Rethinking who should pick up the tab when on a date.
THE last time I went out on a first date, I realised halfway through my pasta Arrabiata that I would probably never see my dinner companion again. Our values were not in synch and our lifestyles didn't mesh. Some of his opinions were also a little badly timed. Like his statement that women wear makeup to mask some deep-rooted inferiority complex.
I mean to say, there I was, sitting opposite him, with my lashes mascara-ed, and my lips glossed and my cheeks slightly blushed, and he had the cheek to suggest that I lacked the confidence to let the world see me as I really am.
What absolute tosh! At that moment, I felt confident enough to contemplate jabbing my fork into one of his opinionated eyeballs. But I chose not to act on my thoughts. Besides, the sight of blood spurting out of a vacant eye socket might just have put off my dinner, and I really was quite hungry.
For over an hour, I feigned interest in his opinions and tried not to let my own quickly formed opinions of him spoil my appetite. As I overdosed on carbs, I listened to him twittering on about the benefits of regular fasting. As I sipped a glass of Merlot, he talked about the evils of alcohol. I responded by ordering another glass. How's that for being confident?
Later, when he asked if I would like to share a dessert with him, I declined. There's something intimate about sharing a dessert with someone of the opposite sex that sends out a certain message. Maybe it's the closeness of two people converging over a small plate. Maybe it's the exchange of oral bacteria. Maybe it's the seductive, simultaneous licking of spoons. Whatever, I wasn't in the mood for food foreplay.
When he declined coffee, I called for the bill, with every intention of paying for it in full. However, when the waiter presented it to me a short while later, my date reached over and attempted to grab it from me.
"You must let me pay for it!" he said.
"No, I want to pay for it," I said.
You can get the next one," he said.
"There isn't going to be a next one," I wanted to say, but didn't.
"OK, let's go Dutch," I said instead.
"You remind me of my mother," he said. "She always wants to pay."
The fact that he saw his mother in me caused me to lose my grip on the bill.
After he'd paid, I thanked him, wished him good night, and sped off home for some good chocolate, makeup remover and to ponder the 'who pays for what' conundrum.
When I go out with a girlfriend, we usually go Dutch. There are no arguments, or hidden agendas, or hard feeling to contend with. The same should apply when I'm having a dinner with a date. The only exception being the first date.
On a first date, I think it's more appropriate for the person who initiated the invitation to pick up the bill. After that, I think it's best to go Dutch. Either that, or pay for every other date.
However, some of my girlfriends have different ideas as to who should pay on a date.
"If the guy is earning more money than you, it's OK to let him pay for the bigger items," said one friend. "For example, if he gets dinner, I'll pay for things like the cinema and coffee."
"I'm OK with going Dutch, but if my date wants to pay, I let him pay," said another.
Of course, there are some women who think that the man should pay the bill, all the time. Men sometimes complain about such women, while continuing to date them. So it seems, they must be getting something else out of the relationship that compensates for them picking up the tab all the time.
I even read about one woman's justification for never offering to pay for dinner. Before she goes out on a date, she usually has a manicure, pedicure, something done to her hair, and buys a new outfit and some new underwear (just in case). She might also take some time off work to achieve her desired level of attractiveness. All of which add up to more than the cost of an expensive dinner.