Fancy restaurants, dinner parties, and catered Dances and Balls have a Dress Code. If the date is for anything more than fast food and a flick, expect this trope to come into play. The couple in question can be teens, twenty-somethings, or a happily married couple treating themselves to a night on the town.
Stereotypically, the girl in a couple takes longer to get ready for the date than the guy, leaving him to cool his heels while she finishes getting ready.
There are usually three common reasons that the woman takes so long to get ready:
One: it's an expected social more as much as it is a trope, because in the case of teens, it gives the family a chance to get to know the Love Interest of their girl.
Two: the man generally has less required of him to be ready for a night out.
Women have beauty regimens that can and do take hours. The more formal the event, the more complicated and time consuming preparation is for the woman.
Three: in addition to the ordinary grooming and dressing rituals women incur for a date night, The woman might also plan on pulling a Big Entrance featuring: a Grand Staircase Entrance because She Cleans Up Nicely in a Pimped-Out Dress where Everything's Better with Sparkles, so as to stun her date into speechlessness.
The same is also true of She Is All Grown Up if this date is the start of a Childhood Friend Romance or Childhood Marriage Promise. This approach is particularly effective if the girl is usually a tomboy or if they haven't seen each other since they were scrawny tweens.
Oftentimes, the guy waiting for his date is getting the If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her... speech from her dad, her nine brothers, her best friends, etc. If they're teenagers, the dad may also remind the young man of his daughter's curfew. He may intimidate the date with his own size if he's a Papa Wolf who wants to make absolutely certain nobody harms a hair on his little girl's head. He may intimidate the boy waiting with his impressive collection of guns, swords, rare magic items, kennel of giant mutant dogs, etc.
The upshot of this trope for the man, is that he gets a chance to relax (or not) before he gets into the party environment. He also doesn't have to worry about himself or the girl being Underdressed for the Occasion. Variations are common and can include Tacky Tuxedo, which means some kind older person will take advantage of the girl's extended prep time and rush the young man out to find him an outfit that won't humiliate him and his date, preventing a Snobs Vs Slobs situation.
It is not unheard of that there are gender-flipped or same-sex versions, but the date causing the wait is almost Always Female.
This trope may follow The Promposal.
This trope is commonly associated with
- The Prom/High-School Dance
- Women's Mysteries, since men don't usually know or care about all the multiple details of a woman's preparation for her glamorous appearance.
Also occasionally found in the company of
- Know Your Vines - for when a formal occasion's etiquette calls for the guy to bring a corsage to his date.
Not to be confused with Stood Up, where the dates are meeting at a neutral location rather than the home of the woman doing the elaborate preparations.
- Archie Comics: Archie is sometimes kept waiting by Veronica or other dates.
Girl: "Oh daddy, Archie can afford to wait."Dad: "Well, maybe he can afford it but I can't!" (as Archie raids the refrigerator)
- In one short joke, with an anonymous girl, her Dad announces that her date is here.
- Inverted and subverted in Xenophilia - Rainbow Dash expects that Lero will take a long time to get ready, but he surprises her by only taking a few minutes.
- Referenced and played with in Titanic as Molly Brown takes pauper Jack to be fitted for a proper tux since after "saving Rose", he has been invited to dine with the upper crust. He wasn't really waiting for his date though he had his eye on the already-engaged Rose.
- Homer's The Odyssey details how Penelope, acting regent of Ithaca as the wife of Odysseus, kept a bevy of suitors housed and fed in a reception hall while waiting at least nine years for her husband to return home from the Trojan War. Almost all of these suitors were opportunists, social climbers, wannabes or straight-up mooches, leeching off the Ithaca treasury. Greek custom of the time forbade Penelope from shooing them away, as that would be an affront to Zeus, however she also remained circumspectly distant from them, allowing only servants to content them.
- Referenced in Harry Potter: Hermione Granger shows up at the Yule Ball looking fabulous with her normally frizzy and unkempt hair beautiful, coiffed, and well behaved. Hermione herself explains that she only did it for a special occasion because all the preparation, even with the magical assistance of Sleekeasy's, takes too much time.
- MAD: In Lighter Side of..., this appeared at least twice:
- One had a teenage boy picking up his date; Dad said she'd be ready in a few minutes. Meanwhile, "Would you like to play a nice leisurely game of chess or two?"
- In another, a husband is waiting for his wife to get ready. When she is finally ready, the husband takes off his coat because "I gotta shave again."
- One staged photo in Playboy style guide section implies this, in that the man of the couple has nothing more to do than adjust his gold cufflinks. The woman, however, is still in her slip, facing a closet full of clothes, unable to decide what to wear.
- The Kinks: In "Come Dancing" by, where he describes his sister's social calendar.
- The first verse of Eric Clapton's "Wonderful Tonight" is about this, with the subtext of "Yes, baby, you look wonderful. Now can we PLEASE get going?"
- Prince and Sheena Easton "U Got The Look" plays with the trope and subverts it with this verse:
''You got the lookYou must a tookA whole hour just to make up your face babyClosin' time, ugly lights,Everybody's inspectedBut you are a natural beauty unaffectedDid I say an hour?My face is redI stand corrected''
- Brad Paisley's "Waitin' on a Woman" has an old man relating all the times he's waited on his wife, starting with their first date where she was ready to go half an hour after he showed up to pick her up.
- Whateley Universe: As mentioned by Aquerna in Straight from the Squirrel's Mouth (Chapter 10):
Jerry wasn't picking her up until five forty for their date, and she didn't need two hours to get ready this time, because she already shaved her legs, and filed her fingernails and toenails, and did three coats of polish on her toenails, and picked out her outfit. So all she needed to do was just showering and washing her hair and styling her hair and getting dressed and putting on just the right amount of makeup and then doing her nails. She figured all Jerry did was take a quick shower and get dressed, because that was pretty much what her dad did when he was taking her mom out. She didn't mind that guys didn't need hours to get ready, she just couldn't figure out why her dad didn't seem to know her mom needed a lot more time, because they had been married like forever.
- Epic Rap Battles of History: Briefly touched upon in Adam's verse in Adam vs. Eve:
You call it complex, but yo, I'd call you a mess, you take two hours to come, three more to get dressed!
- Tom and Jerry: Averted and Played for Laughs in "Solid Serenade". Tom goes with a bass fiddle to pitch woo to a pretty female kitty. This kitty is seen in silhouette in her boudoir tweezing her eyebrows. However, once Tom starts his rendition of "Is You Is Or Is You Ain't," the kitty power-primps herself in less than five seconds, and emerges ever-so-elegantly onto her balcony to be serenaded.
- Inverted in Star vs. the Forces of Evil. Tom Lucitor and Star Butterfly both have magic to assist when they dress up, so it's instantaneous. Marco Diaz is a mere mortal, and has had mishaps when accepting Star's offers of magical shortcuts. So he goes the mundane way, making his friends wait for him.
- This is mentioned in the Eight Simple Rules For Dating My Daughter:
Rule Seven: As you stand in my front hallway, waiting for my daughter to appear, and more than an hour goes by, do not sigh and fidget. If you want to be on time for the movie, you should not be dating. My daughter is putting on her makeup, a process which can take longer than painting the Golden Gate Bridge. Instead of just standing there, why don't you do something useful, like changing the oil in my car?