what is it called when you barf before you binge?
that said, i'll eat anything i don't have to pay for. last week jcrew dangled a red lobster gift card in front of me, a birthday gift from one of her exboyfriends. seems like jcrew's exboyfriends always forget that when they part ways, they are no longer contractually bound to buy her things. yet the relationships end; parting gifts keep coming. i'm not sure how she does it. she should write a book.
and so i agree to eat with her.
i order a shrimp and crab alfredo -- little creatures that were surely trapped earlier in the day on the banks of lake superior. living next to the world's largest freshwater urinal has its priviledges; i'm going to pretend fresh seafood is one of them. jcrew orders crab legs that damn near trotted out of lester creek minutes earlier. they are so fresh, they should have their teeny little fishy mouths washed out with soup, the little bastards.
two bites later i'm not hating my meal as much as the look of disdain upon my face would suggest. it is, dare i say, edible. by the next bite i've gone nancy drew all over mr. red lobster's family crest and recipe archives. i'm not eating crustacians and noodles. these are just whimsical ingredients to mask the truth: i'm eating butter and garlic and garlic and butter are pretty effing good when you mix them with anything.
meanwhile, jcrew is ripping into her personal plate of sea creature and dipping the crab quadriceps and hamstrings into butter. these little tubes of meat are merely vessels, from which to suckle butter like a calf at a teat.
my favorite meal from my worst-favorite restaurant is definitely the shrimp scampi. i now realize this is just butter soup with decorative C-shaped meat.
in the end i eat half of my meal and half of her's and later butter erupts from my pores, each a self-contained volcano. i consider a career spent spinning in front of a popcorn machine, wetting the kernals like a sprinkler.
i do not often eat at red lobster. in six years, this is just the second time. but it occurs to me later that i have a few stories that begin with "... one time at red lobster..."
... one time at red lobster my landlord and i were seated next to arguably the most unattractively obese couple i had ever seen. i sat in a chair facing them to use their aesthetic as a cautionary tale, lest i begin to go apeshit all over the bottomless bowl of cheese biscuits.
somewhere between the lobster pizza appetizer and all-you-can-eat whatever, the man proposed to the woman. he awkwardly rolled from his chair to embrace her in a hug as dangerous as planets colliding.
they held hands for the rest of the meal. her shiny ring strangling her thick finger like a belt cinched around a balloon.
i have forever used that encounter as the bottom feeder on the romantic spectrum.
... one time at red lobster oneniner and i ordered the drink special. we were served yard-long plastic glasses filled with a peach ice creamy drink. we each took a sip and instantly recognized that there was no alcohol in the drink special. to me, a drink special should at least contain rum.
we berated our waitress for billing something nonalcoholic as a "drink special." sent the mess back to the kitchen and settled in with a yard's worth of michelob golden lite, instead.
... one time, when i was about 22, i went on a date with a guy who was a manager at a red lobster. his name was ross and we had met while smoking outside of a building in minneapolis. he thought i was funny; i thought he had great taste. that night i went with he and his friends to a small mexican restaurant in minneapolis -- i've forgotten where, unfortunately. it was near or in uptown. you could draw on the placemats. it was open late. i've always wanted to return without ross.
i laughed myself silly. he had a voice like an AM radio talk show host. he told me he had once screwed a celebrity. but he wouldn't say who. he was older than me with a receding hairline and a daughter he never saw. he lived with his father.
he called me often and eventually i agreed to go on a date with him. we met in the parking lot of his red lobster. we hugged and he handed me a small plastic container of shrimp scampi, with which he intended to woo me. it was a nice start.
went to an art museum and out for chinese food. i dropped him off, back at the restaurant and he gave me an awkward hug.
"so, do you think you want to be friends or more than friends?" he asked.
"um," i hemmed. "do i have to decide right now?"
"actually," he said. "yes."
it was about 6 p.m.
"i don't really know you," i said.
"well, here's the thing: if you want to be more than friends we should do something again. if you just want to be friends, let's not. i have enough friends."
that was the end of my relationship with a manager from red lobster.
i ate the scampi when i got home.