The Palinode and I went out for supper last night to a local sushi joint. We ordered the Valentine's Day special dinner for two. They served it with a piece of smoked salmon sashimi moulded into the shape of a heart. We completely stuffed ourselves with miso soup, sunomono, sushi rolls, pork-wrapped asparagus rolls, teriyaki beef, steamed cod steaks, and yam tempura. Following that meal of ludicrous proportions, we rolled ourselves over to a local pub for a pint or two before heading home.

The Palinode covered the dinner, and I paid for the drinks afterward. That should be normal. We both work, we have our own money, and neither of us holds the proverbial purse strings, but still, there were a few raised eyebrows when I got up from the table to pay for our pints. It is 2007. Marriage need no longer be a contract primarily to create inheritors to continue the man's work or wealth and to ensure that the woman is at least financially cared for once her father is liberated of the obligation. I have the choice to work in a chosen field outside the home in order to maintain my own financial security and not to bear child after child until I experience uterine prolapse.

And so, it strikes me as odd and more than a little backward that the assumed romantic behaviour between the Palinode and I on Valentine's Day would have to include a particular financial arrangement, one that had him, the one with the sticky-out genitalia, paying for everything that I, the one with the sticky-in genitalia, consumed. We ate and drank together, and we each paid for part of the evening, because we went out together as equal people (or as equal as we can be under the present patriarchal hierarchy), and it is no more romantic for him to pay for my food than it is for me to pay for his drinks.

In a patriarchal system in which it is assumed that he has most of the financial power and an elevated social standing in comparison to the female, I can see where the confusion lies with those who raised their brows. That he would lower himself to offer me, a female, special treats that I did not necessarily have to ask for or earn makes the occasion extra special, and it reflects well upon him to use his male privilege generously to act out a mock subservience through chivalry. He did not do that, though, thank gawd. We behaved like grown-ups and fairly equal partners and each treated the other last night through the purchase of goods for consumption.

When I stood up at the pub to go and pay for our bill, I heard someone exclaim What? You're going to let her pay for your drinks?! To that I reply: Yes, he not only lets me pay for his drinks, but he even allows me speak when not spoken to. That Palinode's a modern man, indeed.