Do you or don’t you reach for the check when it comes to the table? Do you sit idle on your hands pretending you don’t see the fake leather folio resting between you and your date? Do you take it and say: “let’s split the check”? Or do you avoid the entire situation and get up to go to the bathroom when you see the server carrying it towards your table?
Early during our first date, the guy I was with recently informed me that if I reached for the check when it came he’d never call me again or that he’d certainly only think of me as a friend. “Besides,” he said, “we all know it’s a fake reach.” He went on to tell me that girls really don’t want to pay for a date and that most guys want to pay for their date’s drinks or meal.
I listened to his argument with curiosity. How’d he know that all women extend fake reaches? Why did he think that if a woman took out her wallet or offered to split the check she wasn’t genuine or that she wouldn’t have a problem going Dutch? This guy had gone from talking about his job and hobbies to what our server’s tattoo meant only to throw in this tidbit about dating etiquette. With all the non-sequiturs, I felt like a seal at Sea World trying to catch red ring after red ring after red ring from a trainer who was throwing them at me from random directions at warp speed.
Considering this guy didn’t want to share any of the beer garden’s food with me, it surprised me that he intended to pay for our entire meal. He and I had met for drinks. After our first one we decided to get some food too. He asked what I wanted and I suggested guacamole and chips. I thought it was a good choice to go along with our beers and we could share.
When the server came we ordered the guacamole. Then my date said “and I’ll have the chicken quesadillas.” Apparently, meaning he wanted his own snack and didn’t want to share, which I didn’t catch. Because when I said: “oh, that’s sounds good,” meaning, that sounds like a good thing for us to share let’s cancel the guacamole, my date ordered me my own plate of chicken quesadillas.
The restaurant's quesadillas are huge. They come with salsa, sour cream and guacamole. The cheese is oozing off the plate. They’re meant for sharing. At least I thought they were. By the time I realized I’d gotten stuck with two heavy appetizers, our server had disappeared inside to place the order and I was left knowing I could order 18 more beers and my date would be happy to pay for every single one of them. Of course, I didn’t. But I did switch it up at one point and ordered a glass of sangria, which tasted pretty good for a beer garden.
After that date, I followed up with some friends about the fake reach. A girlfriend of mine said she always makes an effort to reach for her wallet and offers to split. But my date was right; she’s not really keen on having to pay for any part of the check. She’s just making the gesture to be polite.
A guy friend of mine said that he appreciated the reach when he was single. He expected the girl to dig around for her wallet when the bill came and reach for the check. He told me he wouldn’t have liked it if his date didn’t make a move for the check at all. But he went on to explain that if she started grabbing for the bill; protested too much by saying “no, no no, no, let’s split it or let me pay;” or held up her hand to prevent him from paying, she would’ve annoyed him and he wouldn’t have gone out with her again. His wife shared that a woman should make an effort to try and pay once, but that was it; after that one-time offer the girl is good to go and her date should pay no matter what.
Back to my date. It ended with us finishing our beers; me eating as many quesadillas as I could without getting sick; him paying the check without me reaching for it; him walking me out, telling me he had a great time and that we should go out again; but him not calling me again. I guess it’s good to know in the dating game that even if you play by someone else’s rules, you can still end up losing.