**Note: This is about dining in restaurants, and not about pleasuring the fairer sex**
Why is eating out so hard? Why is it always built up to be this huge deal, when it really isn’t? I love eating out; I would eat out every single day if I could. Most of the time, the place doesn’t even matter! It’s just fun to go out and not worry about cooking and cleaning, and just enjoy your time with family, friends, or even yourself. So why is eating out so hard? Let’s breakdown everything one goes through trying to eat out properly. For the purpose of this example, consider a man and woman.
1. Picking a place
“Where do you want to go?” “I don’t care; where do you want to go?”
The age old battle between who cares less about where they want to go for dinner. At this point (thank goodness) you’ve already decided that A) you are both hungry, or at the very least “could eat” and B) you don’t feel like cooking something yourselves. Wonderful. So why is it so hard to pick somewhere? If one person REALLY doesn’t care, then the other person should be super excited! They get to go wherever they want! But, for some reason, your significant other doesn’t care either; why not just go to bed and sleep until you get a good idea?
“AHA” you say! Well, for this example, the woman “doesn’t care” where they eat – so the man suggests [VERY MANLY RESTAURANT] (like buffalo wild wings or Outback). This leads to the woman saying – “Ummm, no, not there.” Wait, what? But you just said you didn’t care, and asked me to make the decision! You can’t veto my decision that you didn’t care about anyway!
Are you already frustrated? Well, good thing we are still on point number one. If neither of you care where you go to eat, either the person driving just goes to a place, now forcing you to be there, or the person who brought up the idea of going out provides three options. Now, you have three places YOU would like to go, and your significant other has the spirit of “choice;” they feel like they made the decision, when really all three were your number one! Good? Great, moving on.
So you’ve arrived at your awesome location, and you’ve gotten a table (because you were too classy for the bar). Unless you are regulars at this establishment, you are more than likely unfamiliar with the menu. UH-OH, here comes The Waitress (or waiter, it’s just an example people). For some reason, you begin to panic, and your anxiety is building like the water behind a beaver’s dam. You look at your menu, open it up, scanning it back-to-front, front-to-back WHERE ARE THE DRINKS??? SHE’S HERE. You try not to make eye contact. Your partner across the table does the same. She kicks you under the table, signaling the need to man up and respond. You look at The Waitress who is expecting an answer. “Sorry, what?” you ask, trying to buy more time as you look back to the menu. “Would you like to start off with some drinks?” The Waitress says again. Of course you would like to start off with some drinks! What kind of animal does she think you are? But you have no idea what is even listed. There! In the middle of the table; the separate drink menu! So stupid to think it would be in the full menu! But The Waitress is here now, and you have no idea if she will ever come back again! You hurriedly grab for the drink menu but OH NO, your significant other has reached across first and snatched it away. You nervously smile at the waitress and do a fake laugh. “Honey, do you know what you want?” you ask your partner. The death glare shot back at you freezes whichever genitals you have left into a winter wonderland. You look back to The Waitress: “We probably need a few minutes.” Whew.
Here’s a helpful hint: Servers DO NOT CARE if you aren’t ready – as long as you tell them. You just sat down; of course you don’t know what you want yet unless you are one of those weird families who picks up a menu and plans their entire meal order before they’ve been seated. **Protip – don’t be that family** You should be taking a few seconds anyway to look over the menu, enjoy the atmosphere of the restaurant, and find something you will like. Don’t let a server rush you. Also, you are allowed to ask questions rather than hastily look for the drink menu. Want a coke? Just ask for a coke, you don’t need to look at the menu. That way when the server asks “Is Pepsi Ok?” you will be ready to tell them that “No, it is not.” Then, you look through the menu. Ask what’s on draft; ask what might be on special; ask them if they have a signature drink. Ask the server what THEIR favorite drink is. And even after all that, feel comfortable asking for some more time. To paraphrase the Terminator – they’ll be back.
ORDER. WHAT. YOU. WANT. I am sick of tired of hearing “Oh no! That’s what I was going to get!” This doesn’t matter AT ALL. YOU CAN STILL GET THAT THING.
Here are the only reasons you may not get that thing:
- There is literally only one of that thing remaining.
- You are ordering huge Italian dishes and it would be stupid to order more than one of anything and for some reason you just really love ordering things and also can’t anything you don’t specifically order yourself.
- The person you are with is a jerk who orders for you and refuses to order two of the same thing and never orders what you actually want.
If you see something on the menu and it sounds delicious to you, then order it. The waiter or waitress will not think less of you because someone already ordered a dish first. They won’t think you do things just because someone else is doing it. It won’t affect your social status in any way. JUST ORDER ANOTHER ONE.
Again, if you aren’t ready to order when the server is there, ask for more time! You don’t have to rush to pick something; they will come back. If you have been there thirty minutes and still haven’t decided what to order because you’ve been talking too much or playing on your phone, then it is your fault anyway! After you get your drinks, everyone should decide what they want to eat; then you are ready for whenever the server comes back. The story about how your boss said he needs someone to tickle his moustache hairs can wait ten minutes to review the menu options.
4. The bill
Ok, this is probably the hardest AND easiest part. There are many different scenarios for how this plays out:
A) Guy and girl on a first date – Guy pays
a. Girl offers to pay; guy should pay anyway
b. Girl demands to pay; split the bill (unless one of you really went overboard)
B) Guy/Guy or Girl/Girl first date – whoever initiated the date pays
a. Same scenario options above apply here
C) Friends (four or less) – split the bill, or ask for separate checks ahead of time
D) Friends who go out all the time – One person can pay the check, and someone else gets it next time
a. This one is tricky, since some friends are better at paying that others
b. Don’t be the person who says they don’t have cash so they can’t pay; everyone has a credit card these days
E) Group of 5 or more – you all do the math for your own food and tip yourselves.
a. This can be made easy by writing down all the totals and respective cards that the server will have to charge
Easy! Just print out the guide above and keep it in your wallet. Or, just use common sense. If any of the people you go out with can’t figure out the above with a handy wallet-sized guide, they probably aren’t smart enough to be spending your time on. Also, every time you get the check, and The Waitress says “Here is your bill,” it is so written that you must say “Bill! Bill! Bill! Bill!” in the style of the Bill Nye, The Science Guy theme song.
There. No more mess. If everyone follows these simple rules, eating out would be much less of chore. It would be enjoyable for you, your date, and the people working at the restaurant. Now go practice the art of eating out! And don’t forget to tell your friends.