Part 33: Splitting the Bill

As you can probably tell from the fact that I’ve been sitting on my arse writing this shiz every night for over a month, it’s been a while since I was entertained by decent fella*. Well, that’s perhaps an exaggeration, depending on your definition of ‘a while’, but it’s certainly been a while since I went on a date and didn’t have a moment of awkward when it came to deciding who was supposed to pay for what.

I know that most people have a pretty strongly held opinion on the ‘who should pay’ thing. Everyone I’ve ever met is willing to discuss it at length, until it comes to the point when they’re actually on a date and the bill arrives. The obvious problem is that it doesn’t do to announce one’s payment preference too crudely, in case it ruins one’s chances with a person who has already indicated, by virtue of agreeing to spend some time alone with you under the guise of romance, that they would not be entirely adverse to the idea of sexual intercourse.

This is why I’m a bit jealous of the gay community, who I understand operate a policy of 50/50 unless the date was clearly instigated by an invite from a particular party, in which case that party pays. This seems fair enough, offering room for both equality and generosity, and not creating potentially uncomfortable moments that might lead to any sex that may occur later on being a bit terse and resentful – demonstrating, yet again, that the gays have it sorted.

Unfortunately, I am not gay – and, as the heterosexual community have yet to come up with any straightforward (oooh, that was almost a pun!) way of approaching this issue, I’m going to give you my preference up front – confident in the knowledge that it will secure my single status.

This is the deal, gentleman of my future: it’s 2012, I’m a feminist who likes nail varnish (a radical feminist, if the state of my bikini line – which I just realised could actually be seen, in all its unshaven glory, by colleagues and strangers in the outfit I wore to work today – is anything to go by), I’m all into independence and doing it for ourselves and that, but if we go out I still want you to pay for dinner, the first drink, and my taxi home. Especially if you’ve been invited to get in it with me.

I don’t know if all the other single ladies agree with me here, but as far as I’m concerned splitting the bill was not what we meant when we asked for equal rights. It’s fairly low down on the priority list, equality wise – coming somewhere below having to lift heavy boxes, and pretend to enjoy Match of the Day. The way I feel about it is, yes, I want equality, but how about if paying for dinner bothers them so much the men, as a collective, get together and pack it in with the condescension, objectification, domestic violence, rape, taking all the wages, fighting all the wars e.t.c, before they expect us to pay our own way? Otherwise, that’s not feminist victory, it’s just maintaining the status quo, and voluntarily giving up the only incidental perk that oppression has afforded us.

I’m aware that many men reading this, particularly stupid ones, will be going ‘gold-digger!’ in the back of their tiny minds, and shaking their heads at this evidence of the shallowness of evil woman. I’m not really in the habit of excusing myself, but hear me out for moment: I don’t want your money, long term. I’m not really that bothered if what you’re paying for is a quarter pounder with cheese from Burger King, or a steak at the insanely priced restaurant chain Gauchos (that’s a lie, I obviously would care about that, fairly extremely), the point is the gesture, the demonstration via money that you give a shit, and both want to, and know how to, impress a lady. This should all be done with good grace and authority, with no hint of the fact that paying for dinner has either pissed you off, or made you feel smug and superior. Both of these things will tarnish your chances of getting sex later on.

As I read back over what I’ve written above, I realise that my dating imagery is wildly unrelated to the recent ‘dating’ realities I’ve experienced. Namely, those which involve meeting someone when you’re both half cut in a bar, and waking up unable to remember who paid for what, or indeed where you went, or going out for a quiet pint with someone you’ve been mates with for ages and don’t really mind buying a drink for anyway. Still, the reality of my own life has never got in the way of my making a point before, so allow me to say this: I’m declaring splitting the bill a reason to be single. Until men can agree that it’s right and proper for them to pay on the first date, we ladies should all stay indoors sulking, dining on cold leftover Chinese food, painting our toenails, and writing bitter, tongue-in-cheek blogs that will spark the next sexual revolution. Come on girls, let’s do this.

* Soz for the cringey ‘fella’ lingo, but I’ve been watching documentaries on East End gangsters for the last three days and the vernacular is rubbing off on me.

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