It was the 1960s: John F. Kennedy was president, crowds were dancing to The Beatles, Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream, and my mom and dad were dating.
As college students, they frequented Chinese culture club dances – one of the few organized social gatherings available to them – and it was there that they first met. My dad spilled a drink. My mom wiped it up, at which point it was “love at first sight” (as Dad distinctly recalls). From then onwards, the world of New York City was their oyster. They went to the movies, attended bowling parties, visited the World’s Fair, rode the Staten Island Ferry, had ice cream at Jahn’s, ate hot dogs at Nathan’s in Coney Island, went camping, and drove up north to Bear Mountain and Lake Welch Beach. Two years later, they were married. A few years later, my brother was born, and a few more years later, I was born.
With two kids in tow, there were still ice cream trips and camping adventures, but there was also a surplus of other activities: birthday
parties, play dates, soccer games, tennis practice, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, ballet classes, horseback riding lessons – and of course, Chinese New Year, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the occasional wedding across two large extended families.
It was not until much later, when I was off at college, that they became a more intimate party of two again. While away, I remember the first time my mom told me, “Oh, your dad and I are going to a movie tonight.” Hold the phone. My parents go on dates?
Like any other child, I never imagined my parents as a couple – as two people that, before they became the family chef and driver, had an active social life.
Without question, there is much to be said about spending quality time together as a couple – whether you have young children or ones that have flown the coop. So this month, to keep the romance alive, we offer 50 date night suggestions (p51), as well as an article on weathering rough patches as a couple abroad (p58).
It is impressive that, after 47 years of marriage, my parents are still going on dates. Sometimes it takes the form of camping at Hermit Island (they haven’t skipped a single year since first going), seeing the latest Academy Award-winning film on the big screen, or listening to the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center. And every so often, my dad, who would rather be watching a football game, indulges my mom – a theater fanatic – by accompanying her to a Broadway play. My parents might not consider any of these outings an actual date, but either way, it’s nice to know that they still enjoy spending time together: just the two of them.