“Dear Doctor Kim,
Is it OK to use a coupon when I take my girlfriend on a date? What about taking home leftovers?”
— Wondering in the West
I suspect that you’re nervous about being called a cheapskate, but never fear: I have several ways through this minefield.
The only ironclad rule about coupons is: never ever use a coupon on a first date. I shouldn’t have to explain this.
On other occasions, however, whether or not to use restaurant coupons depends on a few factors.
1.) What restaurant are we talking about? If it’s McDonald’s or similar dreck, who cares? (The question in this case is: what kind of man takes his girlfriend to a hellhole like that in the first place?) If it’s Morton’s or Lawry’s, however, she should appreciate being taken there at all, so use that coupon at will.
2.) At what stage are you in terms of your relationship? If it’s still in its first bloom, you may want to hold onto the coupon for a while — once you’re settled, she won’t mind because (and I can hear the feministicals wailing already) less money spent at the restaurant means more money to be spent on her.
The only thing you have to avoid is not going to any restaurant on a date unless you have a coupon — it’s the infallible mark of a terminal cheapskate, and unless your girlfriend is of a similar bent, stand by for trouble.
As for leftovers: it depends completely on the food, the portion sizes, or whose food it is.
1.) No grown human being should take home leftover fast food, of any description.
2.) If the portion sizes are of New Jersey Diner Quantity (i.e. beyond the ability of anyone not Jewish or Italian to finish in a single sitting), then go ahead: there’s no shame in it.
3.) And regardless of portion size, if it’s her food we’re talking about and she wasn’t able to finish it but enjoyed it immensely, offering to take it home is going to be well received.
By the way: attempting to take home leftovers from an all-you-can-eat buffet joint should be punishable by scourging. There are limits.