This piece was supposed to be just about fun. Not artificially engineered creative workplace thinking or playing tetris on your iPhone while on the train type of fun, but the play-like fun you had as a child. The fun that’s made by your own imagination, wearing you out til you’re dog tired and giving your stomach muscles a workout by laughing so hard. But now it’s about fun, playdough, dinner and halving the bill, or not. Because nothing says unfun like a calculator app at the dinner table.
When I was little, the best kind of fun I had was when Mum made me playdough. She’d put Dettol in the playdough to ward off bacteria. Dad and I would craft the playdough into round cheeses – Stilton, Leicestershire, Edam, cheddar. I remember when I was four, Mum’s South African relatives came to stay with us. One of her relatives was an eight year old boy – I called him Sair-Dick. I think his name was Cedrick, but I had trouble pronouncing the R. Sair-Dick had never played with play dough before! Can you imagine?! Never squishing it through a garlic press to make worms, or making animals from it. I showed him my playdough. And he ate it – Dettol and all. His insides must have been really clean.
I’ve had some fun with a cute boy I met a few months back. Not fun as in casual sex, but some playful fun. We have debated the pronunciation of Calippo (rhymes with Hippo), gone to an abandoned house, and I went for for a dink on his bike (the latter two I’d never normally do given my aversion to all things scary!). We giggled as we rode wonkily down the main strip, and recounted the fun we’d had when we collapsed on the couch. And the memories made by that fun kept me smiling for the whole of the next day. We have had silly conversations, we’ve talked about serious things, I have gazed a lot at him because he’s gorgeous, and he’s kissed me. I really liked him.
But there has been a few times where we’ve had to pay for stuff. And then it stopped being fun. The first time we went out, he took me to a cafe where you pay what you feel. I paid $10, because I wasn’t really feeling great about the bain-marie vegetarian meals (yes, I am a foodie snob). And he paid nothing. Nothing. There was the debate over the value of $4.50 dumplings vs $6 dumplings – and when I paid for some of his because he didn’t have enough change, he asked for a receipt so he could pay me back, not wanting to be in debt to me.
The next time the money issue came up was when I suggested we see a band together once I was out of hospital. He believed that $26 was too much to pay for a pretty big Australian singer songwriter. Meanwhile, I’ve paid $300 to see Darren Hayes before. And then, the clincher, the moment I felt flat and realised this wasn’t the guy for me: we had a lovely meal, lots of laughs and I gazed at his face a lot. The bill came and he whipped out his phone, asking me where the calculator app was. He totalled our servings to the cent – I owed $28.20 and he owed $24.60, because he didn’t have a wine. My heart sunk.
I dine out a lot. You can see this from my Instagram account. I dine out alone, and I dine out with foodies. We almost always go halves when we pay. Sometimes when I go out with a certain other male friend, he buys me drinks or offers me the rest of the change after we’ve gone halves in our meal. Sometimes I take the change or I will leave a tip. I understand that if someone orders a $50 wagyu fillet and you only order a $15 pasta, you’re not likely to go halves, but if the price of both your meals are around the same, then why not?
I am certainly not expecting a man to pay my way, but I don’t like such precision and the idea of owing when dining out. If we had split the bill, we could have paid $26.45 each. That he didn’t value me enough to spend an extra $2 at dinner saddened me. And his attractiveness and the level of fun we were having declined rapidly.
Of course I am sensible with my money, but I’m not so frugal that I won’t add a few extra dollars to the kitty. I’m a big believer that going out for a meal shows someone you enjoy your dining partner’s company, and it’s only polite to go halves. And that calculator app on the smartphone – it takes the fun out of everything.
What do you do to have playful fun? And what are your thoughts about splitting the bill down to the last cent?