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Sunday, October 17, 2021

Column: Material girl

Being a gay individual, I get asked lots of questions.

“When did you realize you were gay?” is a popular one. “How did your parents react?” gets asked a lot, too. My personal favorite is, “How many guys have you slept with?”

But the question that everyone seems to want me to answer goes something like this: “So, uhh … when you and your boyfriend go out on like a date or something, who pays?”

I can’t help but laugh every time I’m asked – it’s difficult to take ignorance seriously.

When asked, I tend to respond with another question: “Who do you think pays?”

Instantly, they say Arthur.

“You’re more like … ‘the girl’ in the relationship, huh Mario? That’s why Arthur pays.”

Again. A chuckle in the name of ignorance.

I guess I really can’t blame the people who ask me, though. Most dates come right out of the pages of a romance novel written in the ’20s: Boy likes girl. Boy asks girl to dinner. Boy dies a bit inside when he forks over the cash to pay for the freeloading floozy who just so happened to order the most expensive entrée on the menu. Their love flourishes while the boy’s bank account doesn’t.

Sure, it might seem common sense to say the gentleman picks up the tab for his lady friend. But what if that gentleman isn’t too fond of ladies and is instead infatuated with the little Latin boy down the street? Who pays for their night on the town?

The answer is quite simple: The couple figures that shit out on their own. Ignore all that etiquette nonsense. Don’t succumb to those traditional dating practices. They’re evil and will taint your precious and beautifully free-spirited minds. Be modern.

Arthur and I have created the perfect system – and it works for us every time: Arthur pays.

Okay, let me explain. See, I’m generous by nature, but have very limited resources. If I had the money, I’d generously throw down some bills for a lavish dinner to share with my boo.

But I can’t save money for shit. As soon as I get some, I need to shop. (Yes. Need.) So by the time I’ve got a whole new wardrobe and accessories to boot, the last few dollars left in my bank account just aren’t enough for food at a later point in time. I’m a young and dirt-broke (but still fabulous!) damsel in distress who ends up getting saved by my boyfriend’s debit card.

I’m super grateful I have Arthur. I don’t know what I’d do if I had to actually save money for later. I’d probably still shop at the same shopaholic degree I do now, but survive on my roommates’ peanut butter and cracker crumbs. Maybe some Top Ramen, too – if I didn’t buy Vogue instead.

Arthur makes sure I eat well. He takes me to Safeway, loads up my fridge with nutritious veggies and meats, cooks up some delicious meal and gets a kiss from this broke-ass, but grateful, freeloader.

I would say Arthur pays for me a good 98 percent of the time we go out together. Whether it be a dinner, a movie, a late-night craving or munchie run, Arthur’s wallet is right there with us every step of the way.

I ask him all the time if he’s okay to pay. I’m not unappreciative, nor am I blind to his financial situation. I know he doesn’t have an unlimited amount of money. And I never expect him to pay when we go somewhere. Arthur actually offers to pay – when he sees I’m about to pull out my wallet, he’s quick to retaliate with something along the lines of: “Baby, what do you think you’re doing? I got this one.”

I don’t know what to think of the whole situation – or what to think of myself, for that matter. I don’t particularly enjoy having him pay for everything. It makes me seem like a good-for-nothing moocher who can’t even buy himself a sandwich without having to rely on his boyfriend’s plastic. Like I said, if I were wiser with my money, I’d buy him the world in a heartbeat. He deserves it.

But I do like the feeling of being taken care of. It’s comforting to know that Arthur cares enough about me to make sure I have what I need and I’m happy. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

I suppose the “it’s up to you” advice I gave for the “who pays?” conundrum wasn’t too groundbreaking and original. But that doesn’t make it any less valuable.

If you’re a guy who’s generous, go for it. Pay for your date. Hell, while you’re at it, you can pay for me, too. If you’re Miss Independent and feel completely capable of handling your own, go on and swipe that Visa, sweetie – more power to you!

Here’s a cute idea: Try saying something like, “Hey, why don’t I pay for this one and you can get it next time?” It can either A) prompt your date to insist on paying for at least his or her share, or B) ensure a second date. Both outcomes should be very pleasant for you.

MARIO LUGO would like to know how things go down for you. Does your boo pay? Do you pay? Split 50/50? Let him know at mlugo@ucdavis.edu. (Or if you’re single and just want someone to talk to, he’s here for you, too.)

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