Group Dinners At Restaurants Are Never Fun, And We Need To Stop Having Them » VSB

Featured, Theory & Essay

Group Dinners At Restaurants Are Never Fun, And We Need To Stop Having Them

iStock

 

Getting older seems to come with a fair amount of side effects—increased joint pain, indigestion, tooth sensitivity, general peevishness about being awake after 11 on a weeknight. Some of these are just general consequences of your body letting you know that you, too, are slowly decaying from years of treating it like Play-Doh. Others are just the impact of increased administrative responsibilities—if 14-year-old me had any idea of the clusterfuck that is tax season, I am more than sure that I would have tried to draw out my teen years as long as humanly possible.*

Then there are things that are just terrible but we keep trying to convince ourselves are worthwhile components of adulthood. One such example is attending Lauryn Hill performances in 2016. Another is group dinners.

Gatherings of more than six people for a communal meal at a restaurant continue to be one of the more irritable dining experiences that I, for some reason, find myself repeatedly paying for the pleasure of having. Every time, I find myself walking away with the song “Never Again” firmly in my heart … and then, with the frequency of a dental-cleaning reminder, another one of my friends insists that the best way to celebrate his or her birthday is with a collective of friends from different groups in your life who only ever interact with one another the one day we are forced to.

Even if you’ve made a reservation, it’ll take forever to get the table prepared for the group. That is, of course, assuming the entire group makes it to the reservation on time, a feat about as probable as me not eating a Popeyes $5 special for the next month. Once everyone is seated, it takes the entire baker’s dozen about 45 minutes to decide what to eat … which is then followed by another 45 minutes for all the food to be ready to come out at the same time.

The waiting game after you have ordered the food and are desperately waiting to stuff your mouth with all the starches the establishment has to offer is a special form of purgatory. If you are the guest of honor, the conversation is stilted because you are only able to really speak to the people immediately next to you. If you’re an attendee stuck between two people you don’t know and are unable to spark insightful discussion about what’s in the new crispy chicken wrap, you’re stuck checking your text messages and straining your ear desperately to hear if there’s a topic on the other end of the table you can jump in on, all while your stomach is doing the A-Town stomp awaiting some chicken and waffles. If you’re on the opposite end of the table … well, I hope you have some good books in your Kindle.

All of this happens before we even get to the business of the check. I don’t know what it is about settling a check that turns the tabletop at Elberta (RIP) into a live-action version of Game of Thrones, but it is the inevitable tense conclusion of every mass-dining function, and I want out.

No matter what your ragtag group of 20- to 40-something friends may consist of, the following personalities are guaranteed to present themselves once it’s time to pay the restaurant for services rendered:

1. The person who is vehemently against splitting checks—no ifs, ands or buts

A position I could understand if there were one or two people who spent egregiously more than others, but if no one splurged on the surf and turf and there are 10 of us with comparably priced entrees plus a drink, demanding an itemized distribution is the easiest way to get on everyone’s shit list. If the differential comes out to plus or minus $5 to $10, you’ll be fine.

2. The asshat that orders the surf and turf, seven bottles of wine and dessert

Stunt on your own time. We are all here to eat our medium-priced chicken carbonara, hug the guest of honor and go home. Save the spot for later if you must find out what their pig roast tastes like, but leave us out of that receipt, please.

3. The person who only has exactly enough for the sticker cost of his or her meal

Ignore the fact that, the bulk of the time, these events usually have a guest of honor, such as a birthday person, whose meal will usually get comped by the group. You’ve made it all the way to adulthood and need to be reminded that tax and tip are a thing?! Plus, gratuity is almost always included in the tab for large parties. Go back to whatever mole tribe you came from, but leave your $37.95 behind.

4. The person who shorts his or her part of the bill but won’t own up to it

It’s 11:15 p.m., everyone is full and tired and ready to say their goodbyes, but somehow we are 20 bucks short and no one knows how. Don’t be that person unless you want to be thoroughly embarrassed by me. Let someone know if you ain’t got it; more than likely, that person will be able to spot you. Or, an even more novel idea: Don’t go out if you don’t think you can afford the expenditure. Novel idea, I know!

In short: Large group dinners are awful, and if I have agreed to attend one for your birthday or graduation or going-away party, please know that I have made the mental calculation that our friendship is worth the approximately three-plus hours of agony that you have requested to put us all through. Please repay that love by never asking me to go through that mess again.

