…is somewhat of an oxymoron. I very much love my city – but you don’t live here for the great night life. Rather than being a ‘city that never sleeps’, Palmerston North is more like ‘a city that never quite gets out of it’s pyjamas.’
(One of our architectural gems – the telecom tower, taken from the forecourt of Muzza’s:)
Very occasionally (not nearly enough) Fraser and I have a date night. We so rarely get any time together without the kids, it is always a lovely treat. Unfortunately, the treat aspect is usually Fraser’s company, rather than what we end up doing….
We can’t go out until our youngest is in bed, so that’s about 8pm – this means we can’t do dinner and a movie because there isn’t time. We usually opt not to go to a movie, because then we don’t get to talk! So we go for dinner. (There was the time we aimed for an 8.30 movie, were slightly waylaid by children – rushed to the theatre, got there at 8.35 and the attendant refused to let us in because she had already emptied the till and cashed up for the evening. Sigh.)
Because we are constrained by budget – we can’t afford the city’s fancy $30-a-main type of places which no doubt would guarantee us a good time – so we go to the cheaper places and it is very hit and miss! Also, because we go out on a week night – we have more than once experienced super-fast service because we are the last customers and we get the distinct feeling the staff would like us to bugger off….a couple of times we have been sitting there eating our desserts and the waiter or waitress will start vacuuming around us. RUDE! Then we find ourselves back out on the street by 9.15 with nowhere to go and nothing to do….this is going to sound so tragic, but on these occasions we sometimes talk a walk to the central Countdown supermarket and walk slowly around the aisles, chatting and buying random things. I know, tragic. But, like I said, it’s just being together without kids which is nice, so yeah, we make the best of it!
It’s become a kind of running joke between us – our dire dates, our diabolical dinners. Fortunately, Fraser is amusing and charming, so the whole experience turns into a kind of self-made comedy night. It started on our wedding night, we got to Wellington around 6pm, for some reason inexplicable to me now, chose to go to a cheap Chinese restaurant on Courtney Place and I had revolting fluoro-yellow lemon chicken and -it seems- doomed us to 18 years of dodgy date nights…
Our most recent outing was last week, for our 18th wedding anniversary. On a trip to Wellington last year, my friend Maria took me to a humble little place on Cuba Street’s Left Bank which served the most sublime authentic Mexican food. Tomatillo salsa, black bean mole, fresh tortillas, chipotle sauce – AMAZING! & I had been craving it ever since. So I (stupidly, in retrospect) suggested we try a (relatively) new Mexican place here in PN.
Oh boy – it was possible the worst meal I’ve had for years. I ordered the vegetarian enchilada and what came was a soggy enchilada filled with watery, unseasoned stir-fried cauliflower and broccolli, covered in a thick blanket of tasteless melted cheese and large rivulets of sour cream, piped on with an icing bag. It was really astoundingly bad and light years away from the Mexican meal I’d had in Wellington. I did like the kitschy cactus glasses, though:
Ah well, the bad date night tradition continues! Perhaps next time we go out we should visit this Palmerston North institution, instead – legendary for their cheap fishburgers, scoffed by inebriated students and then usually soon after orally deposited into the gutter nearby. Good times!