I don’t know why I clicked on this story at Slate today. The image came to my mind of a call girl, sitting against a bar, looking for a man who might be in need of some company.
I personally have never sat at the bar on a date with someone, but it’s been a long time since I went on a date, so what the hell do I know?
True Story: my first “date” with Mr. JB (as in he called me up and asked me if I wanted to have dinner with him) took place in the men’s washroom of our student residence.
We lived in a four story dormitory and the Graduate Students (who tended to be older than the undergrads) were all housed on the top floor. The whippersnappers who lived beneath us dubbed the fourth floor “The Geriatric Ward” and were constantly putting up signs admonishing others to be quiet because Elderly People Sleeping.
When you’re eighteen, twenty-five seems like a lifetime away! The little jerks.
Mr. JB has a hidden talent for hair cutting, and he was running a barbershop in the men’s room, taking his payment in the form of liquid assets, AKA beer. It was a price a lot of our fellow students were prepared to pay. He had intended for us to go to the campus bar and have natchos or cheeseburgers or something else equally elegant, but his customers kept showing up and when he had to choose between taking me to a proper sit-down eatery and forgoing beer, well, that was a no-brainer.
Someone was doing a McDonald’s run and popped their head in to see if we wanted anything, and that ended up being our dinner. I sat on the counter in the men’s washroom with my feet in the sink, eating a Quarter Pounder and watching Mr. JB cut hair and collect beer.
I’m not sure the last guy got the best haircut of his life, but it sure was cheap!
Okay, let’s jump into this Slate slime! It’s a short article, but packed with so much vacuous cuntiness that I can’t resist. The lovely Katy Waldman in italics.
Last week, an Atlantic Wire piece explained all about the beauty of eating at the bar when you’re alone. Not having to stare at the empty seat across from you reduces existential angst, it said. You enjoy better access to drinks and conversation via the bartender. You don’t feel rushed, or guilty for taking up an entire table. All true, all pretty obvious. The more difficult claim—one the writer breezed right by—is that there is an equivalent beauty to eating at the bar when you’re on a date.
“It’s less depressing eating alone at the bar. When you’re eating alone at a table with only an empty chair to look at, you have visual proof of how lonely and cold this world is. The bar gives you a brief distraction from this depressing reality,”
How cold and lonely this world is. Or how unlikeable and friendless you are? I could see if you just moved to town, you might experience a bit of loneliness, but if you begin with the assumption that you are not entitled to companionship in this world, and that in order to be appealing to other people, you need to consider their needs and likes and wants, that whole “no one to share a meal with” problem should disappear.
We’ll keep that sense of entitlement firmly in mind.
The greatness of this seating arrangement cannot be overstated: The two of you are looking at something besides each other, which can provide conversational fodder. (“That bartender sure has moves.” “Did you ever see the movie Cocktail?” “Ugh, what happened to Tom Cruise? He had so much promise!” And so on.)
So, you are on a date with another actual human, but you prefer not to actually have to look at this human. Hmmm. Interesting strategy to encourage connection and intimacy.
You wish to have a conversation, but not based on your observations about how the other person is responding or how much enthusiasm they show for a particular subject. Something superficial and trite fits the order of the day. Oooooooookay.
You are more likely to get away with having something stuck in your teeth, or quietly spilling water on yourself, or dropping your silverware, in the forgiving ambit of his peripheral vision.
God forbid you should stop thinking about yourself for ten seconds all at once. My teeth! How are my teeth? Check your reflection in the bar mirror. How’s your hair? Is your lipstick smudged? Is that push-up bra delivering the promised boobage? Maybe a little discreet lift and tuck is in order?
Me me me me me me me me me me me ….meeeeeeeee!
God, it must be exhausting to think about yourself so much.
The side-by-side posture is both equalizing and intimate—and if he’s a dud, you might be able to catch a glimpse of the game while pretending to “get to know him.” (Or he might do the same to you, in which case, eating at the bar is bullshit.) But the best part of perching with your date at the bar is that it allows you to circumvent the gender seating wars.
I’m sorry, but why are even on a date if your intention is to watch the game while pretending to “get to know him”? The outright declaration that you don’t really have any interest in this person as a human being is a little creepy, to be frank. He better be valuing YOU as a human though – that game only plays one way.
