In the long list of potentially chauvinistic stuff I’m cool with cute guys doing, ordering an entree for me during dinner is one of them. It’s weird and old-timey and therefore sort of sexy in the same way that suede elbow patches can act as an aphrodisiac. But chauvinism done sexily can only work if the dude doing it is in on his own joke and is not, in fact, seriously being a female-silencing-insecure limp dick about it.
This, I’m assuming, was the case when corner-dealer-turned-corporate-hustler Jay Z ordered the “fish sandwich” while at a nice Italian dinner with author Zadie Smith. If you’re familiar with the rapper’s most recent discography, specifically the “Watch the Throne” track “Niggas in Paris,” then you’ve belted the following Kanye line into many a beer bottle:
“[Ball so hard] That shit cray, ain’t it Jay? [Ball, ball so hard] What she order? Fish filet.”
“He likes to order for people,” Smith writes in her profile of Jay Z for the most recent issue of the New York Times’ T Magazine. “Apparently I look like the fish-sandwich type.”
Am I the only one who found that a little bit, I don’t know, obvious? I’m not saying the Jiggaman was trying to elbow Smith by throwing her into the “bougie girl” category his bestie Kanye raps about in the fish-filet verse because why? But the deja-vu vernacular is too blatant to miss. Plus, like, who orders someone the fish sandwich besides maybe Ronald McDonald?
“I guess the real crime is that it reeks of awkward, amateur formality, especially considering what’s on the menu. I’ll have the chicken parm, and the lady will have a fish sandwich,” observes Kate Stoeffel over at New York Magazine.
OK, I get that. The Lil’ Rascals come to mind. Kids sitting at the big table and trying desperately to ape what all the grown ups do. But I don’t think Jay Z, who is 42 years old, a millionaire a hundred times over and a pretty cultured guy by now, was doing that with Smith. I think he was trying to give her a wink and she just went with it. Oh, you gonna go with the fish sandwich, all right, I’ll bite.
But Stoefell does hash out some good points about chivalry, and whether or not ordering for your lady friend is low-key sexist. In my opinion the answer to that is subjective; like the definition of smut according to former mayor of New York Rudy Guilliani, you know it when you see it.
Some days alls I want is a man to order me up something good so my brain can take a breather and my bum eyes don’t have to strain to read a menu by candle light. It’s actually a cool litmus test on the type of woman he might take you for: “fish sandwich” or “filet mignon.” Not to mention what great balls he has to have to even attempt to order for me in the first place. I could either smile and nod or regurgitate the history of women being silenced in the public square by a male-dominated culture seeking to shrink the female role in society as a whole.
Once I was on a date with a guy who, after reciting my order to the waitress, went into this very long diatribe on how he doesn’t take women out to dinner on the first date because they might not be “worth” it. That is sexism (and also just plain cheap-ism) at its most undisguised. Totally unaware of this, he went on to pray over our food when the plates came. Like full-on grab hands, bow your head, “Dear god” mode. I am neither religious (a fact I don’t hide) nor paternalistic. It was a lot. And I’m sort of ashamed to say we dated for months after that. It’s as if I wanted to see how far the chauvinism could go. It went far, my friends.
So what I’m trying to say is sometimes you can tell a lot about a man when your eyes are open during the public prayer over dinner. And sometimes a fish sandwich is just a filet between two pieces of white bread. Thankfully, I don’t have those issues anymore, because my boyfriend knows what I’m getting at practically every single restaurant we frequent and yet he always lets me go first and still asks even if I tell him to just order while I’m in the bathroom.
“Wait, what are you getting?”
“The same thing I always get, Pinky.”
“OK, just making sure.”
What do you guys think? Is ordering dinner for your date a smooth move or macho-ism at its worst?