We were talking about our past week this morning. We’ve both been really busy, a little beat down by some long hours. I told her I was going to be in town to run some errands and offered to stop by. She said she would like that (progress.) I suggested wine and pizza. My treat.
Sudden pause. Shit. I’m obviously pretty oblivious to the workings of the female mind but I know one thing for sure: when a conversation about plans is flowing and there’s a delayed response she has either 1) gotten busy or 2) paused to think about something. Maybe this is a glass half-full attitude, but a “pause for reflection” tends to end up poorly for me.
“It always ends up being your treat. You never let me buy anything”
Uh oh. I feel like I explained myself pretty well in slew of desperate recovery texts. She seemed to accept the answer. But as a man of my profession with a tendency to over-analyze, I have to wonder if maybe that hit a nerve. She’s pretty upfront about what she’s thinking so I’m not particularly worried about it.
This has been an issue for me on dates in the past, though. I picked one female up for a date and, out of habit, went and opened the door for her. She looked at me like I had a male reproductive organ growing out of my forehead.
“Am I not capable of doing that?”
“Uhh…well…sure you are…just…uh…trying to be nice.”
Obviously the ride to the restaurant was a little awkward. Things got better over dinner. C0nversation was fairly pleasant. Then, as things wound down, the waiter handed me the check. I pulled out my card, threw it in the folder, and put it down. I smiled at her and put my napkin on the table.
“I had a pretty good time tonight. So can I take you for ice cream?”
“What the hell was that? I’m JUST a designer, so I can’t pay for my half of the food?””Ya know…I should really watch my calories.”
Obviously I didn’t pursue a second dinner too aggressively. I’ve got to be honest, that confuses me a little bit. I have no issues with feminism. I don’t understand what it’s like to be a woman because I’m not one. I believe them when they say there are barriers in place that prevent them from being treated equally. I have sisters and a mother that I adore, and God forbid anyone were to ever mistreat them because they’re women. I’d be the first get redneck in their defense. And I’m sure there are legitimately chauvinist men out there who make being a woman harder than it should be.
I’m just not sure that war is best fought on the grounds of a first date. I could give my soapbox on the dying ideals that made men honorable. It’s antiquated and backwards to some people, and I’m aware of that. So I’ll save it. I could also lament that fact that most men who call themselves “gentlemen” only concern themselves with that term when it comes to impressing a woman enough to get her into the sack. I’ll save that too.
Here’s my simple truth: I pay for dinner, open doors, pull out chairs, etc. — because I care about the woman I’m doing that for. Even in the context of a first date, I’m pretty honored that she’s decided I’m interesting enough to give up a Saturday evening to meet me. So I care. Care so much, in fact, that I’m willing to put aside my absurd cheapness and splurge a little.
And here’s the thing about caring: I can say all I want, but actions speak a million times louder. One of the biggest problems with our country and our world is that we’re willing to talk about things until we’re blue in the face. Very rarely, though, are we willing act on those words. So I make a conscious effort to defy that norm. Add that to the fact that I tend to be a little (a lot) awkward with women in a romantic setting, and I feel like paying for dinner is a perfectly acceptable token of gratitude. “Thanks for allowing me to stumble through casual conversation with you while trying to avoid eye contact.”
I’m not saying my girlfriend is a feminist taking a stand. Or that I could ever blame her for questioning me for always paying for things. The more I think about it, she probably just feels guilty. She’s caring like that, and that’s why I love her. But I hope I can make her understand that everything I just said applies to her but in a much bigger fashion. I don’t just care about her. I love her. I want her to know that I can take care of her. I want her to know that she’s bigger than money to me. I want her to know that I’m never going to get so comfortable that I’ll stop dating her, even if we’re married. My time and money talks. It says “I love you, and I will do anything to make you happy.”
Maybe that’s antiquated. Maybe that’s backwards. Maybe I’m even more clueless than I suspect I am and I’m running around offending people and I’m a total jerk for doing so.
Or maybe — just maybe — I just wanna buy her some damned pizza. She can get it the next time if she wants. I love pizza either way.