The fact that Katy can see where she sits as a “gender war” really says pretty much everything we need to know about her, doesn’t it? You’re on a date with someone you don’t really want to look at, you don’t want to have any deep conversation with, you don’t particularly want to “get to know”, you can’t stop thinking about yourself and how you appear and where you sit is a declaration of war!
How does this woman ever get a date in the first place?
An unspoken Hammurabi’s Code seeks to dictate where men and women park themselves while dining together. (Same sex couples, I’d imagine, are spared some of this aggravations, or maybe the ambiguity just compounds the problem.) As I understand it, the lady sits with her back to the wall, facing the room, while the gentleman gallantly takes the seat with the more limited view. This is supposedly chivalrous, because the room-facing seat is perceived as more desirable, based on an ancestral antipathy to being caught unawares in the savannah, with your back to the lion.
Uhm, no. That is not why the man sits with his back to the room.
“Think of the woman as the guest of honor,” says Post, “and the guest of honor always gets the best seat, which is with her back to the wall, looking out over the room.” When applicable, the man should also offer her the seat with less “aisle traffic” passing from behind. If it’s a table positioned in the middle of the room, then let her choose where she wants to sit, says Kirsch.
It’s actually a compliment to the lady, and the man is seated, presumably, between the lady and any danger that might arise, no matter how improbable. Ultimately, you’ll note that a gracious man allows a woman to choose.
But leave it to Katy to twist a compliment into an insult.
It is not (necessarily) chivalrous. Certainly the men (sometimes) mean well, but I would much rather feel free to get up and leave at any point, rather than being boxed in by a seating arrangement that has me wedged between the table and the wall.
Is it just me, or does that whole thing sound kinda rapey? Boxed in. Wedged. Vulnerable. Freedom to just get up and leave curtailed. First date, and Katy already has her gentlemen companion wedged into the “all men are potential rapists” box.
Other women will disagree, and that’s part of life, and dating—learning about another individual’s preferences, deciding whether or not you can accommodate them. But the rigidity of the Code makes it highly awkward, because I often want my date to sit where he’d prefer to sit anyway, and it’s weird to be constantly issuing disclaimers about how you truly don’t mind having your back to the room, especially if the guy is already pulling out your chair with a look of pained martyrdom on his face.
Other women most certainly disagree. I have a question though: how are you supposed to learn about another person’s preferences when you don’t want to look at him or talk to him and prefer to watch the game while pretending to “get to know him”? Really. How is that supposed to work?
It’s weird to be constantly issuing disclaimers? You would prefer that your date sit where he wants? I have a suggestion for you Katy. Stop issuing disclaimers. Shut the fuck up. And stop thinking about what you would prefer. Give his preferences top priority, and let him be gracious if he so chooses (although hell if I know why anyone would be gracious to you). Try, just try, for the course of one evening, not to be an irritating, mouthy cunt.
Can you do that?
That’s why he’s wearing that pained expression of martyrdom, sweetheart. He can’t wait to get the fuck away from you!
Enter the bar. The bar means parity, escape from the gender seating wars, an end to the passive-aggressive dance of “no, no, you pick.” Plus there are nuts.
Oh, there are nuts alright. Beginning with the guy who agreed to date you.
So there you are, at the bar. No need to look at him. No need to have any meaningful conversation. No need to miss the game. You can just pretend to “get to know him” while checking your teeth in the bar mirror. No feelings of vulnerability, being wedged into an escape proof seating arrangement, in case your date gets all rapey on you. It’s all tickety-boo.
Why are you out with him in the first place? Katy, you sound like a terrible date. Like you’re entitled to male attention but with no obligation to return it or even make a passing gesture of acknowledgement like LOOKING at your companion.
So what’s the motivation? Why put yourself, and him, through this exercise of bitchiness and dismissiveness?
Bartender? Check, please!
Oh, my. Well, there we have it, don’t we? I guess that image of the call girl waiting for a customer wasn’t too far off the mark, was it?
Yeah, Katy, you sit at the bar. Smart men will see you instantly for what you are.
The rest of us will be seated with our backs to the wall, enjoying the company of men we are interested in looking at and speaking to, and with hardly any requirement at all to “get up and leave at any point”.
Well, pee breaks, obviously. And when your first date is actually in a washroom, that’s not a problem at all!
Lots of love,