Last night, Sophia and I attended a blogger-meetup, greeting Psychotoddler and Mrs. Balabusta, who were visiting L.A. from snowy Milwaukee. Since the Psychotoddler family is kosher, we met at a kosher Chinese restaurant on Pico Blvd. Surprisingly, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be (although note to restaurant: please hire someone who knows how to make sushi. That was NOT sushi, kosher or not). Also attending the event were Dr. Bean, ball-and-chain, Brett of DadTalk, and Anne of Inland Empress.
There were spirited conversations about many things, including integrity and truth-telling when writing blog posts. The group was extremely intelligent, which, of course, made me think about my blog post for that day, which was about a “Cock Shaker.” So, I’m glad to be back here with so many of my other blogger friends who are as dumb and unsophisticated as I am.
Despite my lack of sophistication, the issue of “integrity in blogging” has been weighing on my mind today. You see, in my last post, there were quite a few joking comments about the Olive Garden chain. Although I didn’t say so directly, I insinuated in my post that I didn’t like Olive Garden. The truth is : I’ve never been to Olive Garden. I’m like the movie reviewer who gives the film “three thumbs up,” but never bothered to see the flick.
In all honesty, I just don’t like those chain restaurants — at least the ones that I have actually gone to. To give you a better understanding of my feelings, I’ve created a list of chain restaurants, in order of my hatred of the chain, from least to greatest:
The Cheesecake Factory
Today, I called Sophia.
“Sophia, I’m taking you to lunch.”
“OK, where to?”
I explained how I owed it to my readers to learn the truth about the Olive Garden, especially if I’m ever going to mention it again. So, I picked Sophia up and we drove to Olive Garden near the Del Amo Mall.
We were surprised to find such a long line for such an uninspiring place. Why were so many people here? Los Angeles has tons of excellent REAL restaurants. Maybe we were missing out on something. Maybe people were just suckers for those stupid commercials where the guy brings his authentic Italian mama to Olive Garden, and she loves it. Loves it!
Inside the restaurant, the decor was anything but “authentic.” There were some badly drawn paintings of the Italian countryside on the wall, and few bottles of Chianti were propped up here and there. “Benvenuto!” was written on the wall in the waiting area. The restaurant staff was not very authentic either, more Redondo Beach High School than Tuscany High School.
We were told that there would be a ten minute wait. This seemed a little bull-shitty, since there were seven other families waiting in front of us. Afterwards, another couple was also told that their wait would be “ten minutes.”
“How could this be?” I asked Sophia. “This made no sense. Do they just tell everyone that the wait is ten minutes? And if our wait is ten minutes, and they came after us, shouldn’t their wait be at least eleven minutes?”
Sophia and I were given this large black beeper contraption that was supposed to go crazy with lights and special effects when our table was ready.
Time passed. Twenty minutes. Sophia and I revealed to each other that we spent the morning snacking and neither of us were too hungry. But it was too late to turn back. I had to learn the truth about the elusive Olive Garden.
My hand vibrated as if I had just pulled the trigger of a 45 caliber pistol. The beeper was sending us a message: It was TIME for our reconnaissance meal.
Some girl in the Olive Garden uniform, but wearing USC socks (!) took us to our cozy table, nestled comfortably next to a large obnoxious family celebrating some bratty boy’s birthday. Before we even had a chance to open a menu, Miss USC wanted to know if we wanted anything to drink.
“We serve real Italian wine.”
We said we just wanted water. She looked disappointed, as if we had just rejected her from admittance to our sorority.
Sophia and I looked over to the birthday table to check out the food they were eating. Bland pastas, boring pizzas. Nothing looked very exciting. We were also surprised that the menu was more expensive than we expected, considering it was a “family” restaurant.
“It’s cheaper to just go to the real Italian restaurant on Torrance Boulevard.”
“I guess we’re paying for the ambiance.”
We laughed as the family started singing “Happy Birthday” to the bratty boy.
“Since we’re not too hungry, maybe we can share something.”
As I perused the attractive, flowery-designed menu, I noticed something interesting. For six bucks, you can have as much soup as you want, with three different choices of soup. For another six bucks, you can get an unlimited amount of Olive Garden’s special salad.
“Sounds good,” said Sophia. We can get one unlimited soup and one unlimited salad, and we can share it. They even give you unlimited breadsticks. I think I’m beginning to like this place.”
“Sophia, I don’t think you understand. Each unlimited soup and each unlimited salad is for one person only.”
“What do they care if we share it?”
“Because then what’s to stop ten people from coming in here and ordering one unlimited soup and one unlimited salad and just sharing it all together.”
“That’s ridiculous. Besides, it doesn’t say anywhere, “no sharing.””
“Olive Garden cannot stay in business if everyone shares the same unlimited soup.”
“The place is jammed. They’re making a fortune. No one cares if we share the soup. We’re only two people. How much soup and salad can we eat?”
“It’s stealing. It’s like downloading illegal music.”
“You download illegal music all the time.”
“That’s different. “They see you here doing it. No one sees you at home downloading music.”
“Oh, so if they don’t see you stealing it’s not a crime. You’re some “citizen” of the month!”
“I won’t download anymore music. Is that better?”
“I don’t care. Look, if you’re going to be such a stick in the mud, we’ll each get our own unlimited soup.”
“Fine, that’s best.
“But I don’t care what you say. We’re just getting one salad, I can never finish half of it.”
We ordered our meal. The waitress seemed pissed that we were such cheapo customers, and assumed she was going to get a small tip. We each ate three bowls of soup. But I wouldn’t touch the salad, which only made Sophia act like more of a temptress.
“Try it. Just take a bite.”
“Stop being such a wimp.”
Which was the exact same thing Eve told Adam.
“OK, I’ll try it. Just a second. Wait…. OK..”
I tried the salad. Sophia shook her head in disbelief.
“Did you just wait until the waitress walked away before you ate one tiny piece of lettuce, so she wouldn’t see you eating it?”
“Yes you did!”
“Fine. I don’t like to be humiliated. What if she said something. What if a spotlight went on us and voice came on saying: “Look over here everyone. This couple is stealing an unlimited salad because they were too cheap to order two unlimited salads like they were supposed to.””
“You need help. Serious help. Why don’t you blog about THIS tonight?”
“About how you were afraid of eating the salad because the nineteeen year old waitress might see you and look down at you?”
“I’m not going to do that.”
HAPPY NOW, SOPHIA?
By the way, the soup and salad (we never finished out first bowl of salad) at Olive Garden were pretty good.
So, here’s my revised list:
The Cheesecake Factory
Today on Blogebrity: As the Blog Turns