CIVIL WRITES: Restaurant Weak

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By: Vibe / January 26, 2010

Women are something else. And I mean that in every sense of the phrase. It’s why some men have spent entire lives searching for further understanding of their counterparts. I too am a curious man. So in honor of restaurant week in my native New York City I’m using the dining tradition as platform for a gender issue I’ve wrestled with for some time: the blurry dinner bill etiquette between man and woman.

Now I’m from the school where a guy invites a female out and pays accordingly because her time has been requested (time is money, on and off the clock). But who, I don’t understand, is this new age chick that invites men out with no intention of picking up the bill. I don’t mean the woman who uses crystal clear language like “When are you taking me out?” or “You should take me here.” I’m annoyed by missy who will damn near harass a dude for an outing––multiple texts of “We gotta get up” or constant queries of “When are we going on a date?”––and when said dude obliges, she puts the financial responsibility on him.

It’s happened to me before and more often guys I know. Man accepts woman’s invitation. When bill is placed between male and female inviter she either acts like the bill is invisible or pingpongs her sight back and forth between bill and male as if “Man Must Pay” is written across bill booklet in bold metallic letters.

Now the couple times this has happened to me I’ve never considered myself a victim because I allowed it to go down (not to say I’ve never been pissed at the audacity). I just hate haggling over money. I’ve paid for entire group dinners because I can’t stand being a part of a tacky collective playing hot potato with the check (staring at it will not make the total decrease!). I also think going dutch is wack. So for a woman to invite me out without expressing any prior expectations of me paying is a straight turn off which screams entitlement and quite possibly selfishness. Thus, for me, it’s simple: I paid to never have to go out with her again. Money well spent.

But when listening to guys explain their situations to me, I realize it’s a different dynamic. Many times these men are invited out by women whom they fancy. The outing may not be the fellas idea but the fact that a certain female took the initiative is flattering (yes men get flattered). So when that dinner, lunch or brunch concludes and the server places the bill on the table discomfort is birthed via that guy’s fears. He never ever wants to look cheap or worse, broke. And, more than anything else, I realized that guys will, in that quick moment of confusion, delude themselves into feeling that they somehow misled the woman into thinking he was gonna pay. The last thing they wanna do is offend that woman across the table because to do so may mean they’ll never get the opportunity to be near her again. It’s a vulnerable situation for guys. A situation where women know they usually have the control.

There’s great pleasure in producing an unforgettable night for a woman. Yet there’s nothing like an attractive woman instructing you to leave your cash at home. As a man it makes you want to reciprocate, even outdo––as any healthy relationship should. And these progressive women are out there. Some have told me that they don’t expect guys to pay if they invite. Many of the prettier ones say they simply expect to paid for––it’s been their norm. I just don’t understand the audacity of the female who feels entitled to a free meal and time because she’s in the mood. Nor do I understand the etiquette, if there is one. Maybe there is but it’s just not working for both genders. Like monogamy, but that’s a whole other blog. Not trying to ruin anyone’s restaurant week. Bon appetit!

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Bonsu Thompson has accomplished more in his career than most journalists dream of. The Rolling Stone 2001 “Hot Interviewer” has penned for mags like Details, XXL, Penthouse, SLAM and KING as well as notable brands such as MTV, VH1, Rocawear and Translation.