Going Dutch?

A few weekends ago, I took a prospective boy toy out to Miguel’s Stowe Away on Church Street, where we chatted over homemade tortilla chips, crab enchiladas and Mexican beer – arguably the best meal I’ve ever eaten in Burlington, with the best company, of course.

As we flirted into the evening, there was no concern over who would hand over the cash when the bill came because we had figured it out beforehand: I was paying. I paid for the date for a couple reasons; I owed him money and would much rather spend a wonderful evening in his company than just hand him a wad of cash. Especially since a scrumptious meal out on the town is much more conducive to the romantic encounters I hoped would ensue.

But would I have paid for the date had I not owed him? I don’t know. I enjoyed paying for the meal – it’s not something I’ve done often, so it was a treat to be able to take a guy out, rather than the other way around. I felt that by paying, I was somehow flaunting my independence, my rebellion against the societal norm of the guy always paying for the date. Plus, after owing him so much cash, and after he started singing Kanye’s “Gold Digger,” I felt the need to prove that I was not hanging out with him just for his money.

I asked him his opinion on who should dish out for a date and found that, like me, he was conflicted. At first he said that the guy should pay if the girl is having sex with him and otherwise they should split the bill, but then he said he enjoyed treating. I guess he’s somewhere in between: “sometimes I like to pay, but then sometimes I’m cheap.” He also said that he thinks it is good to split the bill because it’s fair to both parties and it makes sense, but then you’re spending the date talking about money, rather than enjoying the deliciously sexy company.

In need of a woman’s opinion, I discussed this issue with a Cynic editor who energetically described a traumatizing experience from her days as a middle schooler. After her eighth grade orchestra performance, a high school orchestra guy asked her to go with him to get a slushy at 7-11. Of course she said yes – he was in high school, for heaven’s sake! They poured their oozing neon slushies, walked up to the register and she slapped a dollar bill on the counter to pay for hers, but he made her put it back in her pocket, insisting that he pay for her 79-cent treat.

My friend and Orchestra Boy (as we not-so-affectionately dubbed him) drove back to her house – well a block away since her mother would flip if she saw them kiss – and he pulled his mommy’s Volvo station wagon to the curb.

And now comes the trauma: My friend was expecting a kiss goodnight and an “I’ll call you tomorrow,” but what she got was far from it. Orchestra Boy unbuckled his seatbelt, leaned over (for what my friend thought would be a kiss), and asked – in all seriousness – “I bought you that slushy, so will you blow me now?”

Who did this band geek think he was? Did he honestly think a girl would “blow him” for 79-cents?

Suffice it to say my friend has never since let any guy – no matter how cute, no matter how broke she was, no matter if he was her boyfriend or not – pay for anything. And I certainly don’t blame her.

Both of these conversations brought me to a question that I am still contemplating: when a guy pays for a date, does he always expect something in return? I always thought that the guy usually pays to be polite, or to assert his manhood and show that he could be a good provider. But is it really that he just wants a piece of ass?

Thinking about this troubling possibility, I can’t help but feel used. Or maybe “used” isn’t exactly the right word. It seems that no matter how I look at it now, a guy paying is not a guy who is being sweet or courteous or old-fashioned.

A guy paying is a guy who wants me in bed.