Tuesday, June 22, 2010

And.....here's what HE said:

Check out his side of the story - the unedited version of an article appearing in the "He Said/She Said" column on The Stir, to which my friend, Matthew Wells and I were contributors.

If you missed HER (my) side of the story, check out yesterday's post!!

 photo: courtesy of www.photobucket.com

Sorry; a question? Sure. Shoot.

What's that, you say? “Who should pick up the check on a first date?”

Hmm. Let me give this absolutely no thought at all. My automatic answer: if it’s a date, the guy picks up the check, because that’s how you know it’s a date in the first place. Or at least that’s how you know the guy thinks it’s a date in the first place, or wants it to be. Picking up the check is a signal of intention and interest. It’s the guy saying, “I’m not just looking at you as a friend.”

But it’s also a sign of respect, in a way that has nothing to do with romance. When I say, “Do you want to go out to dinner?” and you say, “Yes,” then that means I’m paying. Why? It’s all part of the package. We wouldn’t be sitting across from each other sharing a meal if I hadn’t popped the question, and picking up the check is understood as a given the moment I hear your “Yes.” It’s not even an option. Think chivalry.

Of course, chivalry may seem quaint and even sexist in our courtesy-challenged society, but again, it’s a sign of something. All first dates take place in a Signals Bar. Everything I do and say will be interpreted a hundred different ways, like a speech at the United Nations. If I pick up the check, it says a couple of interesting (and hopefully interest-related) things about me. (Like, y’know, “Look out, girls--he’s a man with a job.”) If on the other hand I say, “Let’s split it,” that says something, oh, half-interesting at best (which implies half-uninteresting, and lemme tell ya--if you’re more than 40% uninteresting on a first date, it’s the kiss of death). And then, if I’m stupid enough to say, “Your treat, right?” or, “You had the $30 dollar special which means you owe me--wait--hang on a second while I pull up the calculator app,” or, “So is it okay if I leave the tip?” then that is what most women politely call a deal-breaker and profanely call something else entirely.

Another deal-breaker is the guy who goes into a first date saying to himself, “I will only pick up this check if there’s a spark,” or, “I’ll pay if I think this is going somewhere other than two separate cab rides home.” This guy you do not need, ladies--any hint of quid pro ho is a sign that you are having dinner with someone who is totally prepared to dump you for somebody younger or prettier at the first available opportunity. Since his feeling is that a date is like a high-risk investment, that means he orders the wine believing that he’s owed something in return, and if he doesn’t get it, then he’ll put his money somewhere else. (This probably also means that he’s involved in insider trading, and treats his secretary like crap. Run; don’t walk.)

The point is, dating is not an investment. In reality, dating is a gamble. It’s like a game of poker--you raise, you call, and you always pony up to see the other player’s cards. And once that game starts? That’s when it gets really interesting. Once I raise the stakes, it is then up to the woman to decide whether she calls or raises back. The call would be by saying, “No, let’s split it.” The raise would be by either making a half-hearted attempt to pay and then backing down, or by saying, “If I had known you were pickin’ up the tab, I would have ordered that Johnny Blue.”

And, like poker, if you raise? The game continues. But if you call? The hand is over. If a woman insists on paying half, then there is no date. As a guy, if someone I’m interested in throws down a couple of 20’s and says, “No, I insist, this is for my half,” that translates in my brain as, “I am not interested in you romantically.” And I’m fine with that; in fact, I’d rather hear that than the actual words, “I am not interested in you romantically,” because the actual words hurt like hell. That’s why, when a woman says she wants to pick up half the dinner tab, it’s the rejection equivalent of French: a really nice way to say something that in reality sounds like a slap in the face.

But--and I cannot say this strongly enough--it is also a heart with a line drawn through it, which is the universal symbol for NOT INTERESTED. So if I do continue seeing this woman, it will have to be as friends, unless I want to delude myself into thinking that through the liberal application of persistence and three-course dinners, I can get her emotional barometer to swing from COLD AND DISTANT to HOT AND HEAVY. And don’t think I haven’t spent years paving a road through that emotional jungle, okay?

Oh. You too? Really?

Iteresting. Want to talk about it over dinner?

Comments are welcome!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Who Pays?? A commentary from BOTH sides of the table.

Here's the unedited version of an article appearing in the "He Said/She Said" column on The Stir, to which my friend, Matthew Wells and I were contributors. 

Here's what SHE said........

“I’m having an amazing time,” Drew said, his big, brown eyes smiling with delight.

“Me too,” I almost giggled as I took another sip of wine.

