Q: A man asked me to a movie. When confirming the date, he asked if I would like to go to dinner, too. He picked a restaurant, gave me a vague description of the location and said he would meet me there.
I found the exact location of the restaurant with some difficulty and took a cab. When looking over our menus, he suggested one appetizer and two entrees, saying the meal would be served family style. It wasn't. So he gave me half of his dinner and held up his plate for half of mine.
I started putting pieces of meat on his plate. Then he, eyeing a large piece, stabbed it with his fork and put it on his plate. When the bill came, he stared at it for a long time and then said, "It will be about $10--$10 each."
I was surprised, but without batting an eye gave him $10. At the movies, he went in line first and bought his ticket only. I paid for mine. After the movie, he suggested a drink, which he paid for, and offered me a ride home.
The date was pleasant enough, but I was surprised I was expected to pay most of my own way. Shouldn't he have made this clear from the beginning?
A: Alas, we are living in confused times. There are gentlemen who are insulted when a lady shares the expenses of an evening out and gentlemen who are insulted when she does not. Let us be charitable and assume that this particular person moves in a circle where sharing is expected and did not therefore feel obliged to declare himself as deviating from what he thought were conventional standards.
The one thing that Miss Manners can tell you is that you will not find happiness with this gentleman. The custom of splitting expenses has become a socially acceptable alternative to the still dominant one of the gentleman's paying and the lady's finding ways (an aunt's theater tickets being the chief way) of reciprocating.
But grabbing the best piece of meat from another person's plate will never be socially acceptable.