Posed a question that seemed black and white, I thought about it more, and realized: this question could have major implications on my character’s substance. “Would you use a gift card on a date?”
I paused then chuckled after my girlfriend jokingly asked this random as hell question. Not because the question was dumb or didn’t deserve a straight face, but because we verbally spar from time to time; and by from time to time, I mean everyday. Ninety percent of the time the impetus is a simple question. The expectation- a simple yes or no answer. The result- 30 minute conversation or troll, at best.
Would you use a gift card on a first date?
The simple answer is: it depends. The long answer is: “are you trying to get me to take you out on a date?” Her straight face implied that this wasn’t one of those, let me ask a question to lead into my real question, moments. This was a real, let me ask you a simple question to see what kind of person you are, no pressure, moments. I didn’t want this moment to sound pretentious- so, my answer couldn’t be… too “real”. If I simply said no, I might be perceived as being “too good” for the gift card. If I said yes, she might think I was tacky or cheap. This was going to be verbal sparring, chess even. So, my answer had to be a bit more cunning than a curt yes or no- I was starting to feel the pressure.
I began by saying, “if you’re a gift card enthusiast, there’s nothing wrong with gift cards, per se- they’re clutch.” And then it went left. A gift card serves a higher purpose than the flimsy, decorated card it rests its laurels on; It’s happy money, as opposed to blood diamond, workplace money… that, I need to pay back my $200,000 student loan money… that, why the hell does it cost so much to go to school in America, money. The best part is: you probably didn’t earn it, but you deserve it. You’ve slaved over a hot, office, cubicle, workplace stove, and now you’re being rewarded by some divine, Christmas, birthday money machine. “There’s nothing wrong with gift cards, except… they’re situational and bereft and are not all created equal.”
They’re there, but there’s something flimsy or science fiction or meh about them. They’re Donald Trump in a race full of candidates. They’re all rah rah now, but will have to bow out when we realize the money you’re worth is not really worth my time…awkward turtle. When you go to a convenient store, no matter how convenient or close to the checkout line, they never have to be restocked. It’s like having a wallet full of 2 dollar bills- you’re never going to restock. Skeptical that it’s even real- like, where did you get that from, bruh? It’s like having real monopoly money or like that movie In Time: money isn’t money, but if you have the time, you can just load it up whenever you run out. It’s like the crytptocurrency, BitCoin: best used in virtual situations. I don’t mind using it privately or online, but outside the matrix, in real life, It’s sort of like, Neo- trying- to- sound- sophisticated- embarrassing. He was really annoying, like, check gift card balance and it says $1.00 annoying. Plus, he sounds like he should be perpetually California surfing, but he was great in John Wick.
With gift cards you should be perpetually shopping… on Amazon… where the gift card was probably bought to begin with. As in, I wouldn’t mind purchasing used books, usb chargers or SoCal cologne, online. However, if I was going on a first date, brick and mortar, I don’t know how comfortable I’d be pulling it out, to pay for a meal in a world full of visas, black cards, and what’s in your wallet.
It’s money, but it’s not. It desires the feel of a credit card, but it doesn’t have it. It’s a black entrepreneur trying to get the approval of America or a loan- that En Vogue song- “Never Gonna Get it”. It’s like Roger Goodell constantly losing to Tom Brady in Deflategate- never “gonna” admit it. It’s like comparing Empire to Power- there’s really no comparison. Power is just too great. Empire is good, but never “gonna” get with it. There’s too many weird things going on. It’s made of the same stuff, same outsourced, we don’t abide by child labor laws, factory; but there’s just something missing- not human rights or anything crazy like that. It’s like Stephon Marbury complaining that his shoes are just as good as Jordan’s because they’re made in the same factory. It’s just not the same bruh…
Think about this: let’s say we’re going go to a restaurant, like Applebee’s. If you have a 25 dollar gift card but your meal is 37 dollars, doesn’t it just feel a bit off to present your server two cards, or cash and a card? Of course; it’s weird and uncomfortable and the opposite of impressive, like splitting the check between 4 broke people- dang that sucks; It’s like Lindsey Graham calling Obama incompetent when we’re all thinking who the hell is that guy- dang that sucks. It’s like Manny Pacquiao showing his desperation to get another shot at Floyd Mayweather- dang that sucks. It’s okay to admit to yourself that you’re without dollars or importance or capability, but when you’re finally forced to admit it to someone else, that’s a different story.
