Monday, October 4, 2010

The Reach

I take my last sip of sake.

He asks for the check.

The bill comes, tucked in a black leather booklet, propped just a smidge closer to him than it is to me on the table.

It's formal dinner date number three (or maybe four. Either way, very new.) We're at a pretty swanky sushi restaurant in Midtown (complete with ambient music and bubbling rock garden bathroom sink.) It wasn't a bad date. He looks cute. Conversation is flowing, enough. I'm quiet for a couple minutes contemplating whether or not we'll smooch after dinner.

He finally unfolds the black leather booklet. I position myself for "the reach", a particularly insincere one.

Ladies, you know "the reach" I'm referring to. The let me move my hand in slow motion toward my purse, rummage through aimlessly and maybe start to mutter something along the lines of "What do I owe?"- a choreographed set up for the guy to shew away my credit card and insist that he's "got it."

When one performs this reach there's rarely any intention of actually contributing to the bill. It's just what we lady folk do. We don't want to seem entitled or unappreciative so we "offer."

My male readers (all three of them) are likely scoffing at their computer screens. The reach represents everything manipulative and hypocritical about modern women blah blah blah. I disagree. Look, I hate the word entitled too, but in the courting stage of a budding relationship all women are absolutely entitled to a few free meals. It's the only shred of chivalry we've got left. And, at the end of the day, it's not all about us. Paying for a girl's dinner- refusing the reach- is a timely opportunity at the end of a date for a man to puff up, pound his chest and showcase the masculine charm all girls want. Pick up the check. Pull out her chair. Open her door. Text her to make sure she got home OK. This stuff really works.

Back at the sushi restaurant, I'm in mid-reach.

"So umm if you want we could maybe split the check this time, if you want," I suggest quietly. My hand is wrist deep in my purse pretending to search for a wallet.

"Sure, that works," he replies casually.

My stomach drops. Uh, buddy, aren't you familiar with the reach?

"Yea, totally. Here you go." I fake a smile, pluck out my credit card and launch it at his face. Kidding. I poltitley place it in the black leather booklet.

It was sushi in Manhattan. It wasn't cheap.

And just like that I started to like the dude a whole lot less. Don't get me wrong. There were certainly other reasons why that meal became our last. But, when recounting the saga to girlfriends, I couldn't help but bring it up.

Is it shallow, snobby, superficial? A little bit. But it's true.

For the record, I'm only campaigning for free meals in the beginning. Once you're an item it's more than acceptable to split the bill or offer to pay for him.

Just consider this post a public service announcement. Fellas, suck it up and pick up the first few checks. I promise we're worth it.


  1. HE IS SUPPOSED TO PAY!!! Don't feel bad for being snobby or superficial. I have had this conversation with so many people so many times and every girl, no matter how tough, rich, poor, insecure, confidant, it doesn't matter, she will like a guy "a whole lot less" from the simple fact that he accepted your offer to split it. If he can't afford it, he can take you somewhere cheaper, cook for you or just come up with something else to do.

  2. I have dated some BROKE boys, and they won't take me out in the beginning unless they know they can afford it. What an idiot for making you pay. Why do boys in NY not court anymore. ugh!

  3. My girl and I have been fighting about this. Here's what I wrote on a long facebook thread:

    Time for the villain to weigh in...

    Above all else, I think equality in a relationship is key. Assuming that both people have similar financial resources and it is not a date, but a regular, daily meal, I think the expenses should be split e...qually. Whether this is done by rotation, as Blair suggested, or by splitting each bill, as "Pita" said, it doesn't matter.

    Even in the "courtship" phase, which, again, is not our situation, I don't think the man should be obligated to pay. Equality is always important. When I am getting to know a girl, I am not necessarily out to fuck her, or somehow win her over. I want to get to know each other to see if we might be compatible. To say that men should pay to "give the woman a reason to stick around" is to assume that the man already has such a reason while the woman doesn't. Perhaps Michael S. was only joking when he made this argument, but I can only interpret this to mean that a woman's value is in her looks (which are readily apparent), while a man's value is more substantial and less superficial.

    It may seem provocative to advocate for the death of chivalry, but I submit to you that paternalism is the flip-side of the chivalry coin. Although I think that women should pay equally, I also think that men should help out with the kids, the cooking, cleaning, etc., all in equal shares. Perhaps this is somewhat unrealistic, considering that women will naturally have to give birth and nurse, etc., but to the extent it is possible, every effort should be made to make things equal.

    As Arnie was saying, it strikes me as odd that women will bemoan the death of chivalry even though it was simultaneously an age of the subjugation of women. Even now, women make less for the same work. Until women insist on equality, even when they would otherwise be the beneficiaries of traditional gender norms, it will always be a man's world.

    -John McKnight

  4. John McKnight is the best, you are an idiot