor college student needed clean clothes and a poor married couple needed an occasional quiet dinner alone. 


Anonymous said...

All four of you best friends are a perfect fit.
Everyone should experience friendship such as yours .
you are truly blessed .
Don and Connie

Paige said...

I didn't know you guys have known each other that long! That's wonderful!!!!