From Chicken Soup for the Romantic Soul

Saturday Nights

Perfect love is rare indeed—for to be a lover will require that you continually have the subtlety of the very wise, the flexibility of the child, the sensitivity of the artist, the understanding of the philosopher, the acceptance of the saint, the tolerance of the scholar and the fortitude of the certain.

Leo Buscaglia

I think I need a Saturday night.

Oh, sure, I get my share of Saturday nights. There’s one at the end of every week—that one night where I can stay up to watch TV because (a) I haven’t worked all day, so I’m not totally exhausted, and (b) I don’t have to go to work the next morning, so I can sleep in if I decide to catch the eighty-seventh showing of An Affair to Remember on PBS’s late movie.

But, of course, there’s nothing on TV, unless you count the Nick-at-Night Beverly Hillbillies marathon. And—even though I didn’t have to go to the office that morning—I still had to buy the groceries, clean the house, plan meals for the week and carpool various children to soccer games, birthday parties and skating rinks. It’s Saturday night, but I’m still asleep before midnight.

Besides, that’s not the kind of Saturday night I’m talking about anyway. I’m pretty comfortable with these “Saturday night as the end of another fun-filled, action-packed week” gigs. What I need is a Saturday night the way it used to be, when each weekend held its own promise, its own potential, even its own magic. When the air was heavy with possibilities, and the night—dancing with nervous laughter and furtive gazes—was full of maybes.

Not the least of which, of course, is this—“Maybe tonight is a beginning.”

You remember what beginnings look like, don’t you? They’re usually lit by soft flicks of candlelight and set to the tune of a deliberate piano. You glance across the table and look into your companion’s eyes, holding his gaze for as long as possible before dropping your eyes. Your conversation is whispered and intense, filled with enough references to world events to prove that you’re informed and intelligent, and enough wry comments about pop culture to establish that you’re aware but not overly impressed. And then comes that moment when you make contact—when fingers accidentally brush while passing the bread basket, or your high heel collides with his loafer under the table as you shift ever so subtly in your seat— and suddenly you feel that spark, that heat, and your head is full of nothing more than that single unrelenting thought—maybe this one could be THE ONE.

Of course, most of those Saturday night companions didn’t turn out to be THE ONE, but that’s not what mattered anyway. What mattered was that feeling—the excitement, the potential, the nervous butterflies pirouetting in my stomach. It seems I’ve traded that feeling in—and I made a good deal, giving up that potential and excitement for a trusted companion, a faithful lover, something real and reliable and consistent. Still, every once in a while, I miss the possibilities and questions, the hopefulness and uncertainty. Every once in a while, I miss feeling something new, instead of “same old, same old.”

Every once in a while, I miss Saturday night.

And I miss more than just the actual date part, the shadowed restaurants and expensive meals and adult conversation part (although that in itself is something to long for as you watch your children inhale Happy Meals under the unforgiving glare of neon). I miss the preparation, the anticipation, the fuss and the fawning that led up to that moment when the doorbell rang and your palms started sweating just knowing he stood on the other side.

Hours before that moment arrived, I would begin my preparation. First would come the steamy shower, the thorough soaping down, the frothing shampoo and the extra-extra-rich conditioning. I wanted to be more than squeaky clean—I wanted to eliminate all the humdrum scents of the week so I could liberally apply my “scent of the season” (usually something heady, romantic and memorable—just the way I wanted the night to be).

Slipping into my terry cloth robe, I would plug in all the necessities—the hair dryer, the hot rollers, the electric brush. I’d curl each strand of hair around a roller as I practiced looking interested and mildly flirtatious, raising an eyebrow and tilting my chin at my reflection in the mirror. “Oh really? That’s fascinating,” I’d comment as I plucked my eyebrows. “Tell me all about it,” I’d say as I rubbed moisturizer into my elbows and hooked my laciest bra around my back.

I’d find just the right outfit—not too fancy (I didn’t want him to think I thought this was a “major occasion”) but not too casual (because nothing romantic ever started while wearing gray sweatpants). Something attractive, alluring and that would float around me as I swirled in his arms on the dance floor—just in case we ended up cheek to cheek.

I’d unroll my hair and flip my head to give my curls the right bounce, the proper fullness. Then I’d sprinkle baby powder in my shoes, spray my hair with cologne and apply a sweep of blush across my cheeks. I checked the mirror one last time as the doorbell rang. The butterfly wings started flapping, but I was ready.

“Ready for bed?”

A voice brings me into the present. Okay, so the voice is familiar, the butterflies are stilled. It’s been a long day, a Saturday, the kind we live now. The kind that is full of kids and carpools, Power Ranger videos and long, competitive games of “Aggravation.” The kind that finds me in sneakers (easier to chase a five-year-old!) and T-shirts (liberally stained with grape jelly).

The kind I wouldn’t trade for all the Saturday nights in the world.

Still, I was feeling a bit nostalgic, a bit wistful and more than a little bit old. I woke early the next day (why not? I was asleep by eleven) and touched Scott’s shoulder.

“I want a Saturday night,” I said, so close to his ear. “I want to be young and in love, to be open to new things, to be swept off my feet. I want a night that lasts into the early hours and leaves me breathless with the possibilities.”

He turned and smoothed my hair, disheveled from a hard sleep. “Um, will you settle for a Sunday morning?” he whispered. I held his glance a bit longer than I should have, and we began our dance in sweatpants as the sun came up on another week.

Mary Lebeau

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