There’s a great episode of “the Sopranos” where Meadow brings her boyfriend Finn to dinner with her dad in a restaurant and Finn grabs the check. Tony’s response is light on the gratitude:
You’re lucky you don’t get your head handed to you. Let’s get something straight: you eat, I pay. When we’re family, you pay.
He throws some bills down on the table. Finn looks to Meadow for guidance and, bless her venal soul, she sighs, “Just take the money.”
Finn is dippier than a country road. In trying to do a Good Thing, he forgot that, just as you don’t get involved in land wars in Asia, you don’t get into a dick-swinging contest with your GF’s dad and/or the biggest mob boss in the NY metro area, especially not in public and when said GF, his daughter, is watching. What if we’re talking regular dads, not Godfathers, though? What if you go out to dinner with your parents, or your partners’ parents? How do you decide whether to pick up the tab? Etiquette dictates that if you invite, you pay, and vice versa, but what did etiquette ever have to do with the fraught-but-loving relationships between parents and children?