Chinese check fighting
One of the time-honored traditions passed down from generation to generation among my Chinese ancestors and peers is showing generosity by paying for the meal. I’m not all that good at it, even thought I saw it modeled and demonstrated by my generous Dad on many occasions when we’re doing a meal with family friends or even strangers. My own preference is to go dutch, or I’ll just pay for the meal without putting up the fight. A little more subtle, much less showmanship. The whole ritual goes far beyond just paying for it, it’s the banter and jibe that goes with it about why one has to pay for the meal too.
So last night, I’m meeting up with some old friends here in Dallas. They have 2 boys and we have 1. This was the first time that all 7 of us have ever gotten together in person. This was a special reunion over Tex-Mex, and we invited some other old friends along too. Since he’s a lawyer, he advised me to not mention him by name, with a subtle jovial subtext that he could very well serve me a cease-and-desist or slander or defamation if I put him in too bad of a light. Let me move on to the punch line.
Our waitress gave us separate checks based on our family units. I was about to put my credit card to my check, and my friend pulls on the check, wrinkling it up, and almost tore it up! I usually don’t think so well in the moment, but this time a new thought came to mind. “Hey, this check isn’t on my tab!” A moment of relief and release came upon my dear friend. I’ve found a loophole in the ritual. No need to fight for the check when it’s generously covered as a business expense. (on a separate occasion, then, the fight was over who had the bigger per diem.)