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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, February 21, 2010

Date's a hit, with a little help from our friends

By Michael C. DeMattos

It had been a long time since my wife and I had been on a date, so when my daughter's best friend and her parents invited her for a sleepover we jumped at the opportunity. In fact, we accepted before our daughter had a chance to consider it. Of course we knew she would go for it, but still, it was telling that we did not wait for her to reply!

A week later we were sitting at the bar at Longhi's waiting for our table. I was dressed in slacks, a dress shirt and my good loafers. My wife was wearing jeans, a gorgeous (semi-revealing) blouse and pumps. I can't speak for her, but I felt 24 again! I even doused myself with a new cologne.

I had it going on, or so I thought.

Sitting just a stool away from my wife was a pretty young girl, probably no more than 25, enjoying a dinner of french fries and a fruit-covered creme brulee for dessert. When you are that young, your hearing is as sharp as your metabolism and soon she was offering us advice about our night out on the town. "After dinner you guys should head to Rumours. They mostly play old stuff from the '70s and '80s, but it's still a lot of fun."

I wasn't sure how to take it. She was being sincere, but I couldn't help but wonder if the magic potion I spritzed all over me the one that made me feel and look 24 again had worn off. She pegged us as Big Chill-ers and she was right.

Just to the left of me were three female EMTs. They were younger than my wife and I by about eight years and they, too, had good hearing or I am obnoxiously loud and don't realize it because they soon jumped into our conversation, too.

"If you have a baby sitter, you should stay out all night. In fact, you should get a room and really have some fun," said the one closest to me. It turns out she has two kids of her own and she and her husband try to get out whenever they can. They even play the "don't talk about the kids while we are out" game, but usually fail after just 10 minutes. Me and my wife have played that game and we usually make it to 20 minutes if we really try, but sadly not on this night, because our daughter kept texting us, asking how things were going.

For some reason, it seemed the world wanted us to have a good time. For the cute girl it was charity. I'm sure she saw her parents in us and probably felt guilty about the years of torment she put them through. For the EMTs it was empathy. They could relate. For my daughter it was just poor boundaries combined with a legitimate desire for us to enjoy ourselves. The crazy thing is despite the disturbances or perhaps because of them we did have a great time. It's nice to have the world pulling for you, regardless of the reason. I don't know about my daughter, but I'm looking forward to the next sleepover.

Michael C. DeMattos is on faculty at the University of Hawai'i Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work. Born and raised on the Wai'anae Coast, he now lives in Kāne'ohe with his wife, daughter, two dogs and two mice.