My husband and I sat next to each other at a restaurant the other day for lunch. As we enjoyed a delicious meal and lively conversation, I noticed a ruckus at the table next to ours and turned slightly to see what was going on. Four women who looked to be in their eighties had just received their check.
“Sylvia,” one woman said to her friend across the table from her. “You owe $5.88.”
Sylvia replied, “But Mildred, I had one stuffed mushroom and three chips from the appetizer platter. I think I owe $7.13 because four of us split the appetizer which was $5.00.”
“If you pay $7.13, then I don’t know how much I owe because I only ate two chips and a ½ of a stuffed mushroom,” Mildred said.
“Pass me two dimes and five pennies for this quarter,” Sylvia replied as she slid her coin across the table.
My husband shook his head and whispered, “There’s more money being exchanged across that table than has been exchanged at the Federal Reserve Bank in the entire month!”
Mildred passed the coins to Sylvia. There was a long silence as they all stared at the ticket. “Does anyone have five ones for a five?” asked one of the women to anyone at the table who hadn’t turned their hearing aids off already.
“Wait a minute,” Gertrude pointed her finger at the ticket. “We didn’t add the tax and drinks in our totals!”
“Oh God,” my husband muttered.
“This is a fascinating study of the human race,” I laughed. “And it’s a bit scary because right now, I can see into my future and I know I will be one of those ladies someday.”
I’ve said many times before and I’ll say it again. I think it’s easier to be a man. If four men go to lunch with each other, one inevitably will pick up the check and insist on paying for the entire lunch. Women ask for separate tickets because we’re too cheap to pay for four lunches because we think to ourselves, “After I leave here, I have to buy pantyhose, milk, a carton of eggs, and Metamucil and I only have $15.00 cash in my purse.” Plus, we don’t have an extra hour at the end of each meal to argue over who owes what.
Men never ask for individual checks because they are comprised of two key components: testosterone and an ego. As a result, any member of the male species would be humiliated if anyone even suggested they request separate checks. After the meal, they all carefully watch for the waiter coming their way with the little black book in hand. They crouch like tigers ready to pounce on a raw steak. The waiter tries to place the black book in the middle of the table, but each time, one of the men has been blessed with cat-like reflexes (or has had too much coffee with dessert) and manages to grab the ticket before anyone else can. There might be a fist fight, or loud and boisterous protests from the other males at the table, or the ticket might become ripped or shredded, but there is never any money exchanged across the table.
I was jolted back into the present with the sound of a coins rattling. Mildred was shaking the contents of her purse on the table. “I know I have another dime in here somewhere,” she mumbled.
“Look,” her friend exclaimed, “All I know is that I had a tuna sandwich and a cup of coffee and my total is $16.45 according to Sylvia over here. That just doesn’t seem right.”
Sylvia argued, “Look, I don’t even remember what I had for lunch it’s been so long since I ate it. We’ve been arguing over this check for 25 minutes!”
My husband sighed and stood up. He walked over to their table and placed a twenty dollar bill in the middle. They all gasped. “Ladies,” he said, “I’m buying your lunch today. And you might want to think about bringing an accountant to lunch with you the next time.”
As he walked away from their table to get his coat, I managed to squeak after him, “What about my lunch?”
“You’re on your own,” he said. “I’ve had too much exposure to estrogen. I’m starting to feel light-headed.”
As I grabbed my purse and pulled out money to pay our waiter, I overheard one of the women at the table say, “Well, that’s great that stranger bought our lunch, but does anyone know how much we should each contribute to the tip?”
There’s just so much to look forward to as we get older.