The Nondating Life

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Part Nineteen: Pay up

(Previous post)

I found some of the reaction to the story about the Raging Jerk who stiffed the Demanding Twit on the first date a little amusing. I trust that everyone understood that it was posted as a joke and that, more than likely, the story wasn't even true. Oddly enough, while everyone saw the guy as a jerk (even those who secretly approved of his behavior), pretty much everyone looked over the fact that the woman broke the law.

But most amusing were some of the reactions (not necessarily in my comment section) in which certain women came to the conclusion that because they make themselves slaves to Cosmo and Vogue, because they strap on pointy-toed high heels every day and have to put on makeup, and because, further, those shoes cut off so much circulation to the brain that they start seeing sexism everywhere (when, in fact, people may be judging them because they're spending over half a salary on fancy shoes, mascara and silly-flavored martinis)--because of this, suddenly, it's my problem. As a guy, apparently, I must be forced to pay for this by buying $20 glasses of Scotch.

To which I call bullshit. Ladies, your problems are your problems and, real or imagined, you shouldn't be bringing them along on the first date. We are expected to keep our mouths shut about our favorite football teams, our moms and our ex-girlfriends (guys, you do know these things, right?), so you should also check your baggage at the door.

Now, that said ...

Guys, you should always pay on the first date. Always. No exceptions. Of course, whether something is a date or not could be the subject of a very long post. But to keep things moving along, let me summarize.

Guys, if you ask a girl out for drinks and/or dinner and there's some question as to whether or not it's a date (because girls are willfully stupid about such things), paying for it usually says: "This is a date. Time to start making some decisions." Like it or not, you should be willing to pay to play.

Ladies, if a guy knows you are single (or made it a point not to ask if you have a boyfriend) and he asks you to drinks or dinner there's a 98% chance that IT'S A DATE!!! Now, I know how foolish you people can be when it comes to "making friends," but a new guy in your life asking you out for drinks isn't interested in simply making an emotional bond and signing your damn yearbook.

Now, down to details. Fellas, if dropping bucks on a stranger sticks in the craw, get over it. You're supposed to be a man and with that comes certain responsibilities, regardless of what feminists and cheap bastards will have you think. Paying shows you a) have balls and b) have a job (or at least a means of supporting yourself, even if it is a trust fund).

Still, I understand if you get tired of blowing money on unworthy woman after unworthy woman (or, more likely, worthy woman who doesn't like you after worthy woman who doesn't like you). My pragmatic suggestion is to not waste money on dinner. Not only is drinking on an empty stomach the quickest way to move things along to the climax or anti-climax of a first date, but she doesn't exactly want to sit there picking over a plate of cooling pasta if the date starts moving into the doldrums (especially if either of you is the type to get nervous and unable to eat).

And when it comes time to pick a place for drinks, stick to the general area of what you know and, more important, what you like. I'm not saying to take your date to the falling-down sports bar where they charge you for an order of wings by the piece (25 cents a wing!) and they serve beer in styrofoam cups. But if pubs are your thing, take her to a pub, maybe one slightly classier than the ones you usually hang out in. If secluded cafes are your thing, find a coffee/wine bar. And, if for some strange reason you're into hotel bars or lounges where they serve $15 drinks (who ARE you people), by all means, bring your lady friend to one of these. But if you're a pub guy, don't ask your date to a swanky lounge for the sole purpose of impressing her. You are going to feel neither comfortable nor confident--and it's very, very important on a first date that you at least APPEAR to be those two things. The last thing you need on a first date is to be sitting in your clothes you would only wear to work or a funeral and holding a grudge against all the smooth, rich guys with perfect teeth and hair circulating around the room. And you certainly don't need to put yourself in the position where you almost faint when the bill comes because for the last two years you've been paying eight bucks for a whiskey-rocks and a Bud (for those of you outside of New York, this eight bucks for that sort of combo is actually damn near impossible to find here).

Aside from the practical implications here, choosing such a place will also tell you worlds about your woman. If you're a pub type, but she shows resistance and keeps suggesting hotel bars or lounges, or if she says yes to the pub but brings along wet-naps and keeps wiping her hands like an obsessive-compulsive, that SHOULD tell you something about potential personality conflicts--of course if she's hot, you're not going to pay any attention to this early warning sign, are you. You're going to pursue her no matter what, no matter if she hates your clothes, your bars, your friends and sees you only as a project. But, hey, it's your life.

And if you're a lounge lizard and your date shows up in that faux-natural look of minimal makeup, snug top and torn jeans? Eh, who am I kidding. You won't care. Take her to a real bar and act like a real man. Go enjoy yourselves. (This is sort of a one-direction thing problem. A low-maintenance guy will have plenty of problems with a high-maintenance girl, but a high-maintenance guy will find it much easier to adapt to a low-maintenance girl ... mostly because at the heart of every guy--every straight one, at any rate--is a low-maintenance slob crying for freedom.)

