I once had a date at a Waffle House. I know what you’re thinking. Waffle House is the perfect mixture of class and trash, with the type of dreamy atmosphere only a true romantic like Scott Peterson could appreciate. Nevertheless, I was living in Tennessee where I knew few people and was somewhat desperate for any peer-to-peer interaction, outside of the confines of my apartment complex’s laundry room. I had been up all night, solitarily working through a bottle of wine and watching “Superbad” on FX for the second time in a row. So when “he”, we’ll call him Bernard , contacted me to see if I wanted to go out, my slightly inebriated self, agreed. We texted for awhile and determined that there are not many reputable establishments still open at 4am. So he suggested Waffle House.
We met around 4:30, where I had a single order of hash browns, and he a sausage concoction with a yellow substance, hardly recognizable as eggs. We laughed, we talked, he told me I was sassy, I told him he talked funny. Great times. But when the bill came, things got…awkward.
Discount-Dining with Bernard A Dramatic Scene
Stunningly, beautiful twenty-something woman, LENA sits at a booth, with below-average twenty-something man, BERNARD. They are laughing and flirting, enjoying their spontaneous date. STEREOTYPICAL SOUTHERN WAITRESS approaches.
STEREOTYPICAL SOUTHERN WAITRESS: Ya’ll best be payin’ this here bill. Ya’ll holler at me when ya’ll got ya’ll money ready, ya’ll.
In all of his Southern manliness, BERNARD grasps the bill. LENA begins to dramatically shuffle through her purse, making evident her lack of gold digger intentions, while pretending to search for her wallet.
LENA: How much is it?
LENA: Now that’s a cheap meal!
BERNARD, LENA, and CHORUS: Hahahahahahahahaha
Taking notice of BERNARD’s concentrated stare, LENA stops her phony search.
BERNARD: You got this right?
LENA: The bill?
LENA: Are you serious?
BERNARD: I don’t have any money on me.
BERNARD shrugs, as if on cue for a sitcom laugh track. But no laugh track comes, and the CHORUS is unresponsive.
LENA: What do you mean you don’t have any money?
BERNARD: I left my wallet in the car.
LENA: So you didn’t have to pay?
LENA visibly ponders her next move, scratching her chin, and squinting her eyes.
LENA: You said it’s in the car?
BERNARD: Yeah, but…
LENA: I’ll wait.
LENA crosses her arms and leans back in the booth. BERNARD stares at her, forehead wrinkled in shock. Awkward silence prevails, and LENA, in her lack of shame, allows it to continue in the direction of discomfort.
BERNARD: You have money right here. You really want me to go get it?
After another minute of increasingly uncomfortable eye contact, BERNARD sighs, angrily, and exits the restaurant. A minute later he returns and pays the bill. As BERNARD and LENA part ways he said he would call, she laughs, and they never speak again.
Now, to clarify. I am not the type of girl, who thinks a man always has to pay, though I do appreciate the tradition. I am however, the type of girl, who thinks a man who intentionally goes out of his way to avoid paying, is the type of man who should. I have never gone on a date without my wallet, with the assumption that the man will pay. But let’s face it, he always does. In fact, unless I insist on splitting it, I don’t think I have ever gone on a date where the guy didn’t insist on paying. My brother, a man, once told me to “take advantage of being a girl and enjoy free meals.” This is what I, and many girls, generally do.
However, today while sitting at a local bistro drinking a self-purchased coffee, I scoured a Yahoo Article about a woman who used match.com to secure enough dates, to pay for her meals for a month. My initial reaction was something like “damnnnn gurl, straight up trippin!” But after fifteen seconds of consideration, I was more like “dammn &*%$@#, straight up &*%$@#!!!!”
According to the article, the “woman” is receiving both praise and criticism for her sleazy, backhanded approach to personal finance. While as a woman, I can see the appeal of doing this, as a feminist who also happens to love men to a fault, I find it obnoxious and totally arrogant for the following reasons:
- Tradition is not an opportunity for freeloading. When a man pays for dinner, he is gambling on getting something in return, whether it be sex or just a second date. While you don’t necessarily owe him this just because he paid for dinner, it is understood that he isn’t paying so you can maintain your generic, twenty-something female lifestyle of weekly spray tanning and daily $8 Starbucks purchases.
- Tradition is not an opportunity to pay off debt. According to the article, this woman was a twenty-three year old New York City resident, with credit card debt and high rent. She developed this plan so she did not have to pay for meals and could pay off her debt sooner. While I appreciate her reasoning, I don’t appreciate the fact that she is leeching off of other people to do it. Though I have no qualms with actual prostitution (work it girl), I find this approach unapologetically scum-sucking. They are your bills. If you can’t pay your bills, get a second job. Don’t just give them in Olive Garden parking lots.
- Don’t use dating as a guise for your dinner whoredom. Call it what it is. If you are looking for a “sugar daddy” just say that. Don’t pretend you are dating. Don’t drag other people into it, with their baggage, financial troubles, and evident desperation for actually wanting to date you.
When it comes to dating, there aren’t many advantages of being a woman. Women are expected to look good all the time, with razor burn and waxed eyebrows, while pretending the biological clocks in our heads are not bombastically ticking in our ears anytime we have a decent conversation with a single man. It’s exhausting. Why must certain women deteriorate the only perk we still have? Nobody, without a serious fetish, enjoys being used. When women use men for money or free meals, it is no better than men using women for sex. You can’t praise one and criticize the other. The more men think they are being used for money, the less they are going to spend on us. This is a growing epidemic.
So ladies, before you start filling out excel spreadsheets of the poor suckers you plan to stealthily rip off, I ask you to consider this. What if it was your brother, friend, or funny uncle attempting to woo a woman who was only in it for the free breadsticks? Think about that.
The girl who wants more than free breadstricks