I was a food critic for 4 years. “When Someone Else Is Paying” was a feature I wrote, for The Columbia Guide to New York, pointing patrons to the best of the best in Manhattan. My senior year, I worked for Tim and Nina Zagat, reading surveys and composing blurbs. I ate for free all over Manhattan, and I never needed a date to pay. I’m no longer a critic… at least not of the food.
I don’t even attempt to pick up a tab on a first date. I know men like it, think it’s nice, blah, blah, but it’s lame. It’s like the encore at a concert. Your favorite musical genius bows and thanks everybody then waves himself off stage. Then we all keep cheering and clapping, but we know he’s coming back to the stage. Everyone knows; the house lights are still off. I say, skip that crap, save some time, and spare us the lameass formality. It’s not charming; it’s insulting. Though… if you are a woman, and you do offer, here’s the good thing. If he actually lets you pay for it; he’ll pay for it by never seeing you again. It’s better than the “is he nice to the busboy?” test because that’s as cliché as the Bronx Tale’s does she unlock your door for you two-step.
“I ordered the skate with brown butter sauce, but I had no idea I’d already had a skate staring at me from across the linen table.”
It’s not that I’m materialistic–though if the Choo fits… it really isn’t about the money. It’s about being a woman and feeling taken care of. If it’s raining out, and we’re circling for a parking spot, I would hope he’d be chivalrous enough to suggest dropping me off first while he looked for a spot. Opening doors, standing to greet people, and looking people in the eye are basic points of entry. Of course I believe it all comes out in the wash, that a woman should offer to pay, eventually, let him know she’s with him for him, not for what he buys her, or where he takes her. She’s certainly not with him because he takes her to restaurants with skate on the menu. Tell him you’re allergic to fish next time.