March Madness, a 2 ½ week period when 64 teams via for the NCAA basketball championship, is my favorite holiday. For years I’ve taken off work to watch the second day of the first round, spending the day with friends drinking beer, eating wings and watching basketball. This year was no exception, true to tradition I spent the day with B, a girlfriend, and she invited a new guy she’d been seeing to join us around lunch time. They’d only been on two dates, and she wasn’t really sure whether she was into him or not. She didn’t tell me much about him - she wanted to wait until after he’d left so I could form my own impressions.
I formed several, most notably that he was definitely into B. Although not a basketball fan, he doggedly attempted to follow along with our bracket analysis and participate in the upsets and overtimes, which I thought was admirable. He was very different from her, though. She’s outgoing, social, animated. He seemed more reserved, almost a little socially awkward. I thought he could be more interesting with practice.
During the break in the action between the afternoon and early evening games B communicated to me via looks across the table that she was ready for her date to leave. He had only planned to stay for lunch but had made no indication that he was getting ready to head out, even telling her he was thinking he’d skip his evening theatre plans. I silently communicated back that there was no good exit strategy when you’re sitting in a bar indefinitely.
B got up to use the ladies, and about a minute later her date got up and walked over to the bar to talk to our waitress. He then headed into the crowd and appeared to be leaving the bar entirely. When our waitress headed back to our table I asked her what he had talked to her about. She said he had paid our entire tab, our several hundred dollar beer and snacks tab we’d been accruing for around seven hours. He had indeed left the bar.
I relayed this to B when she came back from the ladies. She was dumbfounded, and left a voice mail for her date thanking him for his very generous (and very unnecessary) financial contribution but wondering why he left without saying anything. He responded via text that he was sorry he had left suddenly, that he’d paid the bill, and thanked her for having invited him out.
We were at a loss to explain his behavior. B shared her additional insights into this man to try and help, including that he’s very wealthy. We don’t know whether this man felt like the appropriate thing to do was to pay our entire bill (which it wasn’t) or whether he felt like he was invited so we didn’t have to pay (which is insulting), but I hope not. We are also left to wonder if this man thought that paying the bill made up for leaving without saying goodbye, which it most certainly did not. Under no circumstances is that behavior acceptable.
We do know that we were left with the cash that our other friends had left on our table for their portion of the bill. We gave our waitress a generous tip for our last few beers and split the rest between us.
I also know that I’ve finally gotten something back for having to live through the bizarreness that is dating (albeit indirectly through B). I spent 11 hours in a bar yesterday, eating and drinking, and walked away with enough cash to pay for my taxi ride home. March Madness… It really is the most wonderful time of the year.