|Photo: Google image search with an assist from my shitty photoshop skills|
Eater, ever my muse, just ran a little blurb on a fake app called "Equipay," which won a comedy hackathon for its ability to "split the cost of a meal in accordance with gender and racial income inequalities." The app, while hilarious, gave me a feeling similar to what would happen if the dude in the picture above came to life and ran his nails across the entire length of that chalkboard.
I'm all for equality, but when it comes to dining out with friends (or anyone, for that matter), as soon as that padded leather folder hits the table, the equation should be:
Individual Contribution = (Total / Number of Diners) + tip
And it should be done without hesitation. Alternatively (as pointed out by a few readers), one person can pick up the whole thing and take a pass the next go-around. The equation should never involve pulling out calculators to determine how much one owes for their half of the one loaded potato skin they ate from the appetizer sampler platter plus the harvest salad with chicken and strawberries plus the bite they had of Steve's burger minus the bite of grilled chicken they gave to Rob.
I understand that money may be tight, or you may not drink, or animal proteins aren't your thing even though you showed up in a leather jacket. But if you're out to have a good time, why ruin it with math? Not to mention the server who has to deal with your bullshit accounting.
Here's how I think of it. It's all about game theory. You approach the situation knowing you're going to split the check evenly, so you do one of two things. Keep the bill at a minimum by not drinking booze and ordering cheap entrees, or maximize your bounty by ordering expensive shit knowing that your portion will be supplemented by your fellow diners. Or, you could not be a dick and just eat and drink like a regular human and not worry about what's happening around the table. And if you happen to feel guilty because you ordered the 96oz. bone-in ribeye topped with a small fishing vessel's worth of lobster meat, then take it upon yourself to offer to pay a smidge more.
But at the end of the day, just split the fucking check evenly. Please. It'll make your friends hate you less and want to dine out with you more often. Buen provecho.