In the opening scene from Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, a loving young couple, Pumpkin and Honey Bunny, strike on an enterprising way of settling their bill at the diner.
Whipping out their .32-caliber pistols, Pumpkin cheerfully declares: “Everybody be cool, this is a robbery!”
To which his lady love adds: “Any of you fuckin’ pricks move and I’ll execute every motherfuckin’ last one of you.”
If only a recent dinner date hooked up via an online service had ended so amicably.
The couple in question failed to settle the bill for their first meal, a HK$2,200 (US$280) affair at a Japanese restaurant in the Mong Kok district of Kowloon.
It seems the couple began to quarrel over the bill – about HK$1,200 of which was for liquor, mostly sake. The quarrel quickly descended into a full on fight. Police were called. All very messy.
But what sparked the spat? First dispatches from the front had put it squarely on Him. The 37-year-old beau had asked his date, 38, to split the bill in what is now known as the American, but was originally the Dutch system.
But Simon Wong Kit-lung, owner of the Gyukaku restaurant, offered a different version. On his Facebook, he said the lady offered to split the bill, but the gentleman declined. She pulled out a HK$500 note. He took umbrage and tore it up.
They were both emotional people, Wong said.
Shortly after posting his message, the restaurant launched a HK$498 meal set for couples. Netizens praised the marketing gimmick.
Many Hong Kong people now happily observe the bill sharing custom, especially among the younger set.
HSBC (PayMe) and Standard Chartered (O! ePay) launched peer-to-peer payment systems that allow money transfers among individuals to settle payments like restaurant bills.
In most Asian countries, including Hong Kong and China, gender or social standing typically dictate who settles the bill.
Men are still expected – or expect – to pay, especially for a romantically linked dinner.
However, as we can see from the above example, in a modern city like Hong Kong, traditional lines are becoming blurred. And more so when it comes to the still-evolving customs of the internet age.
What say you, Honey Bunny?