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For years, I’ve had a laugh every time I think of an early date I went on, in the ninth grade, with a classmate, more of a training experience than anything else.We were New York City kids; the courtship habits of jaded grownups as seen on “Seinfeld” and “Sex and the City” melded in our minds with the great texts of fresh suburban teen love—“Grease,” “Sixteen Candles,” “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”—to serve as source material for how romance was supposed to work.Recall one of the genre’s preëminent cautionary tales, the 2014 piece that announced the return of the monocle as a men’s fashion item but failed to find more than one dude who would actually cop to wearing one, which is still one more monocle-wearing dude than I’ve ever seen. On the one hand, voluntarily paying for your date’s three-dollar drink, as one of the men in question did, only to demand reimbursement the next day is an act of pure pettiness.
Each guy paid for his date’s dinner or drinks, as guys who go out with women are generally expected to do.
Joyriding with a crush in a convertible seemed highly preferable to sitting uncomfortably across a table from a boy I had known since kindergarten, making stale small talk in imitation of neurotic singles in their thirties, but, even if we had been of age, neither of us would have known how to drive.
The stiltedness of the situation peaked when, at the end of the meal, my classmate tried to pay for both of us, covering the bill with his hand like an amateur magician, as if to render it invisible.
that suggested that one of the institution’s foremost traditions might be undergoing some change.
“Cheap Bros Have Found a New Way to Get Out of Paying for Dates,” the headline read.