“Enjoy life with the wife you love all the days of your fleeting life . . .”

(Ecclesiastes 9:9a HCSB)

I had the perfect date planned for my young bride. We had only been married a few months and didn’t have a lot of money, but I wanted to give her the best experience and memory that could be had on a limited budget.

I had arranged with a friend who managed a KOA campground to let us go to the picnic area after hours. He also set aside one of the paddleboats for us to use in the lake. There was going to be a full moon and the weather was predicted to be clear. It was going to be the perfect romantic evening! The best part was that she had no idea I had planned it. It was going to be a complete surprise. It was going to be epic!

Well, it was epic, sort of like the burning of Troy or Ulysses’ journey home. Murphy’s law was in full effect, “What can go wrong will go wrong.”

We arrived right before dusk, laid out our blanket, and placed our picnic basket on it. I thought it would be a nice gesture to take a little stroll before we ate and let her tell me about her day. Besides, I needed it to get just a little darker so we could picnic by candlelight. 

When we returned to our blanket, I opened the picnic basket to retrieve the candles.  I was greeted by a colony of ants helping themselves to our food. They were also all over our blanket. I had inadvertently laid the blanket over an ant nest. I removed the basket and quickly picked the blanket up and snapped it in the air to fling all the ants off. 

Newton’s law is true. What goes up must come down. That includes ants. Of the ten thousand or so ants I sent flying into the air, nine thousand, nine hundred, ninety-nine landed on me when they came back down. They weren’t happy. It must’ve taken an hour and a half of flailing to swipe them off.

Dinner was ruined but the full moon was now on display in full glory against the velvet of a clear night sky. I was determined to make this a night my wife would never forget! I apologized for dinner, took her by the hand, and told her I had another surprise waiting for her. She smiled and nodded her head but her eyes betrayed the fact that she had had about all the surprises she could handle for one day.

Not to be deterred, I led her to the landing and we climbed into a paddleboat and set out to the middle of the lake to view that glorious moon. We soon heard what sounded like the buzz-hum of a twin-engine plane and saw a dark cloud forming and coming straight toward us. 

The local mosquito population must’ve called all their cousins from a five state area to come enjoy the barbeque of the two fools who would serve themselves up in the middle of a lake during a full moon on an autumn night. The mosquito cloud descended on us and by the time we made it back to the pier we were covered in half-dollar sized whelps. We were done. We ran back to our blanket, picked everything up, threw it in the trash, and ran to the car. 

I was very quiet on the way back home. I was beyond disappointed. My big surprise romantic evening had been a disaster. I had succeeded in one thing though. I had given my wife an evening she would never forget. To this day, if I just mention the word, “Surprise,” she gets a little queasy. 

The evening wasn’t a total loss, however. Danni suggested we stop by a grocery on the way home. We did and she went in and bought us something for dinner and Benadryl lotion for our bug bites. She also bought bananas, chocolate syrup, and walnut sprinkles.

When we got home, we rolled the bananas in the chocolate and walnut sprinkles then put them in the freezer. We ate bacon and eggs for supper and had half-frozen chocolate and nut covered bananas for dessert. It was epic! Though my plans turned out disastrous, Danni saved the evening with her great attitude and improvising. It’s one of my favorite memories.

The moral: Make it a point to enjoy life with your spouse. Life is full of disasters and disappointments. Don’t let them divide you. Improvise instead. Have fun! Life is fleeting. Make it epic!

© Paul R Downing

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