The new semester officially kicks off today, and things have been a little crazy with spring training for staff and residents returning and sorority recruitment for my female residents. That said, I haven’t really had time to sit down and come up with a new post, so I’m stealing. This is a guest post from a guest post – Restaurant Refugee wrote this post for Kris on Not Yet a Girl, Not Yet a Wino and I thought the advice was spot on. As a former door man, host, bartender, and server, everyone should read this post about appropriate behavior on a date.
1. Go to a bar
2. Order a beer
3. Take one sip
4. Understand that the collective knowledge of men about women couldn’t fill the rest of the glass
While I am a man and therefore my knowledge is commensurate with the points above, I am the Restaurant Refugee and have seen more than my fair share of restaurant dates excellent, tragic and all variety between. Gents, I offer you the limited benefits that my observations might provide.
Know that because you have a Y chromosome you will get distracted by French fries, bright lights and shiny things. It is important that you reduce the appearance of potential distractions in your field of view. Get over your fear of a mob hit and sit with your back to the room. Besides being the generally courteous thing to do, it may also help you with your naturally wandering eye.
Like a job, you’re on time if you are early; you’re late if you’re on time. Ten minutes early gives you enough time to familiarize yourself with the place – know the location of the wash closets, the emergency exits just in case your date necessitates a swift escape (just kidding – mostly,) make friends with whomever is staffing the host stand. Let your host know that you are on a date, smile a bit, DO NOT ASK FOR A NICE TABLE – that usually inducts you into the fraternity of assholes with whom s/he deals all night. An easy smile, proper salutation, and the occasional please and thank you will almost always ensure a better table than a direct request. Should you get a great table, a tip to the host is in order. This is tricky in restaurants where the host is also a manager – most common in smaller restaurants – as it is rude to tip a manager anything less than enough to buy a couple drinks after their shift. If you are certain that the host is only the host, then a $5 tip is sufficient. If you believe that the host is also a manager, a tip is only appropriate if above and beyond service is provided in addition to the great table in which case a palmed twenty is the right way to go.
Do not fake wine knowledge – asking for assistance is a sign of strength not weakness. If the wine list is offered to you, ask your date if she would like to see it as well. Do not attempt a pronunciation with which you are unfamiliar. Read this if you want some more detail about ordering wine in a restaurant.
Under no circumstances should you do anything that could be perceived as flirting with the waiter, bartender, host or anyone who has the same chromosomal values as your date. Understand that your date mostly likely has a more sensitive flirt-o-meter than you.
Do say thank you to the bussers – the people who pour your water, bring your bread, clear your plates, etc. – besides being good for your karma as these are generally the hardest working/least paid people in the restaurant – this will mark you as a stand-up guy.
Do have an idea of where to go when dinner is finished – two ideas are even better. A swank lounge for quiet conversation and a dive bar where you can throw back some beer and darts are both great post-dinner destinations. Also of great note is going to a place just for dessert. Though you have all of these plans in your back pocket, do not cleave to them blindly. A date is a conversational dance best done in a semi-improvisational style.
Knowledge of the fact that the same words with the same delivery can be alternately charming and repulsive depending upon your date’s level of interest and attraction is important. If your date likes you, then ordering for her – after consulting with her – can be a great thing though still not advised unless it is a maneuver with which you are practiced. If her feelings are tepid or worse, then it is an affectation of bygone era.
If your date was arranged with the assistance of the interwebs, saying her name as a declarative rather than a question is a strong precursor to a good evening.
Contrary to popular belief, sharing dishes is not a marker of excessive frugality which might convey to your server the potential for an equally frugal tip. Sharing an appetizer or two is a good thing – food is sensual when done properly and sharing it can be great foreplay.
Unless your service is awful, do tip at least 20%. 9 out of 10 dates will try to sneak a look at the bill and take note of your tip. The 10th date didn’t have an opportunity because you smartly settled the tab while s/he was freshening in the restroom.
I don’t care how fabulously your date is going do not be the last table in a restaurant. Movie scenes paint a romantic picture of a couple lingering in an otherwise empty restaurant gazing into each other’s love struck eyes – that’s unadulterated bullshit. Every member of the staff of that restaurant has lives they’re all eager to resume and you are the speed bump in that process. The bad karma of impeding their path to shots of Grand Marnier at the bar next door is not worth it.
Do have story about why you selected this restaurant – stories make food taste better. However, in the vain of “do as I say, not as I do,” do not be pretentious about your story.
I just had a conversation with the three women to the left of my perch at the bar where I wrote this. Besides their wholesale agreement to all of the aforementioned points, they had the following helpful additions:
* If your date chose the restaurant, refrain from being hyper-critical as it is a criticism not just of the restaurant but of her, and her judgment.
* Do offer to share whatever is on your plate.
* Do say thank you to everyone who serves you – this is a repeat but it bears repeating
* Do not push anything – a drink, dessert, a nightcap, a dish of which you are particularly fond whatever.
* Don’t be a tool.
* Do not let her pay any part of the check (on the first couple of dates.)
* Do notice if she at least offers to pay the check.
* Assuming that any level of PDA is appropriate, do keep it to a minimum [ed. note – the staff will mock you for excessive PDA.]
* Unless your job involves national security, you’re a doctor on call, or you have a sick child at home (in which case what the hell are you doing on a date?) for the love of bacon and all things holy, do not answer your phone.