“Two days before our first date, he sent me an e-mail, 'just to get this out of the way, we're splitting the bill',” my friend told me yesterday. We were having lunch in the Golden Dragon, the big mama of Chinese restaurants on Gerrard Street, when she asked my opinion on going Dutch.
“Well,” I said, “as far as I know, it is the best way to level the financial playing field. I'm not gonna lie about this: when a guy offers to pay the bill, I do feel flattered and old fashioned feminine. But when I really like the guy I usually insist on either paying my share, or paying on the second date. When I don't really fancy him, it depends. If I know I'll never see him again, I prefer a free meal, you know what I mean? But if I'm likely to run into the chap again at uni or house parties, I'd definitely go Dutch, because I don't want feel like I owe him something.”
“I met him at the synagogue,” my friend said, “so I would probably run into him again. But what do you think of the way he brought it?”
We agreed that it would be a lot better for him to ask if it's okay to split when the bill arrived. And accept his loss when the lady looks shocked or says she forgot her purse.
“Personally, I wouldn't mind at all. I'm Dutch, after all, and Dutch people are know for being tight-fisted. But if a guy sent me such an awkward e-mail beforehand, the first thing I would do on the date is have a laugh about it,” I said.
“When I told my other friend about it, the first thing she said was 'oh my, that's so Jewish!'...”
“That would probably be what I'd say to him: 'I can tell I'm dating a Jew!'”
“Actually, I felt quite offended when she said that. I think it's okay for Jewish people to make fun of themselves, but when an outsider does it, it's offensive.”
“That's true,” I said. “When it's not self-mockery, jokes like that lose all finesse, all nicety. I would probably say I didn't realize he was Dutch too, then. It's a lame joke, but it only has to be a catalyst to laugh over his silly gesture, so that we won't feel awkward about it any more.”
Later that night, my British boyfriend asked me the number of one of my friends. I took out my phone and showed him the number without actually offering my phone.
“Can you give him a call?” he asked.
“Why don't you do it yourself?”
“Well, it's your friend.”
“You said you'd get in touch with him.”
“Nevermind,” he said while typing the number in his own mobile. “You can't help it you're Dutch.”