* As I write this, I have still not filed my taxes. S–t ain’t fun when you owe.

Filed Under: ,
Shamira Ibrahim

Shamira is a twentysomething New Yorker who likes all things Dipset. You can join her in waxing poetically about chicken, Cam'ron, and gentrification (gotta have some balance) under the influence of varying amounts of brown liquor at her semi-monthly blog, shamspam.tumblr.com

  • Creole Reasoning

    Let the congregation say “amen.”

    • Damon Young

      great screen name, btw

      • Creole Reasoning

        Thanks, yo. Great post, as usual.

  • Courtney Wheeler

    Group dinners should happen with only like minded individuals who have home training and wont front once that Venmo request is sent..

    Might I also add…if you were invited to a birthday dinner and don’t have the money..just don’t go…you’ll save everyone the headaches and me not rolling my eyes at you.

    • miss t-lee

      I’ll never forget that my bestie’s aunts left after ordering and eating a gang of food. We settled up the bill, or so we though, and the server is like their is still $60 that hasn’t been paid for. They left under the guise that they thought someone else was covering it.
      For your niece’s bachelorette dinner?

      • Courtney Wheeler

        Yeah see? Dead wrong. Don’t assume nothing when you go out to dinner..it’s either you have the money or you don’t. I don’t mind paying for someone if you’re tight with money at the moment..I’ve been there but assuming is rude as heck.

        • miss t-lee

          Fish grease. My bestie was mortified.

  • PDL – Cape Girl

    I do group dinners sometimes with the folks in my circle. While we’ve done it on weekends, it’s mostly after church service. For us it’s even keeled though because everyone is paired. If there is a group of 12, there are 6 dinner tabs, etc. We ain’t with that overlapping stuff or confused over who is paying for what. Most times the men will order appetizers, but that’s nothing really to debate over. It’s going on their tabs (he who orders), usually 4 or 5 appetizers on the table before the meal, for everyone to enjoy.

    I haven’t felt anyone checking for stuff. It’s pretty much laid out that everything is divvied in couples.

  • miss t-lee

    My tips:

    1. Bring cash
    2. Ask beforehand if they split checks, make sure they do that. Pay with your plastic.
    3. If not, leave cash for the items you ate and or/consumed. If you had a piece of anything, leave money for it.
    Don’t forget the tip/gratuity.
    4. If someone begins to act up, call them on their sh*t. They know what they ordered, FOH.
    Don’t let anyone leave the table til the deal is done. Folks are good for going to the powder room, or otherwise disappearing during this time.
    5. The birthday person or other celebrant should not be paying for their items. That’s tacky. This really should be figured out beforehand, but if not–throw something towards it.
    6. Adios

    *honorable mention*
    Refuse any future group dinner invitations with anyone who acted shiesty when the check came. Life is too short for this type of sh*t.

    • AnswerMe

      I always promise to bring cash (which I never carry) to functions but then run on what is formerly known as CP time and don’t make it to the ATM. Sigh.

      • miss t-lee

        Hahahah. It’s a struggle, I understand.

    • Charlyn Lenore

      Random thought on number 5- Is it kinda bogus that the birthday person orchestrates this bday with all of thier friends and then expects to be paid for? WE didn’t invite you out. You said “i want to go to dinner for my birthday!”
      I am not against spotting the celebrant I’d just be annoyed that they full initiated it.
      Again random thought
      I always try to bring cash and put in my part tip and bday gift portion included. I hate math so i over pay my share on GP

      • miss t-lee

        IDK.
        I wouldn’t let my friend pay for her birthday dinner, if she planned it, or not.

        • I once had a group of friend-ish co-workers excitedly suggest we go out to dinner for my birthday…and then I paid for myself. I was like “wtf, this was their idea. I was perfectly content with going home.” I never let a friend pay for their birthday meal, regardless of who planned the outing

          • miss t-lee

            That’s foul of them. ? dang, sorry!
            Amen. You were raised right.

      • April

        Yeah it does sound a little weird and I’ve seen it backfire before where the bday girl picked an uber-expensive restaurant and expected her 3 friends to cover the bill (as it was our custom to do so for the bday girl)

        I feel like there’s a diff between, “Hey Rochelle your b’day’s coming up next weekend what do you want to do?” and then Rochelle proceeds to tell you a restaurant she was considering and Rochelle inviting folks out to Nipsey’s and expecting ppl to cover her

        • Charlyn Lenore

          That’s exactly what I mean. There’s a way to ask or respond that doesn’t feel like you’re using your friends. They want to celebrate with you. Don’t piss them off.

