What to give a curmudgeon who over-researches, over-collects, over-controls, and under-executes and who rarely leaves the nest overnight more than once a year? I went with a blind date birthday trip.

How? First, I eliminated expectations.

“I’m not giving you any things this year.”

Second, I bumped up stakes, heartrate, and attention.

“Only experiences.”

Third, I tested the trust factor.

“I’m not telling you which ones or where. Just pack a bag for two days. We leave Tuesday.”

I wasn’t at all sure he’d cooperate, so I bought tickets at the last minute. Leading up to Tuesday, I handwrote the nine addresses I needed and studied Google Maps. Much to my curmudgeon’s disappointment, I didn’t need the car’s GPS and declined his offer: “I’ll put it in the GPS for you.”

Did he think he was dealing with an amateur?

The Blind Date Experiences

When we pulled out of the neighborhood on Tuesday, I sensed his prickly keen attention to every turn I took. Will she go east to Orlando? West to Sulphur or Houston? South to New Orleans? North to who knows?

I went west, then north.

First stop: Dallas to stay with a college roommate and her husband.

  • Experience 1: my curmudgeon’s first ever Pakistani meal. He loved it.

The next morning I took him to the highlight of the blind date trip.

  • Experience 2: The Real Unreal Meow Wolf museum in Grapevine, Texas.

Turns out this was on his list of possibilities, but the lack of total surprise (remember, he’s an over-researcher) didn’t diminish the joy and fun.

The Meow Wolf website says to allow one to two hours to tour the museum. We were there six hours, and he could have stayed another six. I could have ended the blind date here on a successful note, but I had more plans.

The extended Meow Wolf stay eliminated two experiences I had softly planned for that day, so, on our way to Austin, we skipped Buc-ee’s and Ikea, and simply enjoyed a visit with friends.

On our way home the next day (this was a very quick trip), we folded in three more experiences:

  • Experience 4: abbreviated visit to Ikea. My curmudgeon bought himself a wooden hand. I wasn’t thrilled, but it’s the one thing he acquired for his birthday.
  • Experience 5: Buc-ee’s—our childhood Stuckey’s on crack cocaine—for gas, lunch, and exploration.
  • Experience 6: the Micro Center, a playground for geeks and gamers.

Take Aways

Our final stop delivered a surprise to me. I didn’t know this place existed, yet less than fifteen minutes into my first Micro Center experience, I bought a new laptop. Fun fact: My curmudgeon left the store empty handed.

Did he care? No. Did he have fun on this trip? Gobs.

Even on the second and third days, he interjected the occasional “If I had known where we were going…,” but I think deep down he knows it would have ruined most of the fun.

This blind date trip took both of us out of our comfort zones (him from the house of too many things and me from the chains that tether me to my computer).

Meow Wolf was fabulous and the highlight, but the other gifts are bright too: opportunities to explore just for the joy of it, time with old friends, a bellyful of Buc-ee’s junk food, and, the cherry for me, a new lap top.

The biggest gift for both of us? Twenty hours of captive conversation.

Did I have fun? I’m already planning next year’s blind date birthday trip.

One last fun fact… I’m writing this blog from Serenity, my new lap top, with speeds between clicks that are the answer to my prayers for magic time.

©Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2023