overnight dates

What Does It Take to Get Laid When You Have a Kid?

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Last month I had the best night of, well, certainly the past year. My partner’s sister watched our kid for us while we paid $315 to stay the night in a hotel about a ten-minute drive from our house. We’d leave right before bedtime, and come home the next day around noon. Thanks to The Bachelor franchise, we have a name for this: the overnight date. Like on The Bachelor, “overnight dates” for new parents are mostly motivated by the desire to fuck without anyone else crying in the background. Unlike the reality show, unfortunately, no one’s footing the bill.

It’s a little absurd in concept: Did I just spent two years physically building a life with my own body, only to turn around and spend hundreds of dollars to escape it for less than 24 hours? (“It.”) Between dinner, parking downtown, cocktails, hotel tips, minibar, breakfast, and an inevitable pack of cigarettes we’d mostly fail at smoking in an attempt to be bad kids, I knew we’d end up spending over $500. We’d feel that $500. And for most of those hours our adorable child would be asleep anyway. He goes to bed at 7:30 p.m.!

Having felt the urge to skip down the sidewalk on mere two-hour date nights in the past, I knew I’d fully revel in our freedom. But those more-limited dates didn’t include a hotel room. They didn’t put such a huge dent in our budget, the kind of dent you can only justify if you, well, have a bunch of sex. You can’t really put a price on a bunch of sex. Or I can’t, not knowing the market rate. In any case, what if I managed to emotionally torpedo our sex-having, even after removing all obstacles and placing us in a context that practically radiates “people fuck here”? I started mentally rehearsing explanations to my therapist.

Agita aside, I tried to commit movie-theater schedules to memory and pored over Yelp to find restaurants with open animosity toward children. “What would I most like to do on Friday?” was not a question I’d asked myself in some time, if ever. It was like spring break if your friends’ competing interests and gas money were no longer complicating factors. I was curious if some of the women-with-kids had ever experienced such magic. Nicole runs a website and has two kids and a husband I have a crush on via Facebook. Had she experienced the heralded overnight date? “I SURE AS FUCK HAVE,” she told me. “It’s incredible! I have also gotten Judgment about this, of the Well, IIII could never variety, and I felt really bad for that person as I fell asleep at 8 p.m., full of room-service cheeseburgers and Malbec, in sheets I didn’t have to wash.” Christina, who’s a publicist and also a mom of two young kids, echoed Nicole’s enthusiasm: “We drank and ate and slept and went to a rock show and a movie. It was like five dates shoved into one day. It was the best.” I was encouraged, though still concerned. Neither of them explicitly mentioned it, but I think we all know what “incredible” and “the best” mean (totally doin’ it).

The morning of the date I got a barrage of chats from the man in question, Dustin. “We can just get a cocktail and snuggle,” he said. “I swear to god we don’t have to have sex.” I knew that was true but also I knew the pressure of it, the expectation of it, would be in the air. We had a toddler at home, I had just stopped breast-feeding, we barely had time to ourselves. All the clichés were true. The pressure was on, and I don’t handle pressure well. I used to cry on my birthday and anniversaries and am always disappointed at Christmas. This was like sex Christmas. How could I keep myself from ruining it for both of us?

“Remember what Dan Savage always says about special occasions,” my mom friend Jessica wrote to me. “FUCK FIRST.” I had not heard of this adage but I recognized its brilliance immediately. Jess continued, “Don’t have a burger and pack of cigs and get tired and then be like, ‘Ugh, it’s a special occasion so we have to have sex.’ Do it as soon as you arrive!!! Fuck first!” I wrote back breathlessly, affirming the sage advice and acknowledging this was my only option. If not, the whole time at dinner I’d running an inner monologue to myself, wondering if he was wondering, constantly asking myself, “Do I want to do it? Am I going to want to do it? Am I not going to be able to ‘get in the mood’?” FUCK FIRST. As Dan Savage himself puts it, “Remember, kids: A romantic meal doesn’t put you in the mood for a good fuck but a good fuck builds up an appetite for a romantic meal.” Literally!

I brought it up to Dustin later that day (and to anyone else who would listen; it was now, in abbreviated form [FF!], my mantra) and he was of course amenable, referring to “getting the desperate sex out of the way” to make room for the great sex. I’m not sure the two are mutually exclusive, but I didn’t want to belabor the point.  

The FF strategy is not necessarily easy if you are not on a so-called “overnight date,” it’s worth noting. Where do you fuck? Or when? How? Luckily, this was not my particular problem that night, and as soon as we checked into our hotel I made good on my solemn vow. Perhaps talking about it so much made it feel a little ridiculous — but it is difficult to have sex with a sense of irony, isn’t it? We headed to dinner with flushed cheeks and messed-up hair, we laughed, we drank, we aimlessly wandered the city. I felt accomplished and wise, sexually-speaking.

After dinner we walked around in the night air and got fancy cocktails then smoked our two cigarettes under an awning in the rain. It occurred to me we had to have a child just to experience the pure joy of spending time away from him. Or, you know, to fully appreciate being alive. Away from him. I thought about how much better I am at enjoying times like this now, when they aren’t always on offer. Or, as Christina put it: “I am always relieved that I like my husband. I always know I love him, but it’s nice to remember that I like hanging out with him, too.”

We went back to the hotel, had sex again, and only stayed up panic-texting the babysitter for a few minutes before we got to sleep through the night undisturbed. In the morning we stayed in bed reading with coffee, in bathrobes, and when we got back home we had the cutest, funniest little person running in circles around the house. I had honestly never been happier to see him.

What’s It Take to Get Laid When You Have a Kid?