Wednesday, January 7th, 2004 • 1 Comment on I Don’t Speak Dutch
I despise splitting the bill when I go out to eat. I hate dividing things up and figuring out who pays what based on who had the club sandwich and who had the cheeseburger. Worse even than splitting the bill is separate checks. Why not just sit at separate tables while you’re at it? Or even separate restaurants? Tell you what, don’t call me, I’ll call you.
When I eat out, I don’t want to worry about how the bill is going to get paid. Such practicalities take away from the pleasure of the meal. I eat out as a way of socializing—hell, eating
socializing for me. When I’m home alone, I don’t eat meals, I graze (case in point, my dinner tonight: Cheez Doodles and Pepperidge Farm cookies). There is joy in sharing a meal that should not be compromised by nitpicky details such as how the bill is going to be divided.
If I’m eating out with someone I like (and I try to avoid eating out with jerks, though there are rare occasions when I get stuck sitting across from someone I can’t stand), I will happily pay the tab and expect them to return the favor next time. I’d much rather pick up the bill than sit there trying to figure out who owes what. As I rarely have cash on me, I’m going to either have to ask the server for a seperate check or put the entire thing on my credit card and take cash from my friend, which seems wrong. Honestly, I’ve probably paid for more than fifty-percent of the meals I’ve eaten in restaurants and that is okay with me. If I like you, I’m more than willing to pay for your meal in exchange for the pleasure of your company.
I once had lunch with an acquaintance (who was on her way to at least being a casual friend) who pulled out a CALCULATOR in order to figure out her half of the bill. Now, keep in mind that we ordered
the exact same entree
, but she had water and a side salad and I had an iced tea. We split dessert. She still felt the need to use a calculator to tally the exact amount of her tab. This was not a pricey restaurant, it was Ruby Tuesday’s. We’re talking a difference of maybe two bucks in what we each owed, if that. I was horribly embarrassed. I spent time with her after this mortifying event, but I never went to a restaurant with her again.
The other thing about taking turns paying the bill is that it becomes a promise for a future meal spent together. I get it this time, you get it next time. If I like you enough to share a meal with you (excluding the aforementioned occasional jerk), I will want to see you again. If I
ever offer to split the bill with you… well, don’t expect me to be calling any time soon. If you
suggest splitting the bill, I may be slightly offended whether that’s your intention or not. Splitting the bill feels like you don’t like me and want to be done with me. That’s hardly a way to end a pleasant meal.
Oh, and the woman with the calculator? Despite her obsessive/compulsive need to make sure we each paid our fair share, she stuck me with the tax and only tipped ten-percent.