So go on your date, enjoy yourselves and, good or ill, be prepared to pick up the tab. But, Ken, but... SHUT UP AND PICK UP THE TAB! You asked her out, you pick it up. And if she asked you out? Well, who the hell knows WHY she asked you out. Maybe it's a date. Maybe she just needed some attention or an ego boost. Maybe she just needs a "friend" (see previous sentence). Maybe she's a shallow, selfish, broke little twit who's just trying to use you for drinks. At any rate, if you, the GUY, want it to be a date, PICK UP THE TAB.

But, Ken, what if she offers? I just hate that moment when the check comes and we both look at it and ...

STOP.

Don't even let this become an issue. Remember, you're supposed to be comfortable and confident. You're supposed to be not just smooth, but SMOOVE. I, too, once whined about this sort of thing. I'm a Southern guy and there's nothing more infuriating than these uppity Northern girls what with all their opinions and efforts to emasculate me by paying the bill. But my former boss Kim--herself, the sort of hardcharging business woman who would be damned if SHE was going to pay on a first date--set me straight.

"Ken, you worthless piece of white trash, who I saved from the streets by giving you a job your probably weren't even qualified for, you have a credit card, right?" she asked.

"Yes ma'am," I answered.

"Okay, dumbass, when the waiter gives you the check, just stick the credit card on the tray or in the folder and give it right back before he even leaves the table. That makes you look confident and she'll only be able to protest after the fact."

"Oh."

"But one more thing."

"Yeah?"

"If she doesn't at least make a small show of protesting, dump her. She's a selfish bitch."

"Oh."

See, life can be simple at times. And if you can't manage this or don't think you can manage this, you can always wait until she goes to the bathroom.

But what if she doesn't go to the bathroom? HA!

Well, what if she doesn't go to the bathroom right around the time the check comes? Uh, not to be cynical or anything, but you'll notice that women almost ALWAYS go to the bathroom toward the end of the date. Maybe, just maybe, they're testing you. (But don't worry, you should do the same thing on the third date, just to see if she'll try to pick up the tab. She's by no means required to pay the whole thing, but if she does... well, son, you got yerself a keeper.)

Now, I trust that we're all caught up. This has been a little more gender specific than a typical Nondating post, but there it is.

Sure, there are all sorts of unresolved issues here, the primary one being whether or not the evening was actually a date. Guys, if the woman has a fit because you paid, if she insists on paying her share to the point where she's practically shoving cash in your pockets, more than likely she's trying to tell you something. You should pay attention to this sign ... it's pointing directly to the Friend Zone.

And ladies, if the guy pays and refuses to accept your money, why, yes, it WAS a date (even if you asked him, just as friends) and, why, yes, he is trying to maneuver you into a position where, at the very least, you'll feel obliged to go out again, if only to repay him (see, we can be just as manipulative as you, you game-playing little hussy!)

Okay, that's about it boys. Maybe some of you are pissed at me for once again seemingly coming down on the side of girls. After all, I'm telling you to throw hard-earned money down the drain. After all, the majority of first dates end, at best, at an impasse and, at worst, with crying, screaming and humiliating blog-posts. And even if the evening does seem pleasant and even if there are plenty of women who will put up a mild or no protest and still stick your ass in the Friend Zone, that's the price of admission, bub.

And you do it not because SHE expects it, not because she wears high heels or is the victim of some conspiracy or thinks she's the mother-earth goddess. You do it because it's the right thing to do. Look at it this way. Long ago, to impress a woman, you had to go out and fight a tiger with your bare hands or kill another man just to get her to look at you. The way I see it, spending a few bucks on drinks ... you're getting off easy.

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16 Comments:

  • Thanks for saying this. It drives me crazy for men to bitch about paying. Them's just the rules. If you don't want to play by them, have fun being celibate and alone.

    By Blogger The Lighting Designer, at 12:57 PM  

  • Thanks for clearing that little issue up Ken.

    And from the low-maintenance girl's point of view (yes, we do exist, at least outside of NYC), there is (almost) nothing worse than getting involved with a high-maintenance guy after he gave you the impression that he was low-maintenance. So guys, amen, by all means, take a date where you are comfortable going. It saves a lot of irritation later.

    By Blogger Robin, at 1:20 PM  

  • WARNING: RIDICULOUSLY LONG COMMENT.

    yeah, her trying to leave without dealing with the bill was not cool. she should've used her words and confronted the tool about his misleading behavior rather than resort to dishonesty herself. ah, hindsight--she was in a drunken panic.

    anyhoozle, i've dated a few guys who insisted on paying for everything all the time because they were six-figure legal eagles who knew i was a starving artist, and i appreciated it very much but never expected it. and i never make a half-assed attempt to contribute toward a bill unless i'm prepared to really pay. but i don't insist--i don't try to prove a feminist or we're-just-friends point. it seems like a lot of guys take pride in treating a woman to a nice evening out. it's sweet. and no guy's ever made me feel guilty--they were smoove, as you say. but i don't order top shelf every time, and i order entress from the middle price range. and if i'm dating someone who's loaded so i can't reciprocate with treating him to fancy dinners, i find small ways to do sweet things for him so he knows how much i care--maybe something small he actually needs or that will make his day easier in some way, or funny notes left in secret places for him to find, that sort of thing. you find ways to reciprocate.

