Let's face it: your association with this blog doesn't speak well to your ability to be the life of the party. Do people tend to look at you weird? Do you often wish you could smooth-talk someone into doing what you wanted? Are you often making embarrassing mistakes?
If you answered yes to any of those questions (and even if you didn't), you stand to benefit from the next few week's worth of Mondays. That's right, kids. Today, we begin Etiquette Monday. Let's start with one of the most important topics known to man: How to Avoid Paying for a Date.
Bat your eyelashes at your date and compliment him on being such a gentleman.
Well then. Things get complicated. Let's dig in.
Restaurants that are well prepared to deal with dine-and-dashers are poor choices for a date. How do you spot these bistros? If they have security guards, a maitre d' with a tie, or any of the cooks have tattoos. Also, Denny's is a terrible choice.
Fast food restaurants don't serve you until you've paid. Never ever try a stunt there. You'll end up looking stupid at best.
Your best bet is to find a middle-of-the-road joint (somewhere between Baker's Square and Applebee's) that trusts its customers but won't go bankrupt if you can't shoulder the bill. Most such places smell classy enough that your date will be at least somewhat impressed.
Park away from the restaurant, but not too far away. Do not park in a position easily visible from within. Best case: park it around back where the employees park (provided they have a rear exit to the parking lot). If you have no other options, park on a side street. Visualize an escape route as you walk to the restaurant.
The two things to stay away from are the restrooms and exits. If the restaurant has multiple exits, sit further away from the rear ones (which are more tactically useful). Try to find a table with a blocked line of sight; one which makes it impossible to clearly see anything. At the very least, claim the table with the best view of the doors so your date will have her back to them. Best case: dining on a rear patio, a casino buffet, or in a basement.
If you're being seated and you know where you want to sit, tell the maitre d' that such and such table has special meaning to you and you'd like to sit there again. They will usually accommodate.
Many people attempt the big double D but not many can pull it off correctly, often because they don't have the patience. It requires coordination and teamwork and is pretty risky, but it can be a great bonding experience with your date as opposed to most of the other tactics here which force her to pay.
Here's how it's done:
1) Establish to the waiter that you two are madly in love. Ideas: Order things to split, never stop staring at/touching each other, giggle at what the other person says. This will make you seem absent-minded and endearing while still slightly annoying the waiter so he won't miss you much.
2) Be nice to the waiter. This will prevent him from getting really really mad when you're gone and going after you.
3) Order big. You want to be able to eat your fill while still leaving lots of food on the table.
4) Wait for the waiter to check up on your table. This usually happens about 5-10 minutes after your food is served. When it is, give him a nearly full cup to refill, all the while staring into your date's eyes. This will establish that you don't need any help from him for awhile. Be sure you still have at least 50% of your food still on your plate.
5) Immediately after the waiter leaves, look at your cell phone as if you're getting a call on vibrate. Stand slowly, looking apologetically at your date, then put the phone to your ear and begin a conversation in very quiet tones as you walk quickly outside (to take the call). Take your date's purse with you. If you walk quickly enough people will assume there is a reason for it.
6) Go to your car and start the engine.
7) One hundred seconds later, your date should open her own cell phone as if to check the time. Then she should roll her eyes and walk quickly out of the restaurant. Because she is without her purse, it will occur to no one that she is leaving for good.
The choreography of the Old School DD is so well rehearsed and familiar to us FCN boys that we could do it in our sleep. Unfortunately, it's becoming a bit too popular. With dining staff becoming increasingly wary and cynical, new techniques for exiting the restaurant as a couple are arising, most of them involving public/explained exits. A few popular ones:
Suddenly grab your date's purse and run out of the building. Have your date chase you, laughing. Never come back.
Break up with your date, leaving her in tears. Walk out of the building and have her follow you, begging you not to leave her. Never come back.
Have an asthma attack. Recall that you left your inhaler in the car. Lean on your date as she helps you out. Never come back.
Get into a fight with your date. Start shouting at each other; continue until a dining staff person asks you to take it outside. Do so. Never come back.
Spot an old mutual friend outside. Run out together to greet him, calling his name. Never come back.
Find a hair in the food. Scream and yell in shock together as if you're about to make a huge scene, then run from the building. Never come back.
Of course, you will probably find in many cases that your date is unreceptive to ethically questionable behavior. That's perfectly okay. If she wants to pay for the meal, that's her privilege. Here's how to get away from her around check time:
Go into the bathroom. Hide until you're sure she's given up and gone home.
Go into the bathroom. Text her saying that there was a family emergency and you had to leave. This works best if you arrived at the restaurant in separate cars.
Get a call on vibrate. Tell her it's from your brother the submarine captain. Take the call outside. Never come back.
See an old lady getting mugged outside. Run out to assist her. Never come back.
Get an asthma attack. Tell your date you left your inhaler in your car. Never come back.
Be deeply offended and angered by something your date says. Go outside to cool off. Never come back.
Find an earing on the ground (that means coming prepared and seeding the carpet when she's not looking). Say that you think it belongs to that old lady who just left. Run out to give it back to her. Never come back.
Notice that something is wrong with the food. Go to complain to the kitchen. Never come back.
Tell your date you have a surprise for her, and that she should close her eyes. Never come back.
This is of course an inexhaustive list, but hopefully it's enough to get you thinking along the right lines. Skipping the check means thinking fast, adapting to the situation, and acting totally sincere no matter what. Remember: if you look confident, people won't stop you. The moment a flash of guilt crosses your face you're finished.
Be fast, smooth, and confident, and you'll never have to pay for a date again.