“How much do I owe you?” my new friend asked me, the first time I picked up lunch for the both of us.
“Don’t worry about it,” I said. I had, after all, offered to get her something when I was headed out to pick up my lunch. And it was fun to eat with her and chat. It was a good week. I had the funds. No big deal.
“Are you sure?” she said.
“Are you sure?” she said again.
A long pause. “Well okay, if you insist.”
“You can get me some other time,” I say. And as I do, I don’t really expect it to happen. And I pick up lunch here and there — while we’re stuck working long hours on a project, and it’s easy for me to sneak off and get food. Every time I tell her not to worry about it and that she can just pick up something else later. But I don’t really expect her to. (I try to keep my expectations re: other people squarely in check.)
But we’re going out to get some Korean at this nice little place a while later, one of the first times I venture out in ages (been down and out for the count due to some chronic illness issues; I didn’t pick that hermit life, it chose me), and I’m pleased she asked me to come with. Pleased that I get to check this new (to me) place out. That I don’t have to drive.
I’m so pleased by all of this that I almost miss it when she’s paying for my meal.
“Aww… you don’t have to,” I say.
She reminds me of the other times I picked up lunch. And I grin.
And as I’m eating the lunch with her, she’s wonderful company, yes, but the meal tastes so good. And it occurs to me then that this is why I rarely split the bill with friends. Instead, we take turns picking up the tab.
And that’s because the pain of picking up a friend’s tab is less than the joy I feel when it’s my own turn to get a free meal.
It’s my favorite thing about sharing, really. When everyone takes turns doing it, life is truly wonderful.