Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

How Gays Split a Check at a Restaurant

Yesterday was just another day in which I felt so sad for straight people! What a terrible story to hear about how it is to dine out with the straights. The young, unmated heterosexual people are so often locked in a struggle of resentment and desire and jealousy and insecurity and misunderstanding. Then you put money and status-seeking and sexual conquest (all of that mostly on the mens' side!) on top of those inflamed and engorged feelings, and blammo, the whole powderkeg goes up in flames and next thing you know, someone's being called a douche and someone's being called a whore. And that is why straight people actually shouldn't dine out together, ever. But there is another way. Possibly it's instructive how the gays share in the purchase of food and beverages at restaurants.

To be fair, I'm really talking about the gay men, but I don't want to omit our lady-loving ladies, as they are too often omitted. But honestly? We shouldn't even talk about how lesbians split checks. It so often literally defies parody, and I am serious, so sisters, please, I love you but don't even roll up on me to disagree, you know that I am right when I say that Cassandra just had the tabouleh salad, and she's not going to even round up to the nearest cent when she puts in her share. I have been there with you in Berkeley and I have held your hands in Louisville and stood by you in Brooklyn, and the lesbian check-dividing game is terrifying all around the world, so usually when there is a token gay man involved, he just overpays by at least 100%, in cash, because the ladies only love cash, and then he goes outside to smoke and wait out the barely-repressed violence of the processing. (What happens behind our backs, from what I hear, is even more bonkers.)

But here is what happens, in my experience, and this is not a parody, when the gay men go out to eat, whether it's at a hotdog stand or it's two-star Michelin.

Gay: "Give me that check, it is my turn!"

Other Gay: "That is crazy talk, you paid three weeks ago at [name of other equally wonderful spot]! Please, please let me!"

Third Gay: "Oh, you guys, that means it's my turn, give it here!"

Fourth Gay: [Secretly has already handed plum-colored American Express card to server ten minutes ago, and now all the gays realized that the check that has just been delivered is merely waiting for a signature, not a card.]

All Gays: "You guys!"

The end. Exeunt gays. Everyone hugs repeatedly!

Straight people should try to think about something besides getting laid once in a while, or about someone other than themselves. Weird, right? Never thought I'd say that, but here we are.

91 Comments / Post A Comment

David Cho (#3)

This is my favorite straight vs. gay convo with Choire ever:

Tulletilsynet (#333)

I'm … gay? Really?

Apparently, so is my dad. Huh!

barnhouse (#1,326)

Me too!! #bigsurprisethere #orelsejustCuban

ericdeamer (#945)

All foreigners are also gay it would seem.

MattP (#475)

@ericdreamer: isn't that how we explain the whole soccer thing?

allyzay (#321)

You are forgetting the gays who try to pull the Attractive Female thing!

lempha (#581)


allyzay (#321)

All of the ones of these I know also like to eat at Hooters!

Also how Italian American men (not young men) split a check.

SidAndFinancy (#4,328)

Only with fewer "you guys!" Maybe a few "youze guys"?

(I apologize in advance if this is offensive in any way. I am Irish and drunk, so I enjoy a good stereotype.)

As if we need ANOTHER reason to support gays being allowed to marry: the father-in-law who ALWAYS picks up the check.

Lockheed Ventura (#5,536)

Once again, the Gays win. It's just not fair.

Rod T (#33)

"You get this, I'll pay for the coke."

iplaudius (#1,066)

It all comes out in the wash I mean drugs.

Harry Cheadle (#6,316)

That sounds like how my family splits checks. I know some gays who split checks this way:
[the beginning of the meal]
Gay: I'll just have drinks, I think. (pause) I'm too poor to eat here.

Rod T (#33)

I almost compared Sicha to Moylan.

saythatscool (#101)

Repeat those words again and I will find you and kill you.

RickVigorous (#214)

That would be downright mean.

amuselouche (#448)

Ha! Now that I think about it, I guess I did pretty much learn my check-paying technique from the gays. Under their wise instruction, I've been happily over-paying and picking up checks for years. Mainly just because I want people to be happy and have a nice dinner rather than bugging out about 1/4th of a chopped salad? Either way, now that I am unemployed a surprising number of people are picking up checks for me. Niceness, it works!

You give me hope. (see below)

amuselouche (#448)

It all evens out, I swear! And in the interim, just go to every sorry ass dinner party with a secret wine pouch filled with better quality wine for you and you alone (niceness has its limits and Carlo Rossi is one of them).

iplaudius (#1,066)

This can’t be true for poor college-gays and grad-school-gays, but even they will err on the side of overpaying a split check.

