when in rome do as the romans do.
At a restaurant the designation “large party” is like those “oversize load” signs they put on flatbed trucks that are carrying mobile homes down the freeway. The person who said, “Let’s cut this house in half and drive it down the interstate.” Is probably the same ambitious person who said “Let’s go out to dinner with 16 of our closest friends. That sounds fun.”
Is there a quicker mood change than the one between the dessert everyone pretended they didn’t want but practically took off your finger trying to get to and the moment the check is delivered to the table?
At this point you have three options, the most painless of course being suicide. The second is that everyone pay what they think they owe: The operative word here of course being “think” and the words coming after it being “not very hard.”
At this point it seems that your friends have completely forgotten how to do arithmetic. It would seem that this is the thought process that is going through their heads: Well mine was $11.95, and if we round that’s $10 so I’ll put in $13, because I had a beer. That should be good.
It’s not just that they don’t know how much they owe, it’s that they don’t want to know. It’s like how people put their hands over the balance screen at the ATM, and start pressing enter like if they had wanted to see that number they would have gotten a better job.
Of course you are invariably $7-$15 short, and everyone’s suddenly really busy with their iPhones. They’re saying in things like, “I can make it look like a fish tank when I want to,” and you’re like, “Yeah, well when is that? How about you make it look like a calculator. ” Finally, someone says okay everyone put in 50 more cents, we are not doing this to the waitress, and so everyone’s like “I already put in my $16.75. Does anyone have change for a dollar.” There is always one person at dinner who ends up paying like 3 times as much as they actually owe, “Oh yeah we went out to pizza. It was great. It cost $25.00, a slice.”
If you want to avoid this you can just go the 50/50 split route. Every group has a 50/50 splitter, we’ll call her Chloe because honestly that’s probably her name. 50/50s operate by a very specific code of manners that seems to have everything to do with splitting a bill evenly no matter who had 12 glasses of wine. It’s not that she’s so much richer than you just that she’s so much better. These are also typically the kind of people who don’t eat all day if they know they are going out to dinner. At breakfast they’ll say something like, “I’d better not ruin my appetite. I know I’ll be eating again in 13 hours.” For 50/50s going out to dinner is an EVENT!, the rest of us aren’t really sure if we want to throw all our chips in for this particular meal. Mark is gonna be there. And Mark is honestly kind of a dick. Am I really gonna get an appetizer so I can sit here and share it with Mark? The 50/50s are the ones who glare at you when you say something like, “I’m just coming for a drink.” Or “I’m not really that hungry, I’ll just have the Wasabi mashed potatoes as my entrée.” And quite frankly they should glare at you, because you’re acting like an asshole. But you guys aren’t really so different: You’re thinking you shouldn’t be here, and they’re thinking the same thing.
You will not find ever find a 50/50 playing the Who Owes What to Whom game. So Jenny’s putting the dinner on her card, and everyone else is giving her cash, but turns out that So and So’s cousin is $5 short, and he’s like, “I’ll get ya next time,” and you’re like, “You live in Phoenix.”
And let’s just get this out of the way, the waitress hates you. She hates you the minute you walk in. The only thing keeping her even vaguely interested in your table, which being a large-party is probably just a blanket on the floor of a broom closet, is the mandatory 18% gratuity. So you’re not going to get good service because A. your server hates you and B. her tip is already secured. Who came up with that? That is a great system.
Then there’s all the different strategies that people have for getting out of this whole debacle. There are the early exiters who bring like $50 in ones and a calculator and jump up 5 minutes before everyone else and mete out their exact owage to a designated person, probably chosen before hand probably in on it too for a cut of the doggie bag, and scamper out the door. There’s the person who wants to partner up and then just split between two people, which is always a kind of weird thing, especially if you don’t know the person and then all of a sudden you’re on this date within a date. Then there’s the I ate before I came and brought my own wine in a SmartWater bottle person. This person is not fooling anyone, not even in tenderloin does drinking water that closely resemble blood. This person has dropped all pretense of having a job, and is just generally embarrassing, but their goal is accomplished because they won’t ever be invited again. Then there’s the person who wants to play credit card roulette, and you’re like dude you’re way too much fun for this group, get some better friends. There’s the person, probably a former waitress, who wants to put all six credit cards in and then write the initials and expiration date of each card next to the amount it owes, and then organize them into alphabetical order and wants a fucking gold medal for thinking of this.
There’s the person who comes late just for drinks and let me tell you that the 50/50 splitter will want them included in the split anyway, and this person is like, “But I only had a drink and I paid for it at the bar,” and the 50/50 splitter is like, “Really? You’re going to do this now?”