by JESSICA YOCHERER
Dinner and a movie. A movie and dinner. Dinner at home. A movie at home. Dinner in a restaurant. A movie in a theater. If this sounds like a re-cap of the last few dates you’ve been on, you’re not alone…
Many couples have unknowingly fallen into the boring date night trap. It’s a sneaky transition, usually accompanied by increased body hair due to decreased shaving. Before couples know it, they’re staring into each other’s glazed-over eyes while numbly eating the same chicken parmesan they had last week. Not all routines are bad, but too many can lead to dull shared experiences and a lifelong distaste for chicken parmesan.
While it may sound difficult to plan a special date, it’s no different than the effort it takes to call in reservations at a restaurant. With some minor planning, and an open mind to what constitutes a date, couples are free to explore a variety of different options.
“Josh and I have been together for almost six years and I should really write a book about all of the great and not-so-great things we’ve done together,” said April Bautista, a Marquette University student and Milwaukee resident. “Once we decided to recreate a competitive food show, like all of those ones on Food Network. We had to create a dish using Apple Jacks, lamb, jicama, and pearl couscous. Both of our dishes were terrible, but it was so fun just goofing around with him. The thing is, even if our adventure turns out horribly, you’re left with an awesome story and something to laugh about down the road.”
Like Bautista, more and more couples are breaking away from an antiquated date format and simply focusing on their time spent together. Here are some of insights from their mix of experiences.
Love in a glass house
During winter in Wisconsin, the stinging cold and five feet of snow can make people feel like they’re literally stuck at home. Thankfully for Milwaukee-area couples, all you need is a plush parka to get to and from a building to shake off your self-induced cabin fever.
An escape from the relentless feeling of winter isolation, is a trip to the Mitchell Park Conservatory, more commonly known as The Domes. Each dome is heated to a toasty range of 80-84 degrees, which will surely defrost even the most frigid of couples.
The three dome climates are desert, tropical and “floral show,” the last of which is similar to a warm summer’s day in Wisconsin.
“Our first date was at the Domes!” said Shannon Mortl, an Aveda Institute student. “I think just being there and doing something made it less awkward. It wasn’t like you were staring across the table at someone and stumbling through a conversation.”
Being in the midst of nature physically helps lower blood pressure and gives people an overall feeling of calm. By taking advantage of this natural phenomenon, couples can ease into a first date or lean on it to reconnect in a seasoned relationship.
With a student ID: $5
Discovery World: Not just for kids
While in a relationship, people spend countless hours learning about each other. They want to know what the other likes, his or her past, and what the future may bring. In this journey together, it can be a nice departure to learn about something other than your partner’s favorite “Friends” episode.
Discovery World, located on the lakefront in downtown Milwaukee, offers couples a chance to share a different kind of educational experience through interactive exhibits.
Currently, Discovery World is showing an exhibit called “Les Paul’s House of Sound.” Paul, a Waukesha native, invented the solid body electric guitar. The exhibit includes a recreation of his modest childhood home in Waukesha and a studio where patrons can have a virtual “jam session” with Paul himself. This is sure to beat sitting on the couch playing “Guitar Hero.”
“I read somewhere once that scientifically, couples become closer through sharing new experiences,” Bautista said.
To keep a relationship alive and moving forward, there must be an energy of curiosity and learning. By sharing these types of experiences together, you begin to feel some form of relationship rejuvenation.
Admission for adults: $16.95
Admission for students: $9.95
Which is the salad fork again?
After all is said and done, everyone must eat and there seems to be a misconception that all good restaurants are expensive.
Comet Café, located on Farwell Avenue in Milwaukee, is famous for their meatloaf sandwich, which has been featured on the Food Network show “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.” For $10 you can indulge in a heaping serving of this delicious comfort food. If meatloaf isn’t your thing, there are many vegan and vegetarian options to choose from. Dinners range from $8 to $12.
The restaurant uses fresh, local ingredients in all of their food. They also feature an array of micro-brewery beers from the Milwaukee area.
Casablanca, on Brady Street in Milwaukee, has been hailed as “Milwaukee’s Best Middle Eastern Food” by the Shepherd Express. Jerusalem native, Jesse Musa, has created an extensive menu filled with authentic food from his childhood. Dinners range from $5 to $15, which leaves room for an after-dinner drink on Brady Street.
“I like going to casual restaurants on dates because I think it makes everyone feel more comfortable. It’s not like you have to remember which fork to use first or speak French to order,” said Katy Daly, a training manager for Marriott Hotels International.