Confessions of a food whore
My first year in high school, an upperclassman once asked me over for dinner. As a senior, he'd already honed his romantic
maneuvers to a suave point, while I, a lowly freshman, was still bumbling through those initial attempts at dating. He cooked spaghetti and kept a steady flow of conversation, while I tried to laugh in the right spots and surreptitiously wipe the sauce off my face. On the way to the door at the end of the evening, I saw him pull a pack of Big Red chewing gum from of his pocket and slide a piece into his mouth. By the time he leaned in to kiss me goodnight, that piece of gum had swelled to the size of a ping-pong ball and begun firing off shots of cinnamon flavoring. I know this because, right about then, he had his tongue down my throat.
Even though I wasn't all that into it (the date or the kiss), I felt a strange dilemma. If this guy had gone to all the trouble of making me dinner, didn't owe him something?
In Theatre Conspiracy's production
of "Bad Dates," New York City singleton Haley Walker runs afoul of a similar scenario. After a disastrous first date where she lets a guy give her a goodnight kiss that involves way too much tongue, she bemoans not splitting the tab. "I didn't have any latitude to evade," she admits. "I didn't pay."
Undoubtedly, this is why going Dutch has been on the rise in recent years. When the check is divided, no one is guilted into first base. As a modern, independent woman, my advice should be for women to pay for their own meals and for men to learn to handle a self-reliant woman. But, I have to admit, there's something so refreshing about the old-school charm of a man picking up the tab. And I'm a sucker for a free meal.
While it's generally expected in today's dating environment that women work for their dinner (if you know what I mean), sometimes a good dose of listening skills can stand in for the post-dessert putting out. I've certainly done my part (and it was worth every faked "uh-huh" and "That's so interesting".) Like at the Italian bistro in Philly, where my date talked about his hedge fund for two hours but I hardly noticed because the Chianti complimented the veal so perfectly. Or the Thai restaurant with the delicate rice noodles and heavenly peanut sauce — only an hour and a half of listening to my date's plans for the Peace Corps.
When I lived in Paris, my roommate and I spent an evening flattering a man that treated us to dinner at an African restaurant. On the way back to the Metro, he pulled her aside. "So, you both are coming back to my place now?"
She laughed. "It would take more than dinner to get us both back there."
Perhaps if he'd sprung for the créme brulée?
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