Olive garden. We have all been to one. We were mildly happy and then we went home and forgot about it. But what keeps us coming back? The mediocure breadsticks? The subpar wait staff? Kind of feeling like family?
Olive garden is like that high school boyfriend who you loved to hate. He was cute, always busy, emotionally unavailable and never had enough time for you but always wanted to be your friend.
It starts with someone in the car uttering the following statement “fuck Atkins, I want to eat the shit out of some carbs”. Then with a poorly executed 3-point turn at a busy intersection you land in the general vicinity of either olive garden, carrabbas or macaroni grill. All are similar enough to make a generalization of all chain Italian restaurants: they leave you sad and alone.
If you have chosen olive garden you have chosen the path on Oregon trail that gives you dysentery.
If you can find one of their three parking spots unoccupied then it must be after hours. Olive garden parking lots are crawling with pt cruisers and minivans with white stick figure people on them (are African American people offended by this? It seems only white folks are stupid enough to put this shit on their cars). You, father time and the 90 pound mother of three with the jogging stroller in the back are in a face off for an available parking spot. But then! You see a silver Sebring on the other end of the parking lot back up. You have two options: calmly back up, wave with all fingers and slowly move to the soon-to-be open parking spot or throw it in reverse and hope nobody’s packing.
When you are victorious in your parking grab your posse and head in. No doubt you are ravenous. Good thing there is a minimum of a 30 minute wait at 2:30 on a Tuesday afternoon. This is a prime opportunity to review the menu at a high level while high school juniors move around in polyester ties.
Once your buzzer finally alerts you that it’s your turn to feel like family you proceed to the hostess station where she will guide you to the back of the dining area to a vinyl booth where you can stick to the seat.
Sheena will then come by and get your drink order but not before offering you a snoot full of riunite. Yes that shit your parents drank in the navy in the 70’s when stationed in third world countries.
You may now review the menu in detail. How can I have a heart attack today? Let me count the ways! Let’s see how much cheese we can put in a single dish. Maybe ravioli or just a big ass bowl of cheese served with buttered bread.
Place your Order and wait for the soup, salad and breadsticks to come out. They never bring you as many breadsticks as you will need. You better believe sheena will cop a little attitude on her 4th trip to the kitchen for breadsticks. It’s call unlimited for a reason honey.
Food arrives. Once again, more cheese is applied. The food at its best is at least hot.
The check arrives and it’s time to drop $45 on carbs that made you feel bloated and undeserving.
Return to the parking lot full of shame and humility that nothing will fit tomorrow due to the amount of sodium you just consumed. Hating yourself for falling into that same rat trap again.
Go home. Sleep in the fetal position while you quietly mist in your pillow. All families are a little dysfunctional and remember, when you’re here, you’re family.