Monday, April 22, 2013

Mommy, what's a 'gentleman'?

Last week I was driving down the 405 listening to "On Air with Ryan Seacrest" and he was talking about how it is "expected" for the guy to pay for the date - even if the lady doth protests - his hand should have an iron grip on that bill even if Winter itself was coming. Why? Because it's what gentlemen do.

I swerved my car and almost crashed into the "Praise Jesus" bumper sticker in front of me when he said that.

Am I missing something? This is 2013. It's the age where guys are comfortable having sex even if you're on your period for chrissakes. Nobody mentioned that I could get a free meal out of it. Who the hell are you dating? No urban young woman I know automatically expects their date to "cover for them" anymore. I'm not being a cynic, I'm unfortunately talking from experience and first-witness accounts. I've been doing this godawful dating thing for seven years and let me tell you Ryan, nobody is completely altruistic when it comes to covering the bills on a date.

Paying for someone's meal these days is considered an investment - they're expecting a pay-off in return. Because we're young, broke and have overdraft fees. Why should we cover someone else's meal when we can barely cover our own? We're at the restaurant because of a Groupon coupon - guys, there are already enough low standards at play here. And now you want to fatten up the cow first so the cow feels guilty and gives up the milk just because you bought her a cheese plate? I don't think so.

A girlfriend of mine went on a date with this guy who insisted on paying for her drinks. She didn't think much of it and didn't argue back. Why not, he's being nice. After two dates, she didn't feel the connection and ended it. Simple as that, right? Months later through a mutual friend we find out that her date had been calling her all kinds of un-gentlemanly words saying that he spent $$$ on her and she couldn't even "put out". Really? Did you want a refund or something? Should we direct deposit it into your account? Should we Amazon Prime you sex?

"My treat" or "It's on me" doesn't exist - at least not in your early 20s'. The term "gentleman" has exponentially evolved that I don't even know how to define it anymore. I'm not one of those women who get angry when a guy opens the door for me and starts yelling Susan B. Anthony quotes at him - probably because I'm too busy being shocked that a guy actually held open a door for me in the first place. I'll be honest though, I wouldn't mind a free meal every once in awhile. But not if I have to do a bathroom selfie sext in return.

I once made the mistake of assuming that this exception could be overruled. For our first date, I was going to meet him in the Lower Haight at Molotov's and I was running late. Naturally, the minute I arrive, I realize that I don't have any cash on me (most bars in San Francisco are cash only). I greet him, apologize for my truant behavior, order a PBR (the cheapest possible to make it easier), turn to him and ask if he can cover for me. I promptly followed up with a "I'll pay you back" since I didn't want him to think *gasp* that I was a gold-digger who was after his minimum wage salary. There wasn't even a pause or a flicker of a "yes" in his eyes - instead, he gesticulated towards the street. "There's an ATM at the corner liquor store," he said. "Their withdrawal fees are lower than the ones here." He waited for me to acknowledge his generous instructions while I managed to grumble out a "thank you" despite my "Are you serious?" face. $2.00? He couldn't even cover me for $2.00? Now, I wasn't asking for the beef wellington or the motherfucking foie gras, nor was I expecting him to wipe my ass for me - but that one really threw me because it solidified everything that I didn't want to admit. That's how it is these days. I even felt guilty asking him for the favor in the first place.

Maybe our new wave of thinking are just by-products of our liberal arts degrees, perhaps it's our socioeconomic background or maybe the guys we're dating originally voted for Hillary Clinton and feel they're doing us favors- whatever the reason, when it comes to the bill, we have been conditioned to cover our share. It's not about feminism or being independent - it's just the modern standard. I don't care if the guy is a programmer who makes six figures a year or a drug dealer who moonlights as a dog walker - it's the Hunger Games y'all and it's every woman, man, child for themselves.

I'm sure there are guys out there who are genuinely being nice when they offer to pay - more power to them if they are (if you're one of those guys, where the hell are you hiding? call me, first round is on me). However, no one should be comfortable categorizing 'footing the bill' as a part of the idiosyncrasies of being a "gentleman" these days. I mean, maybe it's my fault for dating within my socioeconomic class where nobody has any money. Maybe Ryan is right and I'm wrong - it's not like I'm calling Morpheus up anytime soon and being like 'yo buddy, forget Neo - I found The One!'. Perhaps the definition of a "gentlemen" evolves with maturity and age. As the current adage attests, maybe "it gets better".

Although they also said that about life after college and I have yet to see any evidence that supports that statement.


  1. seems dating in your twenties is just getting harder. I think unfortunately, there are some women out there who expect men to pay ALL the time and b/c of them, men want to find girls who are willing to split the check. I would never expect a man to treat every time, but I would prefer taking turns treating each other instead of throwing down two credit cards. It's not about getting "taken care of"-- it's about being generous to each other. Sometimes, there's nothing sexier than when my husband buys me AND my girlfriends a drink-- or at least offers to. Perhaps with online dating, men are going out on dates more frequently, which makes treating more of a financial burden for them? GUYS, if you're reading this-- there are also ways to be chivalrous without it costing you money. I dated a guy once who always opened the door for me and would even help me put my coat on when we left places. It was freaking adorable.

  2. Sara, your husband sounds AWESOME. I definitely agree about taking turns, I think it's sweeter than way - though it's been so long since I've gotten to an actual second date I forget the motions.