01 Dec, 2011
Splitting the bill
Posted by: peter in: Miscellaneous / Insane
Let’s go out to dinner. Let’s have Christmas lunch. Party of ten. Table of six. I’m not drinking. I only had two glasses of wine, everyone else polished off a bottle.
Back in the good old days – were you there? I’m struggling to remember them – people went out to dinner and split the bill. I always winced when a friend of mine, an extremely lovely person who never touches a drop, got stung for other people’s wine guzzling. I once raised the matter, but being the polite guy that he is, he quietly slapped it down (you won’t be surprised to hear that the man in question was a struggling postgrad student at the time: why is that people without money tend to be more generous?)
Another friend went out to dinner with her siblings, who have a lot of money and drink a lot, and decided to stay off the wine and skip the starter and dessert. She found herself paying an extra €60 when the consensus was to split the bill. It stuck in her craw; on successive outings, she insisted on going Dutch, despite feeling she was being labelled a cheapskate.
I thought those days had ended, and people were more inclined to go Dutch now. At a lovely lunch for nine adults and four kids in The Exchequer, we all paid for what we had eaten or drunk ourselves. Yes, it was a painfully fidgety process, but it was the fairest thing to do.
But at a recent dinner, the decision was to split the bill across a large party, many of whom had only met for the first time that evening. In this instance, everyone had more or less the same, and someone else paid for part of my meal. I had some reservations about this, but the madness of crowds swept my murmurings away.
When you’re with friends, it’s a bit easier to speak up in favour of going Dutch, but a little bit more socially awkward if you’re with colleagues or new acquaintances.
Do you go Dutch, or do you split the bill? And have you ever been stung for someone else’s bottle of wine?