InfoMofo (#505)

This is also how Chinese people pay at restaurants with family friends, only with much more dramatic flair.

My dad is like a bill-paying ninja. If it's a family friend, he will have made arrangements to pay for the bill before appetizers have even arrived.

ericdeamer (#945)

All Asians are like this. The fights to be the one to pay/stop the other person from paying literally get physical sometimes.

Bittersweet (#765)

My aunt is the same way…every time we beat her to the check, we find a stack of twenties in the car or on the counter at home.

ejcsanfran (#489)

My favorite long-ago comment someone made on a recently-redesigned website:

"I once was involved with a girl whose family considered it bad manners to not only not pick up the check but to not fight over the check. One evening ended with her mother handing her money to throw into the window of her aunt’s moving vehicle. This is a Chinese custom. Be advised."

heroofthebeach (#2,280)

I saw this happen once. A Chinese woman was literally beating off her elderly mother and holding her down while she waved the check in the air with her card until a waiter swooped in and took it. They made up when they realized that my dad and I thought this was hilarious and joined forces in hating us.

forrealz (#1,530)

Oh! I'm a… gay… man… this explains so much!

Dave Chen (#8,973)

That's exactly how my Taiwanese relatives (parents/aunts/uncles) all do it. Everyone fights for the check. But if you paid more recently, you fight a little less hard and let the other relative win the check.

Us in the younger generation are more likely to just split the check, because we realize fighting for the check is just silly. Sometimes me and my cousins play credit card roulette. Stick all the cards in a pile and let the wait-person pick one.

@Dave Chen: I can assure you, this is also how all my Irish and French relatives do it. And the subtle "fighting a little less hard" play is both totally accurate and a legitimately effective bulwark of familial harmony.

ericdeamer (#945)

This is how everyone besides Americans do it, as I say above.

Tulletilsynet (#333)

Whoa back up there, "everyone besides Americans" does not compute. This is not the Nordic way. A Swede is not going to ruin his health racing people to grab the check first. A Dane, maybe, will buy you a round for not being a Swede. But the dinner check? This is a fight you can win.

Graydon Gordian (#3,206)

I was gonna chime in yesterday to say this is basically how my boys back home in Texas and I split checks, whether or not there are ladies present. (Although the phrase, "dude, I got this," gets used far more often.) It's my preferred system: Everyone is generous and relaxed, and eventually it all evens out.

iplaudius (#1,066)


I do this! As a (broke) straight female who loves to go out to eat, this is my exact m.o., and yet my friends are slow to get with the program. Sorry, inviting me to your place for overcooked pasta and bad wine is sweet but missing the point. It's about the indulgence of eating OUT (which goes to my head which is why I think I can be extravagant and pay for others. I'm an idiot.)

Charlie (#4,250)

"so sisters, please, I love you but don't even roll up on me to disagree, you know that I am right when I say that Cassandra just had the tabouleh salad"


Thomassays (#10,355)

This is exactly what tends to happen when straight English people split a bill although without the hugs at the end.
I've seen people shoving each other out of the way to hand their card over to the waiter.

Tulletilsynet (#333)

The moment of palming the credit card. The strategic placement of the plastic in a more accessible pocket. The holding of the pen in readiness.

superdave (#8,972)

The trick I've figured out, if you really want to win the check, is to give the waiter your credit card right at the beginning, before anyone has even ordered. Don't give anyone else the chance to pay the bill.

BadUncle (#153)

Oh, you fatties with your need for food.

I'll be at the bar. Processing nutrients from alcohol.

Pop Socket (#187)

This is a system worth switching teams for.

roboloki (#1,724)

*call me
(by "me" i mean choire)

MikeBarthel (#1,884)

Is that because you childless gays all have more disposable income than we straights?

Tyler Coates (#451)

We have dogs to care for, Mike. Adorable puggles and French bulldogs with black girl names!

MikeBarthel (#1,884)

But then you gays are all "you don't have to buy all those video games and power tools and tickets to the sporting events" and "so by asking you to pay your share I am taking food out of the mouths of your imaginary children" and I have to huffily button up my striped shirt and man-walk right out of that lovely bistro.

Tyler Coates (#451)

Look, if you expect me to come to your dinner parties and entertain the straight couples with my Grindr hook-up stories, you're at least going to play by my rules when we meet for brunch on Saturday afternoons.

katiechasm (#163)

You've activated the Joe Clark bat signal.

joeclark (#651)

Surely raccoon signal? They’re everywhere here.

BoHan (#29)

But throw one straight person in and the whole system goes kablooey. It's like putting Estonia in the Euro Zone.

