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20-40-60 Etiquette: Does location matter on a dinner date?

QUESTION: What do you think if a gentleman asks you to lunch but takes you to a hospital buffet?

CALLIE'S ANSWER: Ha! Does he work at the hospital? Was he seeing a friend or is that just where he decided to take you? I loved Luby's so much, I used to have my birthday dinner there. Hopefully the food was good and the conversation was great!

LILLIE-BETH'S ANSWER: I think I need more context. Is he trying to impress you? (That might not be the right way.) Is it a new relationship or have you been going out awhile? Did you two connect in a conversation over how much you loved cafeterias? (I loved cafeterias and miss them, especially our local ones — Queen Anne’s, Dodson’s and Lady Classen come to mind.) Are you worried about germ spread from a hospital salad bar during this pandemic? Is there a message he is trying to send? Some of our hospital cafeteria food here in Oklahoma City is really good, although this doesn’t really seem like a good place for a date, especially a first one. However, he might just be craving something there that he wants to share with you, or there might be other reasons he is taking you there. This might be a good way to practice communicating with him and ask him a question — “this seems like an unusual date; what made you think of a hospital cafeteria?” His answer might surprise you. I might want to know the answer, too.

HELEN'S ANSWER: That is a great question! He must think the food is really good there. But, I would ask him if there was a reason for him to choose the hospital for lunch. Does he have a doctor's appointment after your date? Did he think they were having something he'd like to eat on that day? Does he volunteer there?

If the food is spectacular, then you really might enjoy going there again. If not, there are other great places in Oklahoma City for a lunch date.

GUEST'S ANSWER: Yvette Walker, assistant dean of the University of Oklahoma’s Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication, and a former chair of Media Ethics at University of Central Oklahoma: Wow. This is a new one. I can see why you would have been very surprised. Does the gentleman work at the hospital or was he visiting a patient? If so, I can see that his schedule might have forced him into this narrow choice.

Still, he should have warned you that's where you were going and I might question his judgment. If there was no reason for him to be at the hospital, I'd seriously question his motives.

Since 2009, Callie, Lillie-Beth and Helen have written this generational etiquette column. They also include guest responses from a wide range of ages each week. So many years later, Callie is 20-plus; Lillie-Beth is 40-plus and Helen is 60-plus. To ask an etiquette question, email