Harry: office slub, thirty-something, hapless...
Deb: office manager, late-twenties, not afraid to yell at someone, single
Tom: office goomba, late-twenties, single
Harry: She sent me a text message saying, "Let's go to Blue Water Grill tonight." But I had just eaten a turkey burger for lunch and didn't feel like a big meal, so I wrote back to her and said, "Nah, I just had a big meal. Maybe we could do something 'lighter' and keep it low-key."
Tom: Wrong! Now she'll think you're cheap.
Harry: I'm not cheap, I just didn't want a big meal.
Tom: You didn't want to pay for another two big meals.
Harry: I'm not cheap! Anyway, so she texted me back and suggested another blow-out kind of restaurant. So I texted her and said, "I'm really not hungry. How about we meet at _____ [pizza place] in the East Village. If you don't like it we can go for a walk and find something else."
Deb: Uh oh. How did she reply?
Harry: She wrote to me and said, "The second date is all about ambiance. Simple is later in dating. Maybe another time. Bye."
Tom: She thinks you're cheap!
Deb: This is what girls want, Harry.
Harry: But she told me she ate Indian for lunch. What is she, a horse? She wants wine and steak after Indian for lunch? That's like 4000 calories a day!
Deb: But Harold, it's not about what you want. You're taking the girl out. It's not a mutual date.
Tom: Harry, you're becoming a weamb, know what that is? A woman inside a man's body.
Don't text her again. She's already pissed. Call her next week.
Harry: 4000 calories a day! I can't get over it. And really, 'simple is later in dating'? Who says?
Deb: The girl says. And she has a point.
Blah, blah... 5pm and I went home.
I giggled so much overhearing the above exchange. Harry did seem like a bit of a cheapskate, it was obvious he didn't want to pay for his date's meal at an expensive restaurant. And Deb and Tom's theatrical reactions matched Harry's indignation.
However, as I wrote down the conversation (to email it to myself for blog fodder = nerd), I got to musing on the world of Tom, Deb and Harry and I think this conversation really showcases a uniquely American (New-York?), and also quite nasty, side of dating.
1. The guy will pay
It's nice if the guy pays. It's nice if the girl pays. But surely, particularly on the second date when you don't know the other person very well, you would just split the bill? Or, if things go well, one person pays and the other person says, "Thank-you, I'll buy next time."
2. "the second date is about ambiance"
Blegh! That could be a line out of Seinfeld. Or even Sex in the City. It's just so cheesy, and Harry's girl's idea of 'ambiance' seems so cliched; steak, wine and jazz. Why not just skip straight to the marriage proposal up the Eiffel Tower?
3. "it's not a mutual date"
And a girl said this! There really are girls out there who's definition of an ideal partner is "treats me like a princess". Who cares about the guy's personality? As long as he brings you flowers, compliments the colour of your lip gloss and agrees with everything you say then he's perfect.
4. a man trapped in a woman's body = a pathetic man
Poor men! Poor women! Of course, the foremost implication is women are inferior. However, how is a man supposed to respond? It's a trap, for a man to either agree or disagree with this analogy he is confirming it as valid, ie, 'Oh no, I'm a manly man, and I'll prove it but doing the exact opposite of what you think I'll do!" or 'Oh yes, I count calories and expect to go dutch on the bill, so I guess that means I'm effeminte and therefore quite effete and therefore a horrible being with no use on this planet by your implication...'
Dating? I don't think people in Australia 'date' as much as they do in America. It's more about an informal 'hook-up' between friends, rather than a staged outing with rules and regulations.*
Anyway, I might be completely naive, but I think I'll stick with one night stands and marriage.
*Actually, this could be why Australia has never really produced any meaty scripted teevee shows (eg. sitcoms or dramas) about 20 & 30 somethings just finding their way through relationships. There's just not enough dating convention for writers to explore? 'Secret Life of Us' is the best example I can think of... Or, maybe it is just an issue of money, and population size, and people prefering shows about hospitals and police stations and court houses.