    • Bklady

      ***Claps slow and loud***

      • miss t-lee

        Appreciate cha. :)

  • Brandon Allen

    I’m all for Sham’s recent series of complaints.

    • Sham is such a grumpy old woman now

      • God Shammgod

        It comes with the hip pain.

  • Not a popular opinion. But after a certain age….if you throw a group dinner….pay for the group dinner.
    *I also don’t like cash bars at parties.

    • miss t-lee

      I can dig it. We’ve done this for my father’s birthday(s). Whoever we invite, we got.

      • Yeah. If you do something prix fixe. No guess work.

        • miss t-lee

          Nah, we don’t do prix fixe, necessarily. Good idea though.
          If we invited you, we got you. It’s normally no more than 10 people.

    • I’m tryna dine out with you :D

    • LaMissLy

      This was always how I assumed it was done– until I moved to the US.

    • Ess Tee

      My mother was telling me that this is exactly as it was in Liberia. Another friend who grew up in Nigeria said the same. If Person A invites Persons B through D out–“Hey, let’s get drinks and such Friday!”–it was usually assumed that Person A would be picking up the tab for all four friends.

      Having only grown up in the U.S., I’m assuming this bill-splitting deal is a largely American thing?

      • My spirit is from another place!!

      • Phee_nix

        My heart wants to pay for everybody. My salary and bills feel otherwise.. I’ll pay for the birthday person or pick up a drink, though. Friendship in Liberia sounds out of my price range.

      • Kas

        Usually split. I had one female friend, demoted to barely acquaintance, because she liked to organize drinks and etc., but put nothing towards the tab. Took us awhile to figure it out.

      • NonyaB

        Yep. Only in places like US and Canada do I see the splitting thing.

    • You are my friend.

    • Kas

      We can e-hang.

    • Leggy

      Seriously. It’s only in the US that I’ve seen people invite other people for group dinners and then not pay. It’s a faux pas in my country

    • Lea Thrace

      You and me are so here >.<

    • April

      See, THIS makes sense. Now the way my checking and savings is set up lol

  • RhetoricalReverie

    I’m definitely not that person here to split the bill. In the first place, I always order steak and lobster and way too many $18 cocktails. I order what I can afford and don’t expect others to take responsibility for my alcoholic gluttony. However, I am of the mind that if the difference isn’t that big, it’s just easier to split the check.

    I was just recounting the time I came to meet a friend who was out with his friends and ordered a drink. When the bill came, this chick tried to imply I was broke because I wouldn’t split her meal, drinks, and dessert. DESSERT! Now I know to go ask the waiter for a separate bill from jump with the excuse that I’ll be leaving early, even though I know damn well I’m throwing the afterparty.

    • Yeah, I’m all about separate bills too. Just what I’m used to. Plus there’s always two or three folks trying to drink the whole bar. I’m not subsidizing your alcoholism, ma’am. Lol

      • RhetoricalReverie

        Listen, maybe it’s the one night I got to go out all month! YOU DON’T KNOW MY LIFE!

        • That’s right, hun. You don’t have a problem *slips you the AA meeting times*

          • RhetoricalReverie

            LMAO! *hangs head and takes pamphlet*

      • It’s not alcoholism. It’s mommy’s medicine!

    • Kat

      Exactly…dessert has like a 50% makeup and is never below $10 for a spoonfull of air. Eat you a lil Debbie on the way home.

      • Tyrell Holmes

        lmaoooo…..Lil Debbie’s on deck in the car!!!

    • Kas

      I have a friend and his wife who roll through town once or twice a year. They always want to get together with a few of us and insist on picking up the tab. I’m cool with that because I don’t turn down free $hit. But it’s happened so much that I started feeling guilty. So their last time through, I tell my wife we are going to have to pay, which she agrees is the right thing to do. And I was really going to pay even as I watching the liquor pour and the bottles (plural) of wine empty. So just as I’m ready to ask for the check, they announce they have a special bottle of wine coming to finish off the night, Opus One. Maybe next time, I will finally pick up the check.

