Recession special: Are women dating for free food?

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In my never-ending quest for cool things to write about, I read (or at least scan) three or four newspapers a day. One major trend that I've noticed in the New York papers is what I call the "how yuppies survive a recession" column.

Every time the news is a little slow, I see yet another article featuring some fresh-faced Manhattan-dwelling Steve Stifflip or Polly Patrician who is considering the move to (gasp!) Brooklyn or even (double gasp!) Queens. He or she whines about the miseries of making ends meet on a mere $80,000 a year, not being able to afford organic radicchio, only being able to eat out once or twice a week, and having to postpone this year's trip to Europe. As I slog through this nonsense, I find myself wondering if I could get a bill passed that would make it legal to eat the rich.

Sometimes I hate people. There, I've said it.


Recently, though, I've seen a new low. In an article in AM New York, a young lady who lives in Central Park West (a very ritzy neighborhood) talked about how she's surviving the recession. In addition to attending book signings, free museum days, and other inexpensive outings, she noted that she's "Really upped the dating [...] I tend to date chivalrous types who can take me out to nice places. It's helped me survive the recession."

Hold on a minute: did she say what I think she said? Admittedly, I've been out of the dating pool for a couple of years, but since when is this legit? Granted, I bought a lot of meals for potential girlfriends, but, after the first couple of outings, most of the women that I dated became uncomfortable with the patriarchal aspects of the "man paying for dinner" phenomenon. We'd alternate, go dutch, or make home-cooked meals for each other. Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but using your date as a source for free food seems particularly mercenary. At what point did it become acceptable to use a young swain to subsidize one's food expenditures? More to the point, I have to wonder if this young women's gentlemen callers read AM New York!

Basically, my biggest question is this: is this a new trend or the world's oldest profession?

Bruce Watson is a freelance writer, blogger, and all-around cheapskate. He has his standards: he won't put out if someone takes him to Mickey D's. It's Wendy's or nothing, baby!

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