It had been a great first date – one of the best I can remember. We laughed and talked with the ease of a couple dating for months, not hours. He was scoring high on the first-date-checklist: Good conversationalist – check. Great table manners – check. Polite and Courteous – check.

So when the bill arrived and he gently pushed it toward me saying simply, “You got this, right?” I was speechless.

The shock of it all prevented me from doing anything other than paying the bill. My disappointment was palpable. The night was going so well! It was as if someone just pulled the plug on one of those old record players, the needle scraping against the vinyl with a horrible screech.

“Why didn’t you say anything?” My friend demanded the next day when I told her what happened. “He invited you out, didn’t he?”

“Well, technically he suggested we go out, but it was more of a mutual thing,” I countered.

“That’s crazy!” My friend snorted. “The guy should always pay on the first date.”

This got me thinking. Why should the guy pay on the first date? It’s the new millennium after all. Isn’t it a little antiquated to expect such chivalry?

All of my friends said, emphatically, that they prefer the guy to always pick up the tab – especially on the first date. I wasn’t convinced, so I took it to my blog, asking all my female readers to weigh in on the subject.

The comments varied from women in their twenties to those in their mid-forties, but most agreed that whoever does the asking should most definitely do the paying. The reasons behind their opinions were more interesting though, varying from not having to “owe” anything at the end of the date to maintaining the masculine/feminine polarity. Take a look:

“The guy should always pick up the tab on the first date, especially if he asked the girl out in the first place.” –B, 23

“The person who requests the date should pay for the date. If a woman asks a man out, she should expect to pay. This lends itself to the notion that if things are going well, keep it goin-with the counter offer. Dinner was great and thank you, now let me buy you a drink, a coffee a piece of cake.....” –F, early 40’s

“…I insisted on going dutch the first date; unless the date was precipitated by him asking: "Can I take you out to dinner," in which case, he paid…..I kept the dutch rule because, firstly, I've always been proud when it comes to money (perhaps a character flaw); and, secondly, because I believe that equality between men and women begins with treating each other as equals in everyday circumstances. If I depend upon a man to buy dinner, that dependence could stretch into other categories as well.” –A, 33

“The guy should definitely pay on the first date. I think for the masculinity/femininity balance to work out, the man has to be the provider, especially at the beginning. He has to show that he can look after her. She’ll then feel safe and be able to open up to him…We all have both masculinity and femininity within us, and to keep the chemistry alive in a relationship, you need to be mostly in the opposing trait to your mate.” K, 41

A week later, he called to ask me out on a second date. I thought about my own relationship to how I feel about the guy picking up the tab. I’m an independent woman. I own a home and make a decent living, so why would I need a guy to pay my way? In doing so, wouldn’t I be defeating the very purpose of being a strong and capable woman?

But here’s the thing. The very reason that I would like the man to pay is because I’m an independent woman. I work so hard at taking care of myself and holding it all down that it’s nice to have a man who wants to take you out, show you a good time and insist on paying the bill. For me, it’s like a mini vacation or more importantly, it gives me the chance to relax a little and let someone else be in charge for a change.

Just because I’m a strong woman doesn’t mean that letting someone else take charge will threaten my ability to take care of myself. If a person is truly comfortable in her personal power, allowing the guy to pick up the bill isn’t anything more than a nice gesture. It is just as much an act of power to receive as much as it is to give.

I say, keep it simple. If you’re interested in a second date, let him pay and offer to take him out the next time. Otherwise, politely decline and offer to split the bill.

Either way, always remember, you’re just as much a part of the date as he is and however you feel about him, you still get to choose what’s best for you.

I thought about it and Drew really did ask me out on that first date and my reason for declining a second one was simple. Dating, especially the first few, is all about putting your best foot forward and I’m not ashamed to say that I expect the very best from a man who’s interested in me. Drew didn’t deliver and put his best toe forward and in the end it’s not about the money – it’s about the effort.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

For the Ladies.................

photo: courtesy of photobucket

I want to hear from the females out there!!

Ladies, on the first date, who should pick up the tab???

email your thoughts to gari47@gmail.com

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Worker Bee

photo courtesy of www.photobucket.com

Thanks to everyone who's emailed me over the last couple of months wondering, "When will you start posting again?" and "Is that book finished yet, or what?"

It's been an intense couple of months and I'm happy to report that I'm in the homestretch.  Bear with me as I put the final touches on my first draft - good thoughts and energy sent my way are always welcome!!

I'll be back soon and when I return, stay tuned for some exciting news!

All the best and as always, thank you for reading.