Man balks as first date runs up dinner bill of US$750

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A woman was left behind in a Chinese restaurant after she ordered expensive food on her first date. Photos: Asia Times, Wikimedia Commons

How much would you be willing to pay for dinner with a first date? There was heated discussion on a widely circulated Weibo post this week that gave a glimpse into modern Chinese dating.

It started with a friend introducing a 29-year-old foreign-educated Chinese man to a pretty 31-year-old single lady, and they met for dinner at a decent restaurant with Cantonese cuisine.

The trouble started with a generous opening line from the man, telling his date not to worry about holding down the cost of her meal.

The lady took his words seriously. She quickly ordered 10 shrimp sashimi at a price of 298 yuan (US$44) each and other expensive items such as geoduck clams and bird’s nest.

Shocked, the man tried to stay calm and chat for another couple of minutes before saying he had to go to the washroom. But he never came back.

The lady had to foot the bill herself for a whopping 4,879 yuan, or $750.

The story sparked a spirited discussion on whether one would pay or walk away in the above situation. Initial netizen reaction pointed fingers at the woman for unreasonably thinking it was a dinner buffet to be paid for by her new acquaintance. Some also sympathized with the man for having the guts to walk away, because most Chinese men without a foreign education would have been dumb enough to pay the bill, they said.

The story did not stop here, though, as more details were revealed.

First came descriptions of the couple’s background. The woman was good-looking and earned a monthly income of only around 7,000 yuan. The man enjoyed an annual income of $100,000 in the banking sector and lived in his own house in California.

The man, about 165 centimeters tall, recently went back to China for a short visit for the purpose of finding a wife with “good genes”. He asked the lady to pick the place, saying he was fine with everything and she did not need to skimp on her menu choices.

The story did not stop there, as different print and online media in China picked up the story and added more details.

Later on, to help his erstwhile date cover the cost of the meal, through his friend who had arranged the dinner date paid the woman 2,000 yuan, which was what he had originally thought the dinner bill would come to.

But she was not satisfied. She asked the friend to send the leftover shrimp sashimi to the man and ask for another 2,000 yuan. The friend  became frustrated, as the leftover food was obviously no good for a meal.

The lady cried and begged for more money, fearing that she would  not be able to afford the minimum payment on her next credit-card billShe even offered to sell the leftover food to the friend, whom she thought was responsible for the farce.

Finally, the friend, after being frequently disturbed by the lady, exposed the whole story on social media. His last words were: “I am going crazy, really crazy.”

Now we understand the wisdom of an old Chinese proverb: Never be a matchmaker, in order to benefit your next three generations.

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