In Chinese culture, it’s the norm for Chinese families and friends to fight over the bill after a meal has ended at a restaurant. The driving force behind it is the idea of “saving face,” or really “having face,” because it shows that you want to take care of the payment and want to treat everyone, and can afford to do it and want to show your care for those people at your table. The frustrating thing about it, though, is that the people fighting over the bill tend to not all want to pay the bill, but they just want to have a big dramatic show of trying to get the bill, even if they don’t want to pay. It sounds very negative, but it’s true. Usually, it’s already been made clear before the meal who pays, but the fight happens anyway.
Well, last night, Chris’s cousins wanted to pay the bill for real, and I wanted to pay the bill for real, so we proceeded to engage in the biggest bill brawl I’ve probably ever personally experienced. We were in close quarters at J.G. Melon on the Upper East Side (where I’m willing to bet NO fight over the bill has ever occurred given the clientele), and we fought like there was no foreseeable end — it resulted it pulling, ripping the bill into two pieces, toppling over of items on the dining table, the waiter coming over to let us know that he had only one copy of the bill, “so please do not destroy it,” and my biting both of them on their arms and fingers.
At least in these dramatic cases, it’s nice to know that all parties fighting all genuinely want to pay the bill. It’s kind of a nice, comforting feeling. But I still won’t let them win. This is when winning does matter.