Last night Brandon and I went on a date. I love going on dates; it's time when I can talk to Brandon without anyone interrupting, I can eat dinner without having to clean up spilled milk or tell someone will you please just take a bite already, and I don't have to look at my messy house and think how somebody really ought to put that dirty diaper in the trash.
Usually Brandon and I go out to dinner, since it doesn't count as date night if I had to cook anything more than macaroni and cheese for the children. When we were in Cairo, dinner was about the only option anyway because anything else started too late or was too far away.
Yesterday, however, I wanted to do something different, so we went bowling. I hadn't thought there would be bowling here either, but Brandon had heard that it could be found somewhere, and my best friend Google confirmed that yes, you can bowl in Baku.
Our car has now arrived in country, but is waiting in the Chancery parking lot for its registration to be completed, so we went by metro.
The Baku metro was built during the Soviet era, and has remained almost entirely unchanged since it was built, except for the advertisements plastered all over the cars and stations. Sometimes while riding I imagine what the planners would have thought if they could have seen this American lady riding their metro in her green capitalist western coat. And then seen the ads for English classes plastered all over their chandeliered stations.
After riding in a Soviet metro car, we walked a few blocks and found our destination, Park Bulvar, a new shopping mall near the Caspian that houses Bennetton, Sbarro, Baskin Robbins, and an AMF bowling alley. Which is right next to the movie theatre sporting posters for The Vow, We Bought a Zoo, and The Artist. In Russian.
Brandon told me once about bowling on his mission in Ukraine. "It was us missionaries and the local Mafia with their kids. The children bowled while the parents sipped wine in their suits and Gucci loafers. We were the only people who could afford it."
After we forked over twenty manat for one game, I suddenly understood why the six year-old we had passed coming in had an iPhone, and the bar was much more classy than any I had ever seen at a bowling alley in the States. And when a few ladies showed up in the next lane with sparkly bangles, rings, tights skirts and cups of tea, I wondered if perhaps I hadn't dressed up enough for the occasion.
I turned to Brandon. "Are you sure we're still in a hardship post? Because I could almost be back in the U.S. Except everyone here is too classy for a U.S. bowling alley." And nobody would have paid fifty dollars for two rounds of bowling.
In the end, Brandon spanked me, probably doubling my score both times. But by then I wasn't looking because I didn't really care. I enjoyed spending a little time with Brandon being an American, bowling. Even if I did have to dress up for it.