The process of dating gives many opportunities to understand someone. And yourself. And service charges at Dine Outs.
If you’ve managed to land a date and find a place to meet at a mutually convenient time, you have also made a trip to the ATM (checked your cards). Hopefully you didn’t sound ignorant while placing the order and didn’t make a mess while eating.
You have been chivalrous at every possible opportunity – as you opened the door of the restaurant, sliding the chair in as she sat, letting her place her order first and not starting until her mustard dip had arrived.
Fabulous! You held back your comments on the small, overpriced portions, chewed with your mouth closed, took a timely sip of the sangria and were polite to the waiter. You’ve even maintained eye contact with your date and exchanged flirtatious smiles.
Then comes the point when you ask for the bill. You’ve gestured to the waiter to close the order and get the bill. And that’s when anxiety levels reach a new high. For me, the course of action depends on whom I am with. If it’s a ‘sausage party’ I couldn’t care less, and excuse myself to the loo. And take long enough to ensure others have settled the tab. If there are ‘couple friends’, I’d sit with hanging shoulders and put on a ‘lonely stag’ look. (They know I’m not, but still.) If I am with an elite lot, I’ll hold out my AmEx card with crossed fingers. Chances are they’ll turn it down. But considering it’s a date...these are not good ideas.
So the waiter arrives with the bill. Tricky question for him: “Should I give it to the guy or the lady?” He’s been reading up on women’s equality and empowerment, etc. and has a male ego himself. He plays it safe and leaves it in the centre of the table. “You figure it out,” he says inside his head.
You decide to pick it up. But do you pay the entire amount? Or call it a Dutch treat? It’s a tricky spot for you too. Offer to take the tab and sound like a MCP who does not value women’s equality. If not, become a lesser man?
Yes, there is another option – let her pay.
Maybe she’s got a promotion and is eager to celebrate. Maybe paying bills makes her feel more confident. Maybe she is conditioned to buy her own meal. Or maybe she genuinely feels guilty for wasting your time – and doesn’t plan to see you again. (Have you thought about that?)
In all probability, she can pick up the entire tab. If she doesn’t jump at the idea, it’s because she wants to let you do it. To let you do what you are expected to do. To let you satisfy your ego after a satisfied tummy. She’s seen enough of men trying hard to show they are men. You’re just another one. Really.
She’s not going to try hard to prove a point. She doesn’t need to. She’ll sit back and watch the fun. See how you conduct yourself – because it’s only a bill. Not demonetisation.
Here’s what I do: If the amount is above a certain limit I’ve decided on for myself, I won’t mind Dutch.
Or else, I pick up the tab. And give the assurance that I’ll let her pay the next time. And that I’ll make her pay the next time.
I get to keep my manhood. She retains her feminism for next time.
Baniye ka dimaag. Miyabhai ki daring.