Maybe it’s just that dining out isn’t my idea of a good time, but I really need an end to the expanding assumption that agreeing to do so means agreeing to share.
When I accept an invite to eat out, I’m not cuffing myself to my dinner or lunch or brunch companion(s). I’m simply saying sure, I’ll go to the restaurant, eat with you and enjoy each other’s company. Yet, once seated, I’m routinely asked to share.
“Let’s get some things to share.”
“Let’s get an appetizer to share.”
“We can split the check.”
No! Let’s not! The hell we can!
To friends, family, and colleagues — past, present, and future — I don’t want to be rude. In fact, assuming that we’ll each order what we’d personally like for ourselves and that we’ll pay for those things on our own is the polite thing to do. On the other hand, putting me in the uncomfortable position of potentially having to say, “No, I don’t want to split the raw ground beef you’ve just referred to as ‘steak tartare'”— well, that may require some self-reflecting on your part.
There is apparently some widely held belief that agreeing to dine out with others comes with the expectation that splitting different things is part of the fun— the experience. Someone tell me where exactly that is written.
You may certainly try a piece of my food. You may have a sip of my beer. (I don’t order “cocktails,” which are a scam.) That should be enough.
Sharing creates problems. We may not like the same things. I may want more than you. I may have a bigger appetite. What I order might be exponentially more expensive than what you order.
And then it’s considered tacky to acknowledge any one of these predicaments because — we’ve gone out, and this is supposed to be fun, and why are you ruining a good time, you wet blanket!
I’m sorry, but… no!
I want the South African lobster tail, and you want the little Ethiopian paste with crackers. I’m having an IPA, and you’re fine with water. Do you really want to split the check? Because I’m sure as hell not splitting the lobster. Enjoy the water and smeared bread, though!
The whole concept of shared dining is straight out of The Communist Manifesto. From each according to his appetite, to each according to, “We’ll split the check down the middle!”
Bye. Not interested. I’m an American, thanks.
Get whatever you want. I’ll get what I want. No, you won’t “just order for the table.” No, I don’t “just wanna split it.” I’m not even that hungry. Why would I volunteer to subsidize your meal? Worse, why would you assume that I should?
Maybe you like sampling different things. That’s okay. But what I want on the menu is a commitment. Don’t make your lack thereof my problem.
We’ll just take the check. Separate.