As any woman who has ever been on what society labels as a “first date” knows, nothing feels as awkward as that Faux Wallet Move.
You know the drill. The bill comes. You fumble through your bag, halfheartedly looking for that little Comme des Garçons sucker that holds your financial credentials, while simultaneously observing his actions with the precision of a boarder control officer. Will he put his card on the table and move the bill away, out of sight and out of mind? Or is he – gulp – waiting for you to actually cover your portion of your negroni-fueled fiesta? In any case, you locate your card (because physical Ben Franklins instigate greed in people, making them more likely to collect) and slide it over. Best-case: he rejects it – you insist – he tells you that you can get him a drink later – you internally breathe a sign of relief, knowing that he has officially passed and there is a chance at a foreseeable future. Not-so-best-case: he accepts your card – asks the server to split half way (or, even worse, cover your exact portion!) – extinguishes any desire you may have to make out with him after the date – gets written off in the “time wasted” category and becomes yet another object of mockery to your friends.
This is the point where about 50% of you want to rip me to shreds, proclaim me to be anti-feminist – in fact, an embarrassment and impediment to the feminist movement altogether – and write me off as a pathetic Russian gold-digger. Unfortunately for nobody more than myself, I don’t belong to the category of women looking for a free ride in life, mainly because a – I’m a masochist, b – I’m too much of a pain in the ass to merit it and c – I find it detrimental to the entire concept of love, which I am very much a sucker for. In fact, let the record that is this blog show that I mostly date broke hipsters, starving artists, the creative classes who do not even have health insurance, let alone penthouses in the Gehry building next door. And yet, it is imperative for me that a man pays for the first date, particularly one that he invites me on. Here’s my point-to-point reasoning, as backed up by my savvy friends.
1. It shows you how a man was raised. Do you want to date a man who carries your luggage up the stairs and holds doors open for old ladies and gives up his seat on the subway for the same aforementioned old ladies, and also pregnant ladies and maybe even regular ladies who look a bit tired? If so, you most likely want a man who will foot the bill for that first lunch, as all these things go hand-in-hand and it this is one surefire indicator that he had decent role models growing up and heard the words “manners” and “gentleman” uttered a few times during his formative years.
2. It equilibrates the market. As my smart lawyer-turned-publicist friend pointed out (then again, maybe not-so-smart?), women make $.70 to a dude’s $1. We also have to invest way more into date preparation than men do, manicures and blowouts and all other Kardashian-inspired, US-cultivated primping techniques included. You know where women split the bill? France. You know what else women if France do? Forgo showers. (JOKING. But still.) A man footing the bill is something that we can re-negotiate after we get those equal wages in place and have men stop for fresh shaves en route to dinner.
3. It’s not going to mess up feminism or manenism or any of that gender equality stuff. You have my word on this one. We understand that we are living in a time when things are changing, when men seek the right to be sensitive, just like we seek the right to be independent. We’re all for men wanting more involvement in family life (umm HELLO hot Williamsburg stroller dads!) and needing us to remove an element of financial pressure by contributing to the family Pot o’Gold. (For more on this, listen to this guy.) Not only do we know we need to work, we want to work, as to occasionally belong to a society not created by Walt Disney! Yet, this has nothing to do with you paying for that first coffee or dinner, which is a simple way of showing us that you are interested in us and, therefore, interested in courting us just a little bit. And trust me, you can still be a modern man while being a gentleman, just like (I hope, at least) you can still be an independent woman while being a lady. (Or you can be a chick who writes a blog about her love life and still demands ladylike respect! It’s a free world out there!)
Et voila. Incessant over-analysis terminated. Case closed. Now, take out your goddamn wallet.