Rod T (#33)

"How art fags have a potluck and still go to sleep hungry"

HiredGoons (#603)


SquarePeg (#1,098)

Shouldn't this have a "I'm Sorry Jolie Please Come Back" tag?

fashion socks (#10,022)

gaysplaining makes everything sound better.

Tulletilsynet (#333)

Why is no one angry about something?

scroll_lock (#4,122)

Is it International anything day? Or maybe a morartorium on mathshaming's been called.

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

Thank you. This comment explains perfectly why I will comment incessantly until I establish a plan and deadline for my dream / quit my job.

HiredGoons (#603)

Post-dinner cocktails can also be used as currency.

"Always." Can always be used as currency.

La Cieca (#1,110)

This is all about the Y chromosome.

MichelleDean (#7,041)

In which Choire knows how to be actually funny.

Ribs (#2,690)

His other pastime is pleading ignorance of how to do this.

KarenUhOh (#19)

When are you free for dinner?

Kevin Knox (#4,475)

There's also the likelihood that someone at the table has had a mutually satisfying sexual experience with your waiter, resulting in a complimentary round of bellinis or caesars or whatever.

HiredGoons (#603)


Kevin Knox (#4,475)

I am all about service, and industry.

City_Dater (#2,500)

Further proof that adding straight men to virtually any social situation immediately makes it all about dull status posturing and sexual anxiety.

Until we get married and have kids, you mean.

JHenryWaugh (#212)

Every granddad ever.

eastcoasthrumph (#10,356)

You know, possibly it's because I'm a really terrible homosexual (despite my best jazz hands), but my gay friends and I just pay for our own shit. "Meatloaf and a beer, 18 total, ok, here's 23". And yes, that is my real order. Suck on my gym-hate.

k-rex (#2,909)

So they also learned to behave by watching old movies.

petejayhawk (#1,249)

Oh right, like I'm going to listen to a Gay who flunked out of his master's program at the Finishing School for Homosexualist Gentlemen.

Aatom (#74)

That is some of the best lesbian stereotyping I've ever seen. In lesser hands this post would have been terrible. In lesser hands, it was terrible.

Super Gogo (#10,361)

Choire wins….he didn't cap a or at in his title.

Bittersweet (#765)

"Exeunt gays. Everyone hugs repeatedly!" Lost stage directions from Two Gentlemen of Verona.

poisonville (#776)

I feel like the follow-up post to this may end with "Exeunt, pursued by bear"

heroofthebeach (#2,280)

I learned a smooth move from my dad for these situations where you let the other person put out their card for the waiter and then you casually drop a cocktail napkin over their card so they don't know where it is when the waiter actually comes by.

We straights could do with more cloak and daggering when it comes to stealing the bill.

My boyfriend's dad has been known to call a restaurant in advance and arrange to have the bill put on his card before he's even arrived! NINJA! And he is neither asian nor gay.

osori (#10,161)

Paying without a fight, nay, having ever even been seen, is the art of every loving and courteous ninja. You go to the bathroom either right as you enter, as people are getting settled in, or right after you order, give your card to the wait staff, et voila.

mishaps (#5,779)

Once, when my mom offered to split a dinner check with me, I just had a pretend bout of aphasia. "I hear you, there are words in order… but I don't understand what they mean!" Then I forced my credit card on the waiter.

If I'm a gay man, I'm REALLY not getting out enough.

DoctorDisaster (#1,970)


carpetblogger (#306)

Today on the Awl: GAYS! WEATHER! something something sports something rap BBQ something rap something rap.

It started promisingly….

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

On many websites, a post with 200 comments is just getting started.

We are all welcome to read those websites.

Michael Ducker (#9,785)

Tonight I had a date with a handsome man at a well to do Seattle restaurant.

I offered to take the check.

He offered.

I insisted.

He insisted.

We smiled. I asked if he had by chance read the awl yesterday. He replied yes.

We split the bill.

Al Silverstein (#10,441)

That sounds more like my grandmother and my old lady friends than a group of guys. Gays just split the check evenly and then they're on their way.

Wow, you must have some sugar-daddy friends because when I go out to eat, we all pay for what we each got… and I'm 32.

does this mean i'm gay???

fyrepixie (#233,754)

I'm sorry but I have to disagree. Every single gay boy I know might be cool enough to cover a broke friend every now and then, but they will all sit there with the bill and divide how much each person owes to the exact cent. Every time my girlfriend and I go out with more than two of our boys, it takes forever and there are a dozen credit cards each with a note as to how much to charge. It's ridiculous.

Brunhilde (#1,225)

@fyrepixie "To be fair, I'm really talking about the gay men."

Give those boys a decade and they'll come around. Or maybe things will be different when they grow up! Who knows?

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