This week I went to lunch with three of my girlfriends. It just so happened that on the same day, my husband had lunch with three of his coworkers, too. We even ended up at the same restaurant, but that's exactly where any similarity between our two outings stopped, proving once again that men and women do everything differently. Even lunch.
For ladies, lunch is a social outing that's usually organized days in advance. After all, there are all those volunteer meetings and aerobic classes to work around, not to mention appointments to have "roots done" that have been on the calendar for months. For men, organizing lunch requires one quick phone call an hour beforehand.
Next comes the selection of a restaurant. With ladies, "Where shall we go?" is followed by at least twenty minutes of "Oh, I really don't care. Any place is fine with me", and if it weren't for someone casually remarking, "Well, I did have Mexican food last night, why don't we go Italian?" we'd never end up anywhere at all. With men, someone just declares the spot and they all go there. How do they manage that?
Once we reach the restaurant, then we're faced with the ordeal of ordering. Men do this individually. They simply look at the menu and pick something. Even weirder, they never change their minds when they hear what someone else is getting, and they don't spend the rest of the time wishing they'd gotten something else. For women, ordering is a group thing. "What are you getting, Liz?" "Has anybody had the tortilla soup?" "I'm dying to try the manicotti, but I couldn't possibly eat a whole order. Does anyone want to split?"
We get sidetracked because someone is on a new diet, and we have to hear all about that, which leads to a discussion of so-and-so's liposuction ("Don't tell anyone this but her husband told my husband he was furious because he was planning to use that money for a new bass boat!") By the time the waiter comes to take our order, we've all forgotten what we wanted. We usually end up ordering salads. (A discussion about liposuction does that to you.)
There's never a lag in the conversation at a table full of women. After the obligatory grandmothers’ brag fest, we move on to whose kids’ jobs are "iffy” right now, and that leads to a discussion of the latest movies and which books are on the "must read” list. With such a steady stream of chatter and giggling, it’s a wonder we have time to eat.
It’s not that men don't have conversations at their tables, too. I'm almost sure that they do. I saw my husband and his friends across the restaurant, and their mouths were moving, as if they were indeed speaking. But when I interrogated him on the topics at home later that night, he drew a complete blank. Can you imagine?
Nowhere is the difference between a men's lunch and a women's lunch more evident than when the waiter brings the check. Supposedly in a group of men, one fellow will just "pick this one up" on his credit card. Not so with women. We will spend easily half an hour dissecting the bill, trying to determine exactly who had the chicken Caesar and who had the club sandwich. We divide the cost of dessert equally, since we only ordered one and asked for four forks. That part's easy. But when someone's entree was twelve dollars, and someone else's was only seven, how should we divide the tip? And do we tip on the tax? We're quite a sight, hovering over that tiny faded slip of paper, scribbling figures on the back, tapping totals into tiny hand-held calculators and giving each other the correct change from the growing pile of bills on the table. No accounting firm could possibly do a more accurate job than a group of women can when it comes to calculating their share of a simple lunch tab.
Like I said earlier, for women lunch is a social thing. It’s a chance to put on lipstick and talk to another human being. A chance to eat something besides peanut butter on a stale hot dog bun. A chance to relax and enjoy being out of the house. For men, lunch is just lunch. I suggest we just leave it like that. Why? Because if they find out how much fun we're having, they might want to come over to our table and join us, and that would totally ruin everything!