Why Don't Men Pick Up the Check in This Town?

Dear Uptight Seattleite,

I'm a fortysomething divorced gal trying to figure out what's happened to dating in this town. Granted, I've been out of circulation for about 20 years, and feel a bit like Rumpelstiltskin waking up from a long sleep, but I still think if a man asks me out, especially if he's been persistent, HE should pay. My East Coast brother advises me that, while a man appreciates when the woman goes for The Reach (i.e., reaching for the bill or her purse), he should still pay. But when I go for The Reach in this neck of the woods, the men let me just keep on reaching. Can you please help dispel the myth that women always want to pay?Pining for Chivalry

Dear Pining,

I'm not exactly sure what you're getting at. You want me to pay? But both of us just ate a nearly equal dollar amount of food. Well, actually, and not that I was adding it up or anything, you did have the clams and pasta dish, which I am pretty sure was around $18, and I had the mushroom ravioli, which was only $15. It was quite filling for the price, especially with all that bread they kept bringing. I don't recall who had more bread, though I definitely didn't have more than four pieces total, and there were about seven pieces in each basket. It doesn't matter anyway because the bread's free. Then there was the wine, which you picked out. I probably wouldn't have paid $27 for any Oregon pinot, much less that one. Despite all the hype , it's way too rainy there to produce any grapes with real character. So, to summarize my position, I don't see why I should pay the entire bill.

You are perhaps hoping I will rise, like an eagle from a dark valley, toward a perspective that encompasses not only myself but at least one other human being. OK, fair enough. But I first want to drop a quick little refresher course on you with regard to folk tales. I think it was actually Rip Van Winkle who slept for 20 years, not Rumpelstiltskin. That's OK, though! I may have my children's tales straight, but I mix up Stendhal and Racine all the time. I actually have to look them up! Totally embarrassing, right? The larger point here is I don't blame you for any limitations in your way of seeing things. We're all doing the best we can.

To prove there are no hard feelings, I'll offer the following advice in exchange for you paying your part of the bill. The Reach must be executed with a swift, kung fu–ian sincerity. Otherwise, you'll fumble all the way to actually paying, and feel silly besides. I've had quite a bit of luck with my own warriorlike commitment to The Reach, though the look on your face suggests that I'm not going to be particularly lucky tonight.

Dear Uptight Seattleite,

I take my boyfriend to this party where I know the hostess and he knows no one. Hostess greets us in a cursory way, then abandons us to her charming friends. One describes himself as "an architect for Starbucks," which sounds to me like being an architect for Pizza Hut. But I'm no snob, so I gamely try to engage him on the topic of chain-store architecture. He mutters a few three-word answers before wandering off toward a clump of people he already knows. Isn't meeting new people supposed to be part of the fun of a party?Party Girl

Dear Party Girl,

I know some people think we don't cotton to strangers here, but that's not the case. We cotton on a regular basis. It's just that Seattle is Comfy Land. Comfy clothes and comfy shoes, walking down the street in a comfy ol' daze. A party is no different. It's a sauna of familiarity. A place where rock climbers congregate with rock climbers, populist poets with populist poets, and Ruby developers with Ruby developers. It's not that we can't see you out there, smiling tentatively through the sauna-door window. It's just that the effort involved in opening that door is such a daunting incline through the luxuriously billowing cloud of our indolence. But you know, if I may be allowed to speak frankly, I don't see what's keeping all you sharp-tongued outsiders from throwing your own party.

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