Author’s note: The title of this week’s post will–in no way– ruin the story. But believe me, this is one of my favorites.
Oh, split-the-check-Fred. You remain in the back of my mind whenever I go on a first date.
I met Fred on my first foray into the world of eHarmony, in Spring 2011. At the time, eHarmony was the place for people seeking serious relationships that lasted.
In a sidebar, six+ years later, that seems like an experiment destined to fail in an epic fashion. But meh, at least I get to write these stories for people to read.
Now, I haven’t been on eHarmony for several years, so forgive me if I messed up their process. But at this period in eHarmony’s existence, they had this guided communication set up for people who connected. First, you send each other multiple choice questions, then short answer questions, and then you can finally email one another through their system.
By the time Fred and I moved from the eHarmony system to chatting on the phone or texting, we’d been in communication for close to a month. Even by 2011 standards, it was a long time to go from introduction to an actual in-person meeting.
Fred seemed like a very nice guy, just a little on the shy side. He is an engineer who, like me, grew up in Orange County.
After a few conversations, Fred asked if I’d like to meet up, and I said yes. I suggested we get a drink or coffee¹, but Fred said, “Actually, let’s go get dinner.”
Rather than seem argumentative, I went along with what he said. To quote my mother, “You’re not one to turn down a meal.” It’s a sad but true fact. I love food.
Fred inquired as to how I feel about Greek food. Fortunately for him, I adore it. He suggested a spot in-between our respective homes and offices.
On the day of our meeting traffic was on my side and I made it just on time. Fred was waiting for me outside the restaurant.
It was fancier than I had realized, so I got a little nervous about our date at that point. Keep in mind, if you please, the restaurant was his selection.
Now, for anyone in the online dating game, we know that pictures don’t always do us justice. Sometimes, people just don’t photograph well. And sometimes we photograph too well. Sometimes, you have just awful pictures and can’t do anything about it.
In Fred’s case, the pictures I saw were cute, but the reality was simple. He just didn’t do it for me.
As a caveat, I will offer up the fact that I try very hard to not let physical appearance influence me when it comes to dates. If possible, I try to get to know someone a little bit better, as I believe attraction can grow.
Ultimately, in my defense, I didn’t bail on the date.
We went in, sat down, and proceeded to have a nice dinner. We chatted about the same exact things we’d been talking about for the last month. The struggle with online dating, what we liked and didn’t like about work, movies, and music we enjoyed, etc.
While the fancy atmosphere was a little bit off-putting, the food was delicious.
When we’d finished our food, it was time for the end of date games to begin.
Was he going to suggest we order dessert? Was he going to casually let me reach for my wallet but tell me to put it away? Was he going to propose that we make plans to see one another again soon? Was he going to make a (shudder) ill-advised move when we left?
Fred looked across the table at me and asked about dessert. As I was in no mind to keep this date going and give him hope that we were hitting it off and going to move forward, I said that it wasn’t necessary.
So when the waitress stopped by our table to check on us and offer dessert, Fred demurred saying “No, thanks we’re both good. If you could bring the check, and please make sure to split it, that would be great.”
You could have knocked me over with a puff of air after he dropped that comment. Ummm, what the hell? Split the check without even asking me?
I know I’ve talked about being pro-equality and yadda yadda yadda, but again. Dating mores from when I started dating eons ago are what they are.
Guys are not supposed to assume a girl is down to split the check–let them fucking offer!
If I had offered to split the check, and he took me up on it, that’s completely fine. I promise you that. But taking the choice away from me on this? I don’t think so.
The good news for me was this sealed Fred’s fate. The bad news for Fred was this sealed his fate.
However, I was not about to put up a fight or make an issue out of it. I kept my mouth shut, and we split the check. $100 each. For the dinner I never wanted to have in the first place. To say I was ticked at the end of the date was an understatement.
So we finished paying, walked out the door. Fred gave me a hug and commented on what a nice time he’d had. I’m sure I muttered some inanities and agreed with him just to get him gone.
I heard from Fred once more after our date, and I’m not completely ashamed to say that I never responded.
But Split-the-Check-Fred lives on. And he’s why I never go to dinner on a first date.²
¹ If you’ve seen Sleepless in Seattle you get what I’m saying here. If not, it’s the general rule of “meet for a drink or coffee because you may not like them enough to share a meal.” Also, if you don’t get that reference, watch Sleepless in Seattle.
² I’m so full of shit. I go on dinner first dates all the time. There’s another story where I do this and live to regret it.