When you’re trying to impress someone , you can’t waste time on any hiccups, like perpetuating an unsuccessful leaked email scandal. A first date needs to go down as smoothly as possible, because she’s thinking about 8 years from now, and you’re thinking of this term.
But If I was going to Applebee’s…TO GO… by myself (Kevin Hart voice), no problem. I don’t know what’s on their menu, but from the commercials and my visit to one in a random west Texas town many years ago, I’ll assume it still does everything that Chili’s does- and has a very similar menu. I would get my pasta or my burger or my appetizer (don’t judge me)… to go… by myself, pay for it with my 25 dollar gift card, and be on my merry friggin’ way. I mean It’s money- designed to be spent- and you won or received it as a gift from a good friend or family. Now, you simply want to cash in, and there’s no shame in it. It’s like Donald Trump foolishly claiming that his million dollar loan from his father was no big deal- I guess bask in it.
Celebrate, but if you include that special someone in this celebration, this is how your impression gets trumped and you lose. You’ve been gift hoarding all these years- putting all of your cards in one basket, and now you have a date with that special someone. Don’t do it. That steak was Tom Brady great, but don’t reach into your wallet of cards and pull out that Ryan Mallet Applebee’s gift card man- no matter how tempting it may seem. I mean, I don’t know why you’d be there in the first place, but from the commercials something must be different (Message!).
However, there’s nothing different about a date. For millennia it’s been a ritual between two potentially special people, designed to uncover truths and intimacy. A signature or thumbprint, a date suggests making a lasting impression on a person. And the truth is, she probably will feel some type of way if you pull out that gift card instead of a bank card. It’s like that picture that was viral on social media juxtaposing Barack & Michelle to Ben Carson and what’s her face- a d@mn shame. It’s like America trying to combat Black Lives Matter with we need to fix the black community first- now that’s a d@mn shame. So don’t pull it out unless an impression has already been made- you will be judged by that cover.
On the other hand, if this gift card is a Visa gift card or an American Express gift card, well, that’s okay. It’s like an 80 degree day versus a 70 degree day- eh, that’s okay. It’s like receiving a Macy’s gift card instead of cash- I guess that’s okay. But it’s still better than a restaurant gift card, the exact opposite of Donald Trump’s toupee- inconspicuous and looks like the real thing.
Enfin, there’s no such thing as black or white, except in America for some reason- like brown is black, light brown is still black and an array of tan to light- tan colors are, I guess white, but I digress… Behind every simple yes or no is a complex racial toupee of he’s great, but not really. A gift card is a great idea if you win a work raffle or as a birthday gift. However, don’t just spend it willy nilly. If you’re by yourself, you’re Flash, Power, or Beasts of no Nation– pretty good. If you’re shopping online you’re Mike Tyson and Vick before incarceration- you’re pretty darn good. If you’re with that special someone, though, unless you’ve already made an impression, you’re Ryan Mallet- pretty darn bad. The caveat, the Visa gift card, is a quarterback who can come through in clutch and will always trump a Ryan Mallet. If this is the case you’re the Netflix movie collection- just okay, but that’ll do for a Tuesday night. The abridged version is: I would use a gift card but not on a first date, and I wouldn’t be too hasty and show my true intentions just yet. Like Donald Trump and Ryan Mallet, it’s better to use your own money to get to the big game. But if you miss this time, you might not ever get another shot-charge it to the game. This was my answer, as she looks at me and says: “WTF.”