Some days, you will come across something that will make you want to ascend the mountaintops and seek answers from the heavens. And sometimes, you won’t want a response so you feel justified in throwing your body into a violent tumble back down the mountainside. One thing that makes me rationalize the latter is the argument that men should be responsible for paying on a first date. The lack of critical thinking behind this train of thought is disheartening. Every dwarf star in the universe had to align just right for someone’s brain to even conceptualize such a weak idea. This is not subjective either. Your relativism is not welcome at this table of higher thinking, where the salmon is wild caught, the steaks have been slow-cooked for a day, and the wine is as aged as your mother. Just because something works for you, doesn’t mean it’s the correct way of doing it. There’s a universal truth concerning how the situation of paying on a first date should be handled, and I’m confident I was put on Earth to uncover that truth.
First, we need to figure out where this idea originated. A first-page Google search proved to be useless, meaning nobody knows, so I’ll fill in the blanks. I’m willing to bet two sacks of potatoes, a coyote pelt, and my last goat that the idea of a man paying for the first date originated in an era when all those things were valid currency. You know, a time when women didn’t have anything besides a chance of getting a Ric Flair slap chop if they didn’t act right. A time when women were viewed as property instead of people.
Assuming a woman was given the option of going out with a man, he had to pay because women didn’t have anything. Women were getting these first dates paid for by default. Men weren’t paying because they were gentlemen, men were paying because women couldn’t pay. The men didn’t even know they were being courteous; they just thought they were treating their property with respect. The concept of a gentleman becomes murky when you factor in the ownership aspect and realize the women of yesteryear are the John Deere lawnmowers of today. Arguing that men should pay for the first date because it’s traditional is like to trying to pay your rent in pennies. Your loose-change logic is not welcome in this courtyard of royalty, where there’s no supervision and you can get turned upside down and shaken by your ankles until your pockets are empty.
Speaking of royalty, another reasoning I’ve heard in favor of men paying is a woman wants to be treated like a princess. Miss, you don’t even have a moat. And on the off chance that you do, I hope whoever installed the drawbridge to your castle read the instructions upside down and it malfunctions and catapults you across an acre of land.
If you’d like to be treated like a princess, arrange me a meeting with your father, the king, so I can ask him for your hand in marriage and we can negotiate the terms of this transfer of ownership. In the universe you actually live in, your father’s name is Jerry and he’s a mattress salesman. You will not be treated like a princess, nor do you deserve to be. Your medieval fantasies are not welcome in this household of scholars, where the library resembles Lex Luthor’s, the meditation room is outfitted with five separate waterfalls, and the family pet is a Bengal tiger.
As we move on from the flimsy arguments that are tradition and fantasy, let’s look at another argument from the potpourri pot of fuckshit. The position is, “if you invite me somewhere, you’re the one who should pay.” At first glance, this is almost passable as sound logic. On second glance, it’s like looking at someone with muscular dystrophy attempt a cartwheel. I send out about 13 texts a day that say, “ey breh, you trying to fuck around and eat?” I have to pay now? Try doing that with one of your friends next time they ask you to go get food. “I didn’t bring my money. You invited me so I thought you were going to pay.” Now I understand there are a different set of norms and expectations that come with a friendship as opposed to a potential romance, but applying this logic to the latter is even more misguided. With a potential romance, you’re dealing with somebody you don’t even know. And you expect them to pay for you. Your sixth sense must be entitlement.
When it comes to the belief that men should pay on the first date, entitlement is the shaky foundation this halfway house of logic was built upon. Entitlement is the diluted gasoline that fuels these princess fantasies and bootleg reasonings. The only thing people should feel entitled to is the common courtesy of not getting punched in the face, but even that’s arguable. You must acknowledge the fact that, on a first date, both parties involved do not know each other. So to expect a stranger to pay for you is a little fucking nuts. You haven’t built anything with this person for you to feel so deserving. This sense of entitlement is probably the reason Big L only had hard dick and bubble gum for women.
So what is the proper course of action? How should the bill be handled? Should the man insist on paying? Now I’m not against a man paying, just against the expectation that he should. But no, this is off. Should the woman pump fake like she’s going to pay for herself out of courtesy, all the while expecting the man to pay? Don’t be passive-aggressive. If you’re going to be entitled, at least do it with conviction. Stare at him while he reaches for his wallet and say, “Make sure you leave a good tip.” But no, this won’t do either. Should the man make her go into the restaurant’s kitchen and wash dishes to pay for the tab and train her for her future responsibilities? While most efficient, no.
I’ve summoned the spirit of Aristotle and his funny robe to come up with the one morally-centered, just, and virtuous solution: both parties insist on paying for themselves. I know this idea of adults being held to some sort of accountability is in the same line of thinking that got Jesus stapled to a two-by-four, but you people don’t know my address. Jesus would’ve been safe had the Internet been around. People probably would’ve just reported him as spam.
A first date is nothing more than an opportunity for two people to get to know each other. If a person you do not know extends you an invitation to do something, they’re offering you their time and nothing more. Just as you don’t want your time wasted, neither do they. But it’s a small risk that must be taken. Time should be the sole investment on a first date, not because you deserve it either, but because it’s the only thing left to give after taking away the financial aspect. Being deserving of something isn’t inherent. You must spend time in order to be deserving of a more personalized treatment. Why should anybody spend anything extra than their time, which is already invaluable, on a person they haven’t built anything with? So be a functioning member of society and cover your own expenses. You paying for yourself is your buy-in to the pot of love. You can’t win the pot unless you put your chips down. And when you finally build something with someone and upgrade to true love, then you two can go to a restaurant on the outskirts of town and dine-and-dash together so nobody has to pay.
This isn’t a battle cry for the men, nor is it an attack on the women. This is an insult to all of you. For this outdated idea to still be in circulation is a true testament to the peasantry still being practiced today. Remember, I’m not saying this is the only way that works, I’m saying this is the correct approach. I’m sure a sucker exists for every one of you with entitlement issues, and may the universe balance itself out by bringing you both together. But your sense of entitlement is not welcome in this gated community of the humble, where each house was built from the ground up by its owner, the residents carry their own weight, and everybody recognizes each other as human beings. The only thing we don’t do is our own laundry, because there’s a spot down the road that has a wash-and-fold service and that’d just be inefficient to not take advantage of it.