In so very many ways, it’s endearing and touching that you insist on paying the entire dinner bill for your friends and family. I especially like when an adult son absolutely demands to pay the bill for his elderly parents. Touching, really. So why do you all always ruin the moment by FIGHTING OVER THE BILL?
I wish I had such problems when I go out. Whenever I eat at elegant restaurants like 21 Oceanfront or The Ritz Restaurant, there’s no fighting over the bill. No. Whenever the waiter presents the bill to my table, my date—usually a jejune blonde whose occupation is something like “hostess” or “personal assistant”—freezes like Hermione plagued with the Immobulus spell. She does not move. Her hand will not move towards the bill. There is no motility of any part of her body towards the bill. So that’s my life. She, like a restaurant manager during the lunch rush, just sits there like a statue.
But you….you go in the opposite direction. It’s literally D-Day with you when the bill comes. Seriously. There’s less conflict in the Gaza Strip then there is at your table when I present the bill to you. I drop the bill in the middle of the table like any sane waiter would do. Then it happens…..you, your son, your dad, and your grandfather all lunge towards the bill like Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Count Dooku lunging for a lost lightsaber after a two-hour-long Force duel. By the way, how do both Anakin and Obi-Wan lose to a super-old Count Dooku? I mean, I know that Dooku is also Saruman the White but you would think that The Chosen One Who Will Bring Balance to the Force and the Jedi Master Who Trained Him could beat a 65-year-old out-of-practice and disgraced ex-Jedi, right?
After the grab for the bill, the pleading begins. “Waiter, sir, waiter—you must not, you CANNOT, allow my 95 year old grandfather to pay this bill! He’s on Social Security! He can’t even afford to buy dog food!” “Sir, you must not allow my son to buy me dinner! He bought dinner last time and four of the previous seven times. Therefore, I must purchase dinner this time to even the score!” “Good sir, allow me to purchase dinner for my father, grandfather, and great grandfather! They all raised me from when I was a baby inflicted with jaundice to the man I am now.”
After the pleading comes the threats. Yes. The threats. I am literally doing my job and I am getting threatened by four upper-class scions and patriarchs of South Orange County. “Waiter, if you let my son pay this bill, I will never come here again!” “I will personally get you fired and ensure that you never work in this town again if you let my father pay the bill, even though he’s just being a good dad by trying to pay the bill!” “I’ll cut my own eye out! MY OWN EYE OUT if you do not let me pay this bill.”
After that comes The Assault of the Cards. This is where they literally just start pelting you with Credit Cards, much like the Apostle Paul was stoned by Romans in The Book of Acts. I’ve literally taken American Express Black Cards to the face from Octogenarians desperate to prevent their kids from paying bills. They’ll chase you, too. You’ll tell them, “Hey—I’ll come back in 10 minutes after you figure this out.” But no. They’ll chase you. They’ll chase you through the restaurant trying to get you to take their card. You know when Bodhi chases Johnny Utah on foot in Point Break? That’s what happens to me on a daily basis in a fine-dining two-story restaurant, only I’m a better actor than Keanu Reeves and the chasers are a little more alive than Patrick Swayze. (Too soon?)
So anyway, I will now always adopt the “Drop to Youngest” rule. I’ll drop the check to the youngest adult male member of the family. While I doubt this will prevent all the fighting, at least I won’t accumulate any more J.P. Morgan Chase Infinity Chairman Diamond Card scars to my delicate skin.*
*By the way, you never get pelted with Discover Cards. Seriously. No one who has a Discover Card insists on paying the bill. Whenever I get a Discover Card, I always have to pause and think….”Wait….What is this? Is this a Credit Card?”