I had a physicsy evening last night with my dear friend S., the mildly creepy grad student from my lab, and the grad student who's been lending me the bad fantasy novels. The three of them decided on a dinner out after spending much of the weekend trapped at work in offices in the physics building, and S. suggested that they ask me along even though I wasn't there for the inception of the plan since I spend my time in a basement lab rather than upstairs having fun with them. Bad fantasy novel guy had offered to treat us girls, but S. and I resolved to pay our own way.
If we'd let him pay, then we'd have to reciprocate, and thus we'd be committed to more dinners. Plus, paying for someone of the opposite sex has overtones of dating, which this definitely wasn't since the guy from my lab is engaged (not that that keeps him from occasionally hitting on S.) and S. is seeing someone. I'd figured that we'd just casually ask for separate checks, but then bad fantasy novel guy suggested we go to the swanky Italian place downtown.
S. and I conferred briefly and agreed that that was somewhat beyond our broke college student, so I told him, "I don't think we can afford to eat there.
"But I can afford it," he replied
"But we can't.
"But I can."
This went on for quite a while before he gave up and settled on a much more reasonably priced Thai restaurant, where a good time was had by all, even your socially awkward correspondent. (For the record, I would have been less awkward if S. hadn't informed me that she wants to fix me up with bad fantasy novel guy. Not that it's the world's worst idea, but he doesn't seem interested.)
It was a bit like a good day at lunch in the junior high cafeteria. At the table nearest ours, a group of giggly sorority types drove us slightly crazy, but I'm sure they thought that we, with our talk of pirates vs. ninjas, discussion of whether it is possible to weaponize a plastic drinking straw, and Star Trek references were equally weird, if we entered their consciousness at all.