Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Picking Up the Check

The moment has arrived. You dab the corners of your mouth with a napkin as the waiter strategically positions the check halfway between you and your date. Now what? You asked, you pay.
I know I’m going to catch a little heat, but my rule for the first date, at least, is the asker (male or female) forks over the dough. After that, you can negotiate other arrangements. Or you can let the check sit there and stew.
What paying means:
  • You’re investing in this relationship . . . no matter how briefly.
  • You’re not cheap . . . on any level.
  • You’ve got class and style and a little jingle in your pocket. Everyone loves all three.
What paying doesn’t mean:
  • You’ve just bought sex, too.
  • You’ve bought yourself another date.
  • Your date now owes you.

Lighten up

No matter what happens, the biggest thing to bear in mind is this: It’s a date —just a date. Not brain surgery or the cure for cancer or the Bill of Rights or Macbeth. It’s not serious drama with dire consequences. It’s a date. So while you’re in the midst of it all, why not lighten up? The punsters weren’t kidding when they said, “Laughter is the best medicine.” Several studies have found that jovial belly laughs not only improve circulation and work muscles all over the body, but they relieve stress much in the same way aerobic exercise does. Even in our darkest moments, laughter can instantly make things seem, and feel, much better. Though I don’t recommend tossing one-liners non-stop, looking on the bright side of a dim moment can mean the difference between a disaster date and one that’s the beginning of a great relationship.

Big date do’s and don’ts

It’s prom night, your sister’s wedding, your 30th birthday, New Year’s Eve, a retirement party at the firm . . . whatever. When it comes to a BIG date, as in not-just-any-old-Saturday-night date, these guidelines help you have a great time:
  • DO plan ahead. Big dates are almost always dates you know are coming weeks in advance. Arrange your date as soon as possible so he or she can mark a calendar, rent a tux, buy a great present, etc.
  • DON’T make a first date a big date. It’s too risky and too loaded.
  • DO ask someone with whom you’re really comfortable. Big dates tend to be longer than your average date and often include family members. The last thing you want is a high-maintenance date.
  • DON’T make your big date such a big deal that your companion feels like it’s a pre-marital date, too. It’s okay to go out on a big date with Mr. or Ms. Kinda Right or Right Now.
  • DO substitute a platonic date when a great date isn’t in the cards. It’s better to have a fun time with a friend (or alone!) than have a miserable time with a date who doesn’t work out.