They say life begins at forty, and for me that turned out to be true, because it was around that time I decided to start taking dancing lessons. In the course of taking these lessons, I met a lot of women also taking lessons with whom I would dance during the practice sessions at the studio, and out of these I soon found one who was willing to be a regular dancing partner.
Now, when it comes to dancing, there are two kinds of men: those who put sex before dancing, and those who put dancing before sex. In other words, some men don’t care if a woman has two left feet, as long as they can have sex with her. But I really enjoyed dancing, and so it was that if a woman and I had dancing chemistry, I didn’t really care if the partnership was strictly platonic. Well, I cared, but not enough to give her up.
At first, I would pay for her drinks when we went dancing, because that is what a gentleman usually does on a date, but as we were going out three nights a week, it was all getting to be a little expensive, especially as this occurred on top of the cost of the lessons. After a couple of months, I told her we would have to go Dutch treat from then on, to which she happily agreed. It was especially easy for me to reach this decision once I determined that we were never going to be more than just friends. My decision was also facilitated by the fact that she made four times as much money as I did.
Dancing partners come and go, and so the typical partnership would last about two years. Most of them, despite my most amorous efforts, would end up being platonic, and after a while, I decided to start them right off on a Dutch treat basis, and if that cost me my chances for romance, that was just too bad. I asked one woman I met in a studio if she wanted to go dancing at the Midnight Rodeo, quickly adding, “But it will have to be Dutch treat.” She replied thoughtfully, “All right. We can just be friends.” I wanted to say, in hopes of being amusing, “Oh, I didn’t say we couldn’t have sex. I just don’t want to pay for it,” but I decided that she might not appreciate my witticism.
Opposites attract, and so it is perhaps not surprising that one of my favorite dancing partners was a gold digger. Or, if that seems a little harsh, let’s just say that Sheila was the most expensive woman I have ever known. Normally, she would never have considered dating a guy like me with my limited income, even if I had been willing to pick up the tab, but she wanted to dance with me as much as I wanted to dance with her, and so she readily agreed to a Dutch treat arrangement.
I should note at this point that when I first started going out with women Dutch treat, I thought it would cut my dating expenses in half. I was wrong. It actually cut them to a quarter of what I would have paid. You see, once these women found out they would have to pay their own way, I was amazed to discover how resourceful they were at finding inexpensive things to do. And very often, these inexpensive activities were more fun than the expensive ones.
Inasmuch as we are in the holiday season, let me take as an example of this principle one that occurred regarding New Year’s Eve. Sheila already had a boyfriend when I met her, and as New Year’s Eve approached, she told me about how she and Robert were going to ring in the new year. They were going to a hotel, where there would be entertainment, a meal, and champagne, along with a room for the night so that they would not have to drive home intoxicated. The cost for the two of them, adjusted for inflation, was around seven hundred dollars. Sheila was quite excited about going, and she showed me the brochure. She knew what a cheapskate I was, and I think she enjoyed making me squirm. I gasped at the cost, but she assured me it was quite reasonable.
You see, Sheila actually liked me better than her boyfriend, and she often hinted that she would be glad to dump him and become my lover instead, if only I was willing to compromise on this Dutch treat business. In so many words, she said she would give me a discount. Robert made twice as much money as she did, but she made twice as much money as I. Knowing this, she said, “I’m always willing to make allowances for a man’s income.” But I knew a compromise would not work. Given the amount I was willing to spend, she would have felt unloved; and given the amount I would have had to spend, I would have felt unloved. And so, things remained as they were.
Anyway, Sheila and Robert celebrated New Year’s Eve in style. The next week, while I was trying to figure out where Sheila and I could do some ballroom dancing, I came across a place that seemed suitable. I told Sheila about it, mentioning that it had a fifteen-dollar cover charge. “Fifteen dollars!” she exclaimed with alarm. “That’s too expensive. We’ll go to the Wild West instead.” Well, that’s what we did, and we each had a five dollar drink, including tip, which we nursed for a couple of hours between dances. And that is what I meant when I said that going Dutch cuts your dating expenses by way more than just half.
Because I had been unable to get Sheila to cheat on her boyfriend, I eventually gave up on that and asked her friend Vera out on a date. As it was our first date, I decided to be generous and pay for her drink that night. If things worked out, I could always bring up the subject of going Dutch treat later on. Vera had a young son, and so there was a babysitter there when I came to pick her up. On the way to the nightclub, she mentioned that what with the cost of a babysitter, she sometimes was reluctant to go out in the evening.
A few days later, while dancing with Sheila, I told her what Vera said. “I almost hate to ask her out again, given what she said about the cost of a babysitter.”
“She was hoping you would pay for it,” Sheila replied. That possibility had never crossed my mind. Here I was, feeling that I had gone above and beyond the call of duty by paying for Vera’s drink, and now Sheila was telling me I was supposed to foot the babysitting bill as well. “We have discussed this many times,” Sheila said. “Vera thinks the man should pay for the babysitter, whereas I say that they are my children, and it is my responsibility to pay for that.”
Now, you may be thinking that Vera was even more of a gold digger than Sheila, but rather, the difference was that Sheila preferred to go for the long play. She knew that trying to get too much money out of a man early on in the relationship was the equivalent of a man trying to get sex on the first date. The bum’s rush is shortsighted and seldom succeeds. She preferred to let a man become enamored of her charms first, after which he would be more amenable to spending his money. She told me about one guy she went out with who started off taking her out on cheap dates like going to museums, but when Christmas came around, he bought her a fox fur. “I almost felt bad about that,” she said, “because he spent the next six months taking the bus to work and bringing his own lunch.”
And I have no doubt that she did almost feel bad, because she really did take a man’s wherewithal into account. For example, she and Robert made plans to go on a trip to Europe, which he estimated would cost about seven thousand dollars. By this time, I was numb to her stories about what that guy paid out. In any event, it occurred to her that her kitchen needed remodeling, and she got an estimate that it could be done for four thousand dollars. So, she told Robert, “If you pay to have my kitchen remodeled, we won’t have to go to Europe.” He agreed. “So you see,” Sheila continued, “By not going to Europe, I saved him a lot of money.”
“You could have saved him even more money,” I replied, “by not going to Australia.”
Anyway, as Christmas rolled around, I knew Sheila was looking forward to what she was going to get from Robert. As he had taken her to a jewelry store to look at a diamond bracelet, which had a five-thousand-dollar price tag on it, she had a pretty good idea that would be it. I called her Christmas day around four in the afternoon, because we had talked about going dancing. It had been my experience that a lot of nightclubs were open on Christmas night, but the dance floor was usually pretty empty, which allowed for practicing some of the more complicated dance patterns.
She had indeed gotten the gift she was hoping for, and she was ready to go dancing. “I have taken down all the decorations and stored them away,” she said, “and the tree is sitting out on the curb waiting to be picked up.”
I was stunned. “Why did you do that?” I asked. “Most people leave the tree up at least until New Year’s.”
“I always get rid of the tree on Christmas afternoon,” she answered, “because I find it a little depressing. It saddens me, because I get to thinking about how we have lost the true meaning of Christmas.”