Predetermined and Preconceived Expectations (My Take on Encores, Bartering, and Who Pays for Dinner)

Yes, the title is redundant.  But there isn’t a more appropriate way to describe how ridiculous some of our modern traditions are.

Since the 7th grade, I have been to more concerts than I can count; starting from  when Christian rock music was still awesome (from 1992 to 1998) with now defunct bands like dc talk and Audio Adrenaline, to current favorites like Guster and John Mayer, to class acts like Michael Buble.  I love music and I love concerts.  (Yes, there are people who don’t actually like music at all.  They are the ones who say they like all music, including both rap and Country equally.)

After you’ve been to a few concerts, you become overaware of how virtually every concert will end:  After the “last song” is finished, the band hurries off the stage while saying “Good night (enter name of city where the concert is), you’ve been great!”  But the lights stay off in the auditorium or arena.  This gives the necessary opportunity for the audience to cheer “Encore!” or “We want more!” until the band predictably returns to the stage to perform a few more songs- where they typically include at least one acoustic version of one of their songs and also one of the band’s most notable songs they conveniently left out of the main set.

Fact: Encores are lame.  I say either [crap] or got off the pot.

In my mind, this concept clearly relates to the mostly un-American tradition of bartering.  During my first summer teaching English in Thailand, I paid full price for souvenirs.  If a price tag had said that an imposter Hard Rock Café: Bangkok t-shirt would cost me 7 or even 10 bucks, I paid it.  Because that sounded pretty reasonable to me.  But by the end of that first summer, as Thai friends starting accompanying me, I learned that the asking price was not meant to be taken seriously.  If the asking price was $10, the after-barter price was typically as low as $5 or even $3.50.

As an American, I had been used to finding my own way to negotiate prices in America: With coupons or Internet specials, or simply just “price shopping” until I found the store with the cheapest price.  I pride myself in never paying full price for anything if I can help it.  But in Thailand and in so many Third World and developing countries, there are no coupons or Internet specials.  Instead, you barter with the merchant.  Otherwise, you get hosed.

Unnecessary map of Koh Samui, Thailand

Granted, bartering does indeed exist in America.  Like when you buy a car, go to a garage sale, or buy something off of Craig’s List.  But typically it’s not worth my time to do business that way.  I’d rather spend my time finding the product somewhere else where the price is firm and already low.  Otherwise, I will not be an active consumer.

Fact: Bartering is lame.  Instead of getting involved with the predictable “buyer asks too low a price, seller asks too high a price” banter, I will simply find another way to buy the product.

Lastly in my trilogy of examples is the awkward game of “who’s paying for dinner?”  If I am going to buy someone’s dinner, I am very clear with them up front before we arrive at the restaurant: “I am taking you to dinner.  I really appreciate how you (I name the reason I am buying their meal, even if it’s as simple as thanking them for their general kindness and friendship).”  There is no guessing to be done.  I am buying their meal.

That means when the waiter comes by the table when it’s time to pay up and asks, “Will this be together or separate?” there is no grabbing for the bill by both me and the other person.  I don’t like the feeling that I owe someone for anything unless there’s a good reason for it.  So this whole idea that “you bought my meal this time, so I’ll buy yours next time”, it doesn’t work for me.  Because then I have that “IOU” hanging over my head.  Let’s make it simple.  If you want to buy my meal, tell me up front.  As I will do the same.  Otherwise, it’s assumed that we’re paying separately and the only bill anyone grabs for at the end is their own.

Fact: I can’t truly enjoy a meal if I think there’s a chance that I am expected in the least to grab the other person’s bill.

I live a simple life where clear-cut expectations make me happy.  This is my version of reality.



How to Wear Dress Pants, If You’re a Guy: Don’t Wear Them With Sneakers and Avoid Khakis

Despite what you heard, don’t wear khakis.  Just because these men’s pants are classic, it doesn’t mean they’re timeless.  In fact, they’re starting to represent a dull and generic image for men’s attire.

Some articles of clothing go with anything, like Chuck Taylor’s.  Then there are specimens like Hawaiian shirts, that arguably go with anything simply because they clash with everything, technically meaning they go with everything.  And then there are khaki pants, which truly look good with anything they’re paired with, in theory.

But not for me.  I’m very particular when it comes to wearing khakis:

1)     They’re the same color as my legs, so I kinda feel like I’m not wearing pants at all.

2)     Because of their good reputation (“you can’t go wrong with khaki’s”) and popularity, they are a bit boring by now.  It’s assumed that a man automatically looks better because he’s wearing tan pants.  I say, not creative enough.  Deduct one point unless worn in moderation.

3)     Despite popular belief, they don’t truly look good with anything.

What has put these thoughts in my head?  Surely just random observances over the last twelve years:

1)     In high school, every Friday the football coach had all the football players wear khaki pants, a white dress shirt, and preferably a tie.  But  many of them wore running shoes.  It came across as predictable and forced to me (which it indeed was).  You want to look nice?  At least change the shoes.

2)     In the movie 40 Year-Old Virgin, Andy (the lead character played by Steve Carell) wears khaki pants in almost every seen.  His attire is most noticeably awful when he first goes to the night club wearing a yellow polo and khakis.  Nerdy, man.  Nerdy.  Same thing in Sideways with Miles (played by Paul Giamatti).

3)     In the past 15 years, khakis and polo shirts have become the official uniform for employees of places like Best Buy.  So now khakis are starting to represent a dull, generic work uniform.

Instead of khakis, try this. Note: Black shoes with black pants. Not brown shoes.

Khakis have become part of a stereotyped outfit of an outdated man from the year 2000: Khaki pants, faded polo shirt, cell phone holder on belt.

Noted, there is a difference between what a man wears to work and what he wears to every other public events.  I know for myself, I don’t care that much what my coworkers see my wearing as long as I don’t look like a slouch.  So yes, I do resort to polo shirts and once every week or two, I’ll wear khakis.

But for many, work isn’t as a professional environment as we often pretend for it to be.  I don’t take as good of care on the clothes I wear day in and day out to work.  Who cares if they’re faded or a little wrinkled?

Bottom line: For a man to truly dress nicely, and appear to be modern yet not trying too hard, he should simply try doing so sans khaki pants.

How?  Charcoal colored pants.  Dark brown pants.  Slate (very dark blue/gray) pants.  But not tan.  Heck, even dark jeans can look better than khakis when done right.

P.S.  If you must resort to wearing khaki pants in an attempt to look nice, do not be temped to wear a navy blazer or jacket with it.  That’s for CEO’s who are 61 years old and don’t realize that it’s no longer cool.  Wearing a navy jacket with khaki pants is for guys still wearing Levi’s jeans similar to Jerry Seinfeld in 1994.

And one more thing… Now that you’ve read my take on pants, why not read my perspective on being a dad?  That’s right- parenting from a dad’s point of view.  I have been documenting my thoughts as a dad since the week we found out my wife was pregnant.  I formally invite you now to read my “dad blog” by clicking on the link below:

dad from day one