    i've also dated guys who were as broke as i and we just found cheap things to do and managed to have a great time.

    and i always assume it's a date. it's more fun that way! and easier to figure out the etiquette. oh, and even if i have to pee like a racehorse from all my rail drinks, i never go to the bathroom when the bill comes--that just looks cowardly and spoilt-princessy.

    i think the main thing these posts brought up for me is why wouldn't we all want to be gracious and appreciative and considerate and generous as we can? why get angry or be cynical or try to trick someone?

    guys, i can understand if you're sick of dating gold-diggers, but there are lots of nice horny girls out there who will be sincere and make you laugh and appreciate your generosity but not expect it.

    sounds like that tool shoulda spent the $14K on therapy instead of all those first dates anyways.

    By Blogger LuckySpinster, at 5:03 PM  

  • Oh boy, you make it sound so simple. For this starving artist, it seems to 98% of the time NEVER be a date. Even if they pay. Because I'm poor and they take pity on me. But really, the pity should come in with my desperate hope that someone has finally "seen" me as the kind of gal who can live outside of the Friend Zone. Because that hope is almost never justified. I know--whine, whine, whine. But if I hear "you're awesome but..." one more time...I'm crackin' skulls.

    By Anonymous Esther, at 7:07 PM  

  • FINALLY!! :) Thanks for spelling it out, Ken. Um, what would the cost be for reprint rights enough to paper bomb the entire United States? .... That much, huh... What about region by region? (It's OK - you can get back to me on that one...)

    Seriously, the way you put it is exactly the way things should be. No woman (OK none I know) likes to be treated like a gold-digging hussy just because she expects a guy who asks her out for a drink to pick up the tab. And, if I may add a little point to this, JUST BECAUSE YOU ASK A WOMAN OUT FOR A DRINK AND SHE SAYS "YES" DOES *NOT* MEAN SHE IS PICKING OUT CHINA OR WEDDING DRESSES!!!!!

    (Thank you again!!) :)

    By Anonymous lawyerchik1, at 9:19 PM  

  • I have a friend that thinks he shouldn't have to pay on dates. I keep telling him that if he does the asking, he does the paying. He doesn't think he should have to pay if there's no "connection." I keep telling him he can forget a connection if he can't cough up a few bucks to pay for dinner at Chili's. He wonders why there is never a 2nd date.

    By Blogger M, at 9:00 PM  

  • oh my.... all these rules.... all these analyzations.... make my head spin.

    If I go to the bathroom before the check comes, it's because I HAVE to go pee (or redue my lipstick), but most of the time I wait until after the check comes.

    By Blogger Autumn, at 11:34 PM  

  • yes... just in agreement with robin, low maintenance girls do exist- in fact I think I'd have much more fun eating 25 cent wings instead of going to the bathroom to reapply my uh... chapstick- avoiding the check.

    I never feel bad when that tab is picked up either- date or not!

    It's just one more game we all have to learn how to play, once the rules (as you have so eloquently stated) have been established you should be good to go. now go paper-bomb the rest of the good ole' U.S. of A!

    By Blogger Elizabeth, at 6:18 PM  

  • Good going, Ken. Motion seconded and supported. Odd enough, my objection is on the other side. Where I'm from, men buy the dinners. If I'm not completely broke, there is rarely a time when I'm with a girl when I won't pay. And this is with friends, ex-girlfriend, current girlfriends or my sisters. Of course, I'm frequently completely broke but one should (and I) never start dating a new woman in that condition. So there are times when a guy will pay when he doesn't particularly want to be dating you. It's one of those exceptions to the rule things you know.

    By Anonymous japanesefish, at 12:50 PM  

  • Boy or Girl, Date or Non-Date, if you invite someone out, you should always be prepared to pay. If you are a boy, and you invite a girl out on a date, pay the bill. No exceptions, ever.

    By Anonymous Mr. Farmer, at 1:13 PM  

  • I like the statement "you have to pay to play." I would like to think that girls are rational and logical first, but then they would be like guys, and that would be no fun. We men have to men whether or not girls want to be girls. What I mean is, we have to put ourselves out there and be willing to take the risk especially when it costs us more at first than it does them. The way I see it, later, girls have to go through the work of travailing through their emotions if a man shows himself worthy. Men struggle with risk and cost; women struggle with working through their emotions.
    ~The dude

    By Blogger DocHolliday, at 11:58 PM  

  • Dude, it is SO good to read a blog by a GUY who is saying this stuff! You obviously know how to treat a lady. Rare commodity these days. :)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:35 AM  

  • okay that was funny. and it seemed to be an awful lot about dating for a blog devoted to not dating. curious. well. i think we all learned an awful lot today. and thats one to grow on.

    By Blogger Joshua Dudley, at 11:14 PM  

  • Very well said. Wish there was a way to spread the word to all the other guys out there.

    By Blogger Vixen, at 7:04 PM  

  • Oh, "them's just the rules..." What's the quote? "We've already established what you ARE madam, now we're just negotiating the price"

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:39 PM  

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