For a great, cheap date, get creative and get artistic.
Periodically, things go really well. Property values grow at unprecedented rates. The S & P 500 grows 13% year over year. And, once in a blue moon, a single pretty good (but not great) idea will catch the right executive's eye and move someone from the creative class into the realm of the nouveau riche (and they will buy Jet Skis for all of their friends). Then other times, the unemployment rate more than doubles inflation and the best solution anyone can think of is to tax high-earners in excess of 50% of their income. In the latter scenario, romance, entertainment and romantic entertainment* become a bit superfluous when budget time comes around. That's when the tough get creative.
Before I get started, scrap booking (and the dreaded collage) is to most guys what couples skating is to friendships: poison. But working on a little art project is a good way to burn a few hours and perhaps grow a little closer. The art project doesn't have to be the ceiling of the Sixteenth Chapel or anything, just something that you can both work on together.
Typically, one person is better at artistic endeavors (this person is generally me, everything I do is art**) and that's OK. If this person is of the patient artist variety: good. If this person belongs to the temperamental artist subcategory: not good. Maybe choosing something that neither party is professional at would be a good start. Plus a time limit and an agreement to keep all the criticism constructive would be wise (I'm thinking of Royal Tenenbaum's critique of Margo's play: "What characters? There's a bunch of little kids in animal costumes.") So, throw on some music, uncap a fifth of Mad Dog and let your creative flag fly.
A couple quick ideas:
- The future is ceramics, not plastics: While not free, per se, many cities, towns and municipalities have an artsy area. In that area, you'll find a place that allows you to make your own pottery. It's generally pretty cheap. If no one's looking, recreate that scene from Ghost .
- Use technology: Chances are you have camera. If not, your computer or phone has one. You can create a virtual collage, scrapbook or storybook on your computer. Feel free to create vacations you've never taken (but may take when the Dow gets its act together), celebrity encounters that have never happened or insert yourselves into that scene from Ghost.
- Get ready for your close up: This one is not for the faint of heart; make a quick movie. Your camera (or phone or computer) likely has the ability to record video (possibly just snippets). Your computer may have simple software for editing video. Put them together and shoot your very own "D*ck In A Box," a sock puppet show or recreate that scene from Ghost. Or something more risque: Watch: How To Make A Sex Tape
- Unleash your inner Dan Brown: Everyone seems to have a novel kicking around somewhere. Turn that notion into a tag-team short story. Agree on two general plots, and each of you write for 30 minutes at that point, switch stories and write for 30 minutes, then switch back and write for 15 minutes. This is more or less how Mary Shelley came up with Frankenstein. Feel free to rewrite that scene from Ghost.
- Keep it practical: While not terribly artistic, that coffee table does need to be stripped, sanded and repainted (or varnished). Throw in a few artistic flourishes where people may not see them (underneath, I guess). Once the project is complete, feel free to create that scene from Ghost atop or against the housework.
When the market comes back around, maybe some lunatic will pay good money for one of these creations (don't hold your breath). (Confession, I knew what decoupage was before I wrote this post.)
Any fun, creative projects that you and yours have banged out on a weekend afternoon? Holler.
*Note: "Romantic entertainment" is a good euphemism for going to the strip club.
**Note: I kid. I do one thing well and that thing is karaoke. I "roke" it real good.