Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Would You Like a Drink?

We all know that it's customary for a gentleman to offer to refill a lady's drink at a social gathering. This is just The Way It Is. And, of course, most of us girls expect this to be the case. Imagine my surprise, when out with my mom this weekend, the fellow we were talking to told us he couldn't understand why he should have to buy girls drinks, and regaled us with a tale of a time he was dancing with a girl, left her to go buy himself a drink, and returned--much to her chagrin. He couldn't understand why she got upset. My mom launched into a spiel, telling him that:
1) Women still, even in this day and age, make about 70 cents to every dollar a man makes
2) It's the "price of admission"--much like one would pay to go to the Met or the MOMA, the price of a drink gains you the attentions of a pretty girl for that period of time
3) It's only polite--good manners, much like holding a door open or saying "excuse me" when you sneeze
The fellow still couldn't understand this. He thought that as a decently good-looking, relatively charming guy, he had enough to offer without having to "bribe" girls with drinks. But the turning point came when I piped up and told him that, if I was talking to a guy, and he went to the bar alone and didn't offer me a drink I would think that was not only rude (I'll do that for my girlfriends--it's rude to go to a bar without offering to grab stuff for other people) but I would take his behavior as a clear signal that he was Not Interested--and extricate myself from the conversation. "Even if on our first date I took her out to a fancy place and spent a lot of money?" he argued.
"You wouldn't get a first date--I wouldn't give you my number, because I'd stop talking to you when that happened."

He seemed shocked. Clearly the thought that not buying a girl a drink was an indication of non-interest had never occurred to him. When saying goodbye to him a few hours later, he insisted that "next time I see you, I promise I'll buy all the drinks"--I nodded okay, but he never asked for my contact info--a pretty empty promise if you ask me.

The same night, after my mom went home, Madeline and I went to another bar, where we know the bartender, hoping to get free drinks. Unfortunately the bartender we know was arrested(!) for serving a minor, so that plan was a bust. However, I started flirting with a cute group of boys. One in particular was talking to me for about an hour--but then abruptly stopped and became involved in a tete-a-tete with one of his friends. Hrm. Okay. Clear signal.

As I started to extricate myself from their group, his pal offered me a drink. Okay, I said--but when the drinks came, I offered to pay for mine. The guy refused. Well, now I was somewhat beholden to stick around, so I began talking to this fellow--and we had a pretty good chat. We finished our drinks, and he offered to buy me another one, and, since Madeline was nowhere to be found at this point, I accepted. Soon thereafter, the guys agreed that it was time for them to go. My fellow said goodbye to me, saying "See you later." He was a bit on the dorky side, but cute, and I wanted to give him a signal that an advance would be received positively, so I laughed and said, flirtatiously, "I'm not sure how...." He got the clue. He said--"Oh, okay, well," and his friend (the one I was flirting with originally) pulled him away, saying "we have to go..."

I think my mouth literally dropped open. I was cockblocked--and I'm not even a guy. After the whole conversation earlier about drinks as an indication of interest, I had taken this fellow's plying me with alcohol as a signal to stick around. Guess not--or his friend was too forceful. But, hey, at least the guy saved me 15 bucks... ;)


At 11/23/2005 12:57 AM, Blogger Damn It Anyway said...

Ahh my friend, you know how I like to disagree with you.

One point:
"2) It's the "price of admission"--much like one would pay to go to the Met or the MOMA, the price of a drink gains you the attentions of a pretty girl for that period of time"

It's NOT like MOMA or the Met. If you pay to go to MOMA you konw what you're going to get. Buying a woman a drink only guarantees that you'll be out the price of a drink. I've paid for drinks before and all I got was a "thank you" and a walk off.

Hmmm sounds like a tshirt.

At 11/23/2005 1:21 AM, Blogger -- said...

Well, I can't speak for the actions of other women. But for me, I won't accept a drink from someone I'm not willing to talk to for the time it takes me to finish the drink. Girls who say thanks and walk away are super rude--and ruin things for the rest of us. But this guy wasn't arguing that women run away--he was arguing the principle of the thing.

At 11/23/2005 2:52 AM, Blogger ThreeCharlie said...

It's just the law of the bar:
If you're out with your girls or your boys whoever walks up to the bar first has to make the obligatory offer of buying a round of drinks. Thus begins the process of going rounds with your friends until the first person runs out of money then the process of rounds ends.
If you meet a hottie the conversation entrance fee is a drink. However, there are no guarantees. If the hottie excepts then walks then you know you lost the roll of the dice on that one and you must move on to the next one.
If you can't afford to play the bar game then don't go to the bar or don't try to play by your own rules.
That's fucked up that that dude cockblocked you. He was probably jealous of his buddy and pissed at you. At least you got some free booze for your troubles though :o).

