New Lows in Bill Paying

Posted on March 5, 2012

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This story is from Stacy, a 23-year-old acting student living in NYC, as told to Raz.

Jason and I met in a bar, and I was immediately attracted to him. But when he asked me out the next day, I was really nervous. I’d never been on a post-college date, and I wasn’t sure how it worked. I stopped by a friend’s apartment before our dinner to ask advice. She told me to just be myself, calmed me down, and taught me the “reach for the wallet” trick. You know it: you reach into your purse when the check comes, acting as if you’re totally willing to pay your half. Of course, he’ll immediately stop you. “I’ve got this,” he’ll say. And voila! You’ve essentially offered to pay without an uncomfortable conversation. She had a little more experience than me in that department, so I took her word for it. Man, was that a mistake.

After a somewhat awkward but not totally awful dinner with Jason, the check arrived. I reached for my purse. He didn’t stop me. I pulled out my wallet. He didn’t stop me. I opened my wallet. He didn’t stop me. I pulled out my Visa. “It’s $40 each,” he said. WTF? Secretly hating my friend for doing a terrible job preparing me for this moment, I smiled and put down the card.

The waitress approached. “Oh sorry,” she said. “We only take cash and American Express.”

“Oh, that card is all I have,” I turned to Jason. This was his chance to step up. To remember that I am in acting school and only working part-time, that I really can’t afford a dinner like that, and that every dating book in the world says that he should pay. He said absolutely nothing. Literally, he just sat there while the waitress stood there waiting. “Well,” I offered, “If you can cover me, we can stop at an ATM so I can pay you back.” He huffily agreed and pulled out his wallet for more cash.

Before we’d even left the restaurant, he’d located the closest ATM on his phone. “It’s only a 20-minute walk from here,” he said. A 20-minute walk! Of course, in my heels it was more like 30, and I had lost all desire to carry on the small talk we’d been having during dinner. As I was handing him his precious $40, I was aching for my slippers and my bed, with no intention of ever seeing Jason again.

“How about we get one more drink?” he asked. I smiled politely. “Wow, that sounds great,” I said. “But I’m so tired, and I have an early audition tomorrow.” I gave him a hug and called a cab. Thank God for acting classes.


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