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The Color Of Honey

Who should pay on a dinner date?

--Ms. Understanding

IF YOU consider yourself a man's equal, your equality shouldn't vaporize when the check comes. This doesn't mean that you (or he) should pull out an abacus and divide the bill down to the penny or bicker about who ate the lion's share of the calamari. Instead, on a first date, the person who did the inviting should pay in full. It's like throwing a party: Unless you were raised in a cave, you probably wouldn't demand that your guests cough up $13.79 at the door for their share of the food and booze.

Say your first date was the guy's treat. On your second date, let the words, "I'll get that!" trip off your lips, and be fast about grabbing the check. (Review your CPR training beforehand, in case it's the first time your date has ever heard a woman speak those words.) From then on, casually alternate who pays -- "give and take" instead of "take and take." If, however, you're seeing a man who frequents restaurants beyond the capacity of your penny-jar, scratch that. Ask him out often to places and events within your budget, and pick up the tab. The bottom line? Look for a man to be your boyfriend, not your bank.

Copyright ©2000, Amy Alkon, from her syndicated column, Ask The Advice Goddess, which appears in 60 papers across the U.S. and Canada. All rights reserved.