Incinerating Chivalry

The First Essential Scary Truth

One of the first things a bartender learns to recognize is the dreaded first date.  The awkward pauses and weird body language give it away to the average pub voyeur but the barman/maid learns to read the other signs; the initial handshake instead of hug and cheek kiss and lack of touching during the strained conversation are the dead giveaways.  Of course, there is also the quick shot the guy will generally throw back both before the meeting and when she goes to the bathroom to text her BFF.

Surprisingly, most first dates I’ve seen are successful – success in this case defined as both parties have a good time and agree to see each other again.  The few first dates I’ve seen fail have one thing in common: economic considerations i.e. who pays.  In the not so distant past, the man paid for everything without question. These days, proper etiquette in the confused dating scene dictates the check should be split.  ‘Modern’ chivalry, however, (not to mention taste and breeding) dictate the man should offer to pay and if his date says no, let’s split the check then graciously concede the point or propose she get the next round at the place.

‘Modern’ chivalry, gentlemanly behavior and dressing like an adult seem to be lost on the male members of Generation Y.

I was having a couple of whiskey’s at the infamous HMS Bounty, taking notes on a new project when a young 23 year old couple came up to the service well to order drinks.  She was an attractive brunette, dressed to impress in a tiny black dress, off white sweater and a pair of heels that brought her almost to her date’s 5’10” eye level.  He had on ripped jeans, what appeared to be a 1970’s vintage wrinkled oxford shirt and 4 days worth of facial stubble.  He literally shoved two women out of the way so they could belly up to the bar.  He asked his date what she wanted to drink and tried to get the barmaid’s attention by calling her ‘sweetie.’

Her body language, arms crossed Mona Lisa smile, led me to believe this was not only a first date but she was on the fence as to whether she should run from this boorish excuse of a boy she let take her out on a Friday night.  When the glass of white wine and Captain and Coke were delivered, the brunette handed her card over to pay for the round.  Her date was flustered when he saw her sign the bill.

“You’re paying,” he asked.  “How rude.”

Two minutes later she had to go to the bathroom and was still there when I left an hour later.  Her date was in a corner booth with some other guy.  “Jesus, she’s been in there a while,” he commented.  “I wonder which of her girlfriends she texting.”

Thus we can ascertain the concept of chivalry appears lost on this (and many other) Generation Y boy.  As I walked home, I flashed on an event when I was four or five years old.  Mother picked Rebecca Gleason and I up from pre-school.  I opened the door and jumped inside.  Mom made me get out, close the door, re-open the door and offer Rebecca a seat with an exaggerated wave of my hand.  “Trust me, this is a lesson you’ll want to remember when you start asking girls out,” she said.

Well-played Mother.  Well played.

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