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Sounds fishy: She eats (and eats), yet he pays

January 11, 2007|Andy Cowan | Special to The Times

I know better than to invite a blind date to dinner. With all due respect, chew on this: Shouldn't you and I be the main course? The eventual meal, after we've hopefully grown to like each other a tad, should be the side dish. Let the meal take over as the main attraction after we really get to know each other.

But what happens when you're in the middle of the mutually agreed upon trial coffee inspection, and she suggests grabbing a bite? Was she enjoying my company so much that she needed to elongate our visit with food? Unlikely. Was she about to enjoy her visit with food so much that she didn't mind extending her visit with me? More likely.

Rest assured that I have no qualms about spending money when it's a loving, or "liking," expression of how I feel. This wasn't one of those times. Yet.

I thought about calling it a late afternoon, but would that be premature? Just because my internal Hubba Hubba Telescope hadn't picked up signs of life, it didn't necessarily mean none existed. Maybe we'd jumped the first hurdle. Maybe this was, in effect, a double feature -- Date No. 2.

After she inquired, "Do you like sushi?" I subconsciously perused my "English to English on a Date" dictionary for the translation: "Do you like spending cash?" This was beginning to seem more like date No. 3 or 4. I suspected there wouldn't be another if I asked, "Do you like SpaghettiOs?"

The microscopic chemistry that percolated during our kaffeeklatsch was growing still dimmer. Back then, she'd evidently held a goal: dinner. Taking a page from the book of the same name, either she wasn't that into me, or I wasn't that into her. Which came first? Did her lukewarm vibes wind up creating my lukewarm vibes? Or did mine foster hers, which further defrosted mine? When you click with someone, you rise to the occasion and become a state-of-the-art "you" -- the best "you" possible, the honest "you." That's when something comforting settles in: You like yourself again. And that's when they really like you.

Agreeing to this hostagetaking situation made liking myself nearly as challenging as liking her. As she continued ordering, I awaited a period. But there were only ellipses ... salmon roll ... scallop roll

As the endless parade of colorful concoctions floated our way, I felt like Bob Eubanks on New Year's morning, albeit a lot less perky. The food was indeed the main attraction for my "co-hostess," as were the drinks she continually downed. I was as dispensable as a New Year's Day high school band. She directed warm eye contact to the eel. My forehead was getting clammy, sans the clam roll, as I awaited my sentence: guilty. Pay the $117, including a tip, and you may go. Here's another tip: Next time your date likes her food more than she does you, ask her to split the bill. Then see how much she likes it. (Note to self: Don't just fantasize about doing this in an article.) I walked her to her car. She thanked me for the coffee. Then I suggested we do this again, the next time I felt like some "cold fish." I liked myself again.

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