Splitting dining checks

Tonight, Chris and I had dinner at Brushstroke, David Bouley’s venture into Japanese kaiseki cuisine. It was an incredible dining experience with some very unique flavors. We had probably the best and richest miso soup; it was made with a guinea hen broth and a bright, clean white miso. We ate snail-shaped ferns for the first time. I also had my first soy milk-based panna cotta, as well as an unconventional affogato made with matcha green tea ice cream and a white chocolate and nigori sake. Even the cocktails we ordered were some of the best we’ve ever drank.

One odd thing about our dining experience was the couple sitting next to us. Since being with Chris, I have a higher tendency to half eavesdrop on surrounding conversations at restaurants here and there. So I was half listening to their conversation and observing their moments. Sometimes, they seemed very loving and affectionate. At other times, they seemed distant and strained. They were discussing a child I assumed was hers but not his. And I think they were married. And the biggest shocker came at the very end of their meal when I realized that they were getting separate checks.

If you are married, or at least in a long term relationship with someone you love, why would you ever split a check down the middle and pay with separate credit cards? They even consulted on how much each should be tipping. I understand the need to be “equal” and want everyone to contribute, but isn’t splitting a romantic dinner check down the middle a bit of an overkill (and a mood killer for the rest of the evening)? There is something to be said for going overboard on keeping track of everything down to the last cent – lifetime partnership should operate like human relationships, not business transactions.

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