At 11/23/2005 4:53 AM, Blogger Vincent said...

There is an exception to this rule. If you don't drink (like me), anyone and everyone seems eager to buy you drinks, even when you don't want another half-pint of orange juice. It seems that drinkers feel guilty if there's someone in their midst without a glass in their hand.

At 11/23/2005 9:15 AM, Blogger Kim said...

i feel like guys have it so easy nowadays. i was reading this article the other day about how guys are getting lazier and lazier in terms of dating these days, putting in minimal effort. i think this is an example. the excuse that they've been burned before is pathetic. how many times have us girls been burned. that's the chance you take. i hope you can weed through the lazy, cheap, insecure and/or inpolite a-holes, and find yourself a stand up guy.

At 11/23/2005 9:39 AM, Blogger ThreeCharlie said...

How do guys have it easy? And what did the article say about us being cheap and lazy?

At 11/23/2005 1:22 PM, Blogger ducky said...

Every state is like a seperate country, which means they all have there own customs with regards to dating. I am sure it is quite normal in some areas to not have to subscribe to this particular gender role, as well as a multitude of others.

Having said that, I personally think if you are getting a drink it is a fair question to ask a female of the species. However, I know a multitude of women who would be mortified if someone tried to put them into an olde time sensibility, which could be construed as a prostitution of their time. Feminism can be a dual edged sword.

At 11/23/2005 11:12 PM, Blogger the deal said...

I say: find a way to get the girl to buy you a drink...then you know the flirting is legit. Then, you can reciprocate on the next round.

At 11/24/2005 4:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps one of the reasons you have so much trouble finding a guy you like is that you select for the ones that have twisted, antiquated views of what it means to respect a woman.

Further, your mother's points 1 and 3 fail to convince. First of all, it is a misconception that woman earn less money compared to men. When they are doing comparable work, women earn *exactly the same amount* as men do.

As to the third point, if it were simple politeness, women would be buying men as many drinks as often as they receive. To imply otherwise is hideously sexist.

Finally, the second point referring to the "price of admission" may well be true with some women. In this case the blame does fall on the guy. It's his fault for having such bad taste in women.

Cheerfully yours,

At 11/24/2005 5:02 AM, Blogger -- said...


I'm sorry, but your facts on women's vs. men's earnings are incorrect--as were my mother's. Even when accounting for occupation, industry, and tenure, women make 80 cents to the dollar.

And yes, women do not purchase as many drinks as men at bars. And that may even be, as you say, "hideously sexist." But as much as we like to believe that things are equal between the sexes, they are very much not (see point #1 above, or the slut/playboy paradigm, or the right-to-lifers trying to control women's reproductive rights--men's reproductive rights are hardly even thought of).

Yet even still, if I'm out with a group of friends, men AND women, we trade rounds of drinks--the women are responsible for just as many rounds as the men. And when I was dating MacB, I was making nearly double what he was (before I lost my job) and I bought him 2 rounds for every 1 he purchased. Perhaps the rule should be whoever is making more money should buy the drinks? And honestly, I'm perfectly okay with that.

Despite all this, I still would prefer to find myself with a fellow that can hold open doors and practice the gentlemanly arts with the best of them. Not all women feel this way, I know, but I do. Po-tay-to/Po-tot-o. That's just my preference. And many men LIKE to be gentlemanly (obviously you're not one of them). That's not BAD taste--that's just taste.

No one is forcing you to buy drinks for girls--nor was anyone forcing the fellow my mother and I ran into to. He just couldn't understand WHY many women feel this way--and why he was striking out because of this. We were trying to give him an explanation. But if you're doing just fine NOT buying girls drinks, then why change anything? Perhaps you're an underwear model, and the girls flock to you? If that's the case, well, than, refuse to buy away. But don't be surprised when I take that to mean you're not interested and walk away. But my loss, right?

At 11/24/2005 7:28 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

I think it's wise to be wary depending on the situation. One time I met my friend for drinks and arrived five minutes late. A creepy bore had already bought her a drink and wouldn't leave us alone after that. On the other hand, in my single days I remember one instance where a guy bought me a drink and then I offered to buy him one and his face fell--I guess he thought it meant I wasn't interested.

