“So between the 6 of us, it’s $17 each,” she said.
I hesitated, mentally calculating how much I enjoyed the last hour of company. Despite being ethnically Chinese, my ties to mainland China are nonexistent. Being polite, I remained silent and earnest through conversations of parents working hard during the Cultural Revolution and a broad sweeping statement of Chinese Americans who succeeded because of natural selection. I endured yuppie subjects about dancing until late at night and alcohol consumption. And worse off, dinners scheduling without me and people I didn’t know. But the most poignant conversation was about inviting people to events. “I only invite people who know at least 4 people invited,” one said.
I had pressed my lips together and continued a seemingly polite silence.
When the bill came, one decided to declare the split of $17. I felt the sear of inequality rip through my soul and spoke up. “Your fruit salad is $16,” I pointed out and stared at her half-eaten fruit salad, “Then your orange juice is $5. My dish was $11.95.”
“Well, I have overpaid in the past,” she defended herself.
“I am sorry that I am fussy about this,” I replied. “I have had instances where I overpaid $30.”
I wanted to add that I didn’t enjoy the company and will unlikely ever want to eat with this group. Silence descended in the group. I resisted the temptation to increase the awkwardness and digitally paid my friend the amount I owed.