  • OMG I hate that. EVERY. TIME.the bill comes it’s a fiasco. I’M usually the one who ends up comping the extra $20 no one understands. I can’t deal. last time I went out to a birthday thing, some fool ordered up like 12 shots of patron…for the table…but on her own accord and then was looking like “how did we spend $80 on patron?” -_____________________________________________- get all the way away from me.

    • miss t-lee

      12 shots? And then convenient amnesia?
      Nope.

      • LOL I’m like “Never Again” because…why are you looking all perplexed? You know what you did!

        • miss t-lee

          Exactly.

    • MissMiamiHeatNation

      I know my folks. I let the waiter know immediately SEPARATE CHECKS, MA’AM/SIR

    • Tyrell Holmes

      my ex did that ish before…we are at one of MY coworkers bday dinner…she didn’t know ANY of these people…I had just got to that job so I barely knew them…the waitress comes and she orders everyone (maybe about 8 people) a shot of patron at the table…when i tell you i gave her the “Kobe death stare” (see attached vid)…i was PISSED…like you don’t even know these people…and since I’m your man i’m paying for this large bill…and she knows i HATE patron….let’s just say the ride home didn’t go too well for her

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EwFM15L4mQI

      • Kas

        Flossing on someone else’s dime, always a classic.

    • KB

      That’s when they catch a two-piece in the parking lot.

    • Kas

      On the other hand $80 for 12 shots of patron is quite the bargain.

      • LKNMRE

        I was gonna say the same. What’s that, like, 7 per shot? Where y’all live?

      • Not where I live

    • Friend needs better taste in tequila.

      • [Not my] friend needs to pay her bills.

  • Also, recently I’ve pulled the waiter aside early and just been like “hey boss, my check is separate” Sometimes I can read the crowd and I know it will be an issue…and when the check comes I would like to pay my bill and be out. Not tryna hang around for 30 minutes while everyone decides they are suddenly a licensed CPA.

    • miss t-lee

      Smart.

    • Stanley

      I thought I was the only one who did that lol. Or sometimes, I’ll come a little early and order my food and drinks at the bar. It comes out a little earlier than everyone elses, but hey.

      • RaeNBow

        That’s expert level.

        • Eleanorbblake1

          “my room mate Lori Is getting paid on the internet 98$/hr”..,n….,……!cn161ctwo days ago grey MacLaren P1 I bought after earning 18,512 DoIIars..it was my previous month’s payout..just a little over.17k DoIIars Last month..3-5 hours job a day…with weekly payouts..it’s realy the simplest. job I have ever Do.. I Joined This 7 months. ago. and now making over. hourly 87 DoIIars…Learn. More right Here !cn161n:?:?:???? http://GlobalSuperJobsReportsEmploymentsPartsGetPayHourly$98…. .??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??::::::!cn161n….,.

        • Queenmcarr1

          “my room mate Lori Is getting paid on the internet 98$/hr”…..!cs24ctwo days ago grey MacLaren P1 I bought after earning 18,512 DoIIars..it was my previous month’s payout..just a little over.17k DoIIars Last month..3-5 hours job a day…with weekly payouts..it’s realy the simplest. job I have ever Do.. I Joined This 7 months. ago. and now making over. hourly 87 DoIIars…Learn. More right Here !cs24n:?:?:???? http://GlobalSuperJobsReportsEmploymentsAeroGetPayHourly$98…. .??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??::::::!cs24n….,.

    • NoPlaysOff

      This is so real! My wife and I make this a point individually and collectively no matter where we go. We know our friends. That way, we can slip out whenever

      • Marie Tyree


        “Janet(my room mate)’s aunt is getting paid on the internet 98Dollars/hr.”….!ia35c
        two days ago black McLaren P3 I bought after earning 18,512 Dollars,,,it was my previous month’s paycheck.just a little over.17k Dollars Last month.3-5 hours job a day…with weekly payouts..it’s realy the simplest. job I have ever Do.. I Joined This 7 months. ago. and now making over. hourly 87 Dollars… Learn. More right Here!ia35c:?:?:???? http://GlobalSuperJobsReportsEmploymentsJumpGetPayHourly98…. .??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??:??::::::!ia35c…….

    • NonyaB

      Exactly. I ask for separate check at the start, if necessary, tell ’em I gotta leave early.

    • swagchef

      best comment i’ve seen in a while! especially the last sentence LMAO!

  • Skegeeaces

    LOL @ “stomach doing the A-town stomp”

More Like This