On Thursday, C. came home from work early. He had been at a conference that week up in Santa Clara, so his time was more flexible than usual, and he made it home while the sun was still up. I was talking to my sister on the phone at the time, but as soon as I hung up, he gave me a grin and said, “Dress up warmly, we’re going on an ADVENTURE.”
Well, I put on my coat, my scarf, and my jaunty red hat – the first presentable thing I ever knitted. I even grabbed my gloves. I know from experience that if C. thinks I might be cold, I almost certainly will be very cold. So we headed out the door and walked down the hill, and through the neighborhoods across the street. When we reached Capitol Expressway, the large road close to us, we turned right.
Now, we’ve taken this walk several times before. It leads to McDonald’s. They offer a chicken sandwich that is a pale imitation of Chik-fil-A, but that will hit the spot when you need it but the closest Chik-fil-A is 70 miles away. So I thought, “Adventure, hah! He just wants to dress up a visit to McDonald’s to make it sound more like a legitimate date for our date night.” In this, I humbly admit I was being totally unfair to C. But then again, he thinks it’s funny to encourage and then subvert my expectations, so you don’t have to feel too sorry for him.
The walk also leads to a light rail station, which is where we were actually headed. We had talked about using the train system before, but we had never actually done it. So, we waited for the train while the sunset colored the retreating rain clouds that had been hanging over the house all day, and when it came, we got on like old pros.
We rode the train through downtown San Jose to a stop in front of the Santa Clara convention center where, not coincidentally, C. had been for the conference. We then walked a mile past block after block of empty, or mostly empty, office buildings, which during the day house the employees of Yahoo, Avaya, Bandai Namco, and other companies I haven’t heard of.
Our destination was one of the few remaining Bennigans in the country. When C. and I were first dating, Bennigan’s was one of our main dinner places. In fact, our very first official date, in March of 1996, included dinner at Bennigan’s, and we gave them lots of business throughout our undergrad years and when we were first married. And then we thought they went out of business while we were in Gainesville, so it was a delight to be surprised with dinner there at about our 16th-year mark. A blast from the past, as they say. Of course, the menu has changed slightly in the years since we’ve been there, but they did still have a few of our favorites. So C. got major husband points for a sweet and surprising date night.
We had a bit more adventure on the way back – not so sweet but rather exciting. We headed back to the station, hopped on the light rail and were on our way home. Several stops down the line, a couple of young men hopped on the train. As it slid out of the station, one lit up a cigarette while the other shifted around restlessly. Before we got to the next station, the train slowed down and stopped, and the restless young man moved to pacing, and eventually to prying at the doors. As he kept trying to open them, his muttered expressions of frustration got louder and more agitated. The train stayed motionless, and I was thinking that the poor guy must be really claustrophobic to be so bothered by being stuck in an uncrowded train car. At this point he opened his backpack, rummaged around, and pulled out something that at first shock I thought was a knife. I glanced again and thought, “oh no, that’s just an ipod and some headphones or something. he must be looking to calm down by listening to music.” But no, I was right the first time. It was a knife. He proceeded to slide the blade between the doors and try again to force them open. The other guy crushed out his cigarette on the floor and came to help him, but it was no use, and pretty quickly they gave up, and he put his knife away. Then they moved down the car away from us and sat down. And then the train began moving again, and it was soon in the station. The doors didn’t open right away, but when they did, a policeman came in. He made a beeline for the man with the knife, cuffed him and took him off the train, sat him down outside and started asking him questions.
Now, I was impressed by how calmly the arrest, or whatever it was (he never said he was arresting him) went. The young man was quiet, the policeman was quiet, no one seemed overly anxious, everyone seemed ready to be reasonable. I also revised my ideas about why the guy might have been so nervous about being stuck. We heard something about him being pulled over in a car earlier in the evening, so maybe it wasn’t claustrophobia that had him prowling like a caged tiger, maybe he was worried about getting caught for whatever he did get caught for. At the same time that he made me a bit nervous, I also felt sorry for him because he hadn’t actually bothered anyone on the train – deliberately, I mean – so I hope he didn’t get arrested for his ill-judged, but harmless, actions while with us.
Exciting, no? After that station, everything else went smoothly, and we got home with no further adventures. The whole thing took nearly 5 hours, and we got home early enough to play a couple of board games, both of which I lost. But, as C. had planned and executed such a successful date night, I guess it’s okay that he won in the last part of it.