The Squid and the Wile 

Does a pricey dinner date entitle a man to any, uh, benefits?

by Damian WinthropI'm not saying I was entitled to squid pro quo or anything, but I spent about $150 on dinner for two and went home to disappointment for one.
Love advice from the Scene's resident literary lotharioDear Damian: I had a dinner date last weekend with a super-hot blonde who's exactly my type: curvy, funny, bookish, looks like Jodie Foster in The Brave One (without the gun). I thought things were going great. A calamari salad, some soft-shell crabs with lemon aioli and a fennel-rubbed poussin later, though, I found myself on her doorstep—and left without even so much as a peck on the cheek. I'm not saying I was entitled to squid pro quo or anything, but I spent about $150 on dinner for two and went home to disappointment for one. Was I wrong to expect a bit more, um, gratitude?Frustrated in FranklinDear F-in-F: To be frighteningly, fearlessly frank, Frustrated in Franklin, I'd need to know more details to give you a comprehensive answer. There are so many nuances to this issue. First off (and let's hope you're not, as women hate that), did your date offer to pay? If so, take that as a signal that the likelihood of your own fennel being rubbed is minimal, and there's virtually no chance you'll be getting any more poussin that evening. She may feel that she likes you, but needs to get to know you before any more physical intimacy takes place, and thus she wants to head off any potential expectation of prid squo prod, or whatever you call it. (And by the way, if you haven't tried the prid squo prod at Siam Cuisine, it's fabulous.) And if she offered to pay, you can assume you've found yourself a real catch—neither inconsiderate nor presumptuous, and not a slave to old-fashioned notions of gender roles. (Of course, if that's the case, getting her into that Britney outfit stashed in your closet may be that much harder.)Now if she didn't offer to pay, then she owes you. But what exactly she owes you varies on a sliding scale, depending on what city you're in. For instance, a $150 dinner for two in L.A. or Manhattan might get you a peck on the cheek at most—whereas in Topeka, it should get you laid plus a 20-minute massage and transmission tune-up to boot. Let me get out my copy of Doyle's Guide to Dinner-to-Dalliance Ratios in America's Major Cities, and we'll see what it's worth.... OK, looks like $150 in Nashville entitles you to a half-hour of heavy petting along with several innocuous brushes against the still-clothed private part of your choice. Oh're in Williamson County. Let's see.... It says here that you deserve “a brief tour of the McMansions, but no access to the cul-de-sac.” It should be noted that, while these guidelines may be conventional wisdom, they are in no way a guarantee of said activity. I can tell you from experience, physical interaction is always at the woman's discretion—and don't try to use Doyle's Guide as a defense in any sort of criminal trial or civil suit, unless you want to clean the Ellington Parkway in an orange vest in between sensitivity-training classes. Fortunately, it gave me fodder for one of my most talked-about columns: “How to Pick Up Women While Cleaning the Highway in an Orange Vest.” Every new challenge presents an opportunity—and there are few dates hotter than a Smyrna divorcée with three misdemeanors and a grudge against her ex. Now if I could just find my damn Rolex....Need advice from the world's greatest lover? Email


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