Before I met my current boyfriend, I went on some weird internet dates. One guy bought a round or two and then said, "Isn't it your turn now?" Needless to say, he wasn't interested. On the other hand, trying to do the Rules thing and let guys buy all the drinks is a little unfair if they're really poor, but I remember doing it a lot anyway. Yes, it's a double edged sword, but the guy you mentioned sounds very arrogant.

At 11/24/2005 12:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a very interesting report, and one you might profit from reading. To wit, the report is far less conclusive in its results than you (and the webpage you link to) present it as being. They strongly emphasize the limitations of their study, and go on to suggest additional factors that likely play a role, but which they were unable to measure. Specifically, they raise the point that women will often choose to forego advancement and higher-paying jobs in order to have a more flexible job, in order to spend more time on family.

This falls into my position that women are paid less because they do not do the same work as men. They don't do the same work because they *choose* not to. The report also raises the possibility of discrimination, and puts the two possibilities on roughly equal footing, as it isn't possible to test for those things. So, the data doesn't conclude one way or the other whether the 20% difference is the result of social injustice, or whether it's the result of the choices that women make. I'm willing to put this point aside.

Moving on, you cite the fact that things aren't yet equal between the sexes. However, I can't see how you can use that as a justification for perpetuating those differences. If you would object to sexism being used against you (such as in the workplace), it's hypocritical to accept, and even demand, that it be used in your favor in another context.

Continuing on to your next paragraph, we were speaking specifically of courtship, and buying habits while among friends don't apply to that.

You're correct in saying that I'm no gentleman (though I'm inevitably called one from time to time). And you certainly are welcome to your own preferences when it comes to dating. However, as I implied in my first post, the reason you are having trouble finding a guy you like may be that your preferences are selecting for superficial traits that do not correspond to a quality human being.

I'm a bit too skinny to be an underwear model. It fortunately doesn't seem to be necessary. But then, I also don't invest my time trying to meet women in bars. It may just be that I am incredibly fortunate, in that the women I'm attracted to seem to be attracted to me, and that others need to have these weird rules and rituals in order to get by. It just seems like you're damning yourself to forever being stuck with other people who buy into all that foolishness, and what's more, damning yourself to always being the person who is pursued, rather than the pursuer.


At 11/24/2005 5:16 PM, Blogger elvira black said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 11/24/2005 9:57 PM, Blogger Anonymous City Girl said...

1) Women still, even in this day and age, make about 70 cents to every dollar a man makes

Keep in mind that is the whole country averaged... And on the whole most higher risk (thus higher paying) jobs are by choice (of both men and women) filled by men.

2) It's the "price of admission"--much like one would pay to go to the Met or the MOMA, the price of a drink gains you the attentions of a pretty girl for that period of time

Calling buying a woman a drink "the price of admission" is just plain offence. I am not an amusement park...

At 11/24/2005 11:09 PM, Blogger -- said...


Regardless of WHY women make less than men (and yes, there are many theories), the fact remains that they do, which is the point my mom was trying to make. However, women taking more flexible jobs to be moms are not generally accepting drinks from men in bars. I can state, from my own work experience, that despite getting a ton of raises and promotions in my few years in the publishing industry, I was making less than men with the same amount of tenure at the same level. My mom's point was not concerned with whys, just the facts of the matter. We could argue whys all night and still get nowhere.

I'm not sure how I'm "demanding" anything from anyone. I don't walk into bars and ask men to buy me drinks--nor do I expect them to. I just think (in my opinion) it shows a little bit of class when anyone offers to buy another a drink--and, if it's a guy, it gives me the signal that they're interested. A ritual, yes, but a generally understood and accepted one.

You seem to be under the impression that I will only date men who pay for my drinks and dinners. This is not the case. MacB and I split everything--and many times I paid for more rounds than he did. On our last date with Karaoke Boy I paid for myself as well. It was unexpected, but not going to keep me from dating him, till he stopped returning my emails.

No, buying habits among friends do not apply to courtship--but they do, again, show manners and generosity. But buying drinks for MacB was certainly part of the courting ritual--and I happily complied, as I was making far more money than him.

I'm not sure how class and generosity are "superficial traits that do not correspond to a quality human being." Good manners and a generous spirit are qualities I would highly prize in a mate.

I'm glad you're so fortunate that the women you're attracted to seem to be attracted to you--but many of us are not so fortunate (the prolifiration of dating/single blogs online support this). And yes, not having your "good fortune" I do subscribe to dating rituals--but I'm not sure how being the "pursued" is being damned. I like being pursued, and the last 3 guys I had relationships with were happy to do so. But again, this is my preference--and you're free to have yours. But I don't really see how you can judge what is and is not working about my dating life only knowing the less-than-full story presented here.


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