On pointless venting

Sent the following text to my wife:

Post-Covid, we really don’t go out much any more. Maybe once a month at best. I don’t think anyone’s necessarily worried about catching something from going to dinner at this point, but however fucking many years it’s been since the Goddamned world ended have more or less permanently altered our dining habits. But I was twitching to get out of the house and go do something, and dinner would be easy, so we went to dinner.

The where doesn’t really matter and the details don’t really matter. The place was busier than I’ve ever seen them before– there was a fucking tour bus in a nearby parking lot, and I strongly suspect (though I’m quite confused as to why, for a number of reasons) that the people who had rented that tour bus were in the restaurant.(*) And we got shit service. I spent the entire meal watching the waitress I could see, who was not our waitress, hustling and working her ass off while multiple people either ignored or forgot about simple requests, depending on how charitable you’re being, and by the end of the meal I wanted to tip her.

The thing is, I think of myself as a reasonable person, or at least I like to, and I also think of myself as someone who doesn’t fuck with service workers, which is a rule I won’t break. The problem with that is that when I genuinely do encounter bullshit in public, I’m not great about, like, speaking up for myself. And so I spent the whole fucking meal sitting there and stewing about stupid nonsense like how many motherfuckers do I have to ask before a side of sour cream shows up at my table and, similarly, why is it so fucking hard to get a glass of water in this place?

Like, neither of these things are actually problems. They are minor annoyances at best, but … well, I have been minorly annoyed, apparently, so now I’m venting about it to you.

The best part? I made a comment to my wife as we were waiting (and waiting, and waiting) for her to come pick up the check that I wanted to tip the other waitress, the one who had been working the section my seat was facing and was, again, obviously hustling. This caught my son’s ear and he asked about how tipping worked, which meant that even if I was the kind of guy to short-tip a waitress for bad service, even when I could justify it, I wasn’t about to look like an asshole in front of my kid, so she got 20%.

And then that same kid shut the door in my fucking face as we were walking into the house from the garage, and now I’m mad at everybody, and I’m complaining on the internet.

The end.

(*) Along with, inexplicably, three girls who appeared to be dressed for prom. It’s not prom season– the end of February isn’t anything season– this is not the place you go before prom anyway, and while it’s not as weird as it used to be that there were no guys with them, it was still kinda weird. And since I’m already busy being mad at society for preventing me from unleashing my id in public, I may as well rage against the societal constraint that random strange men don’t get to ask teenage girls why they’re dressed the way that they are, because dammit I wanted to know and why can’t I have everything I want??????

In which I go eat lunch

burger-665x385I happened to walk past my boss yesterday while she was scarfing her lunch and realized I coveted her cheeseburger.  (Pictured: not her cheeseburger.)  I also realized that I didn’t immediately recognize where her cheeseburger had come from, which was odd, because I thought I had tapped out all of the available places to buy food around my place of business.  Anyway, long story short, she told me what the place was called and how to get there and I bounced off to go acquire me a tasty burger.  The place is a diner, and I got a seat at the bar, explaining that I just wanted my food to go, and was able to order almost immediately.

An old man comes and sits down right next to me.  This is a trifle odd, since there are seven or eight barstools at the bar, and none of the rest of them are occupied, but whatever; maybe it was his barstool, I dunno.  He had one of those faces; dude could have been 65 and he could have been 103.

He begins talking to me immediately, no preamble.  I suspect he’d been carrying on a running conversation with people sitting next to him on those stools for years.  His family is in Mississippi, you see, a bit southwest of Biloxi, and it’s actually snowing in Mississippi right now, and they have no idea what to do about it, and we spent four or five minutes alternately kvetching about the current weather and laughing at how Southerners have no idea what to do with cold or ice.

(I note, looking at a map, that there is very little of Mississippi that could legitimately be described as “southwest of Biloxi,” which is interesting, because that’s definitely what he said.)

Anyway, this goes on for a few minutes, and it’s relatively pleasant and inoffensive, and then he gets real quiet and points his finger at me and thinks for a second.

See, first the Americans and the Russians started putting satellites in space.  Then, a year later, they started putting missiles in space.  And that’s when things started getting really bad, and that’s why it’s cold all the time now.

I go from participating in the conversation, if not enthusiastically at least not begrudgingly, to nodding and smiling and occasionally staring daggers at the waitress if you have killed the cow the burger is done that’s good enough bring it to me now dammit now while she walks by, no doubt laughing on the inside because I’m sure this crazy old fucker corners people with his insane conspiracy theories all the time and I am just his most recent victim.

Then he points at me again, and goes quiet again, and I listen intently, because this was where the first part of the conversation went off the rails, and if it’s gonna happen again I need to be ready.

“The scientists ain’t gonna tell you none of this, y’see,” he says.

“No, sir,” I reply.  “They certainly will not.”

And the waitress cracks up.

And she gets me my burger.

And I go back to work.

It was a tasty burger, by the way.

In which I provide good news and then gross you out

IMG_2397Okay, maybe I’ll gross you out immediately, because you have to look at this picture before you get any context. Bear with me.

It is possible that you may remember my blog post entitled How to Launch Your New Book: Everything I Know.  If you’ve memorized that post, or if you just clicked on it to refresh your memory, you may recall that I recommend taking the mandatory month between finishing a manuscript and rereading it for editing and redrafting and writing something else.  Now, I’m not good at taking my own advice, guys.  I’ve already broken like half the rules on that page for The Sanctum of the Sphere (preorder available now!) and I’ll likely break more before it comes out.

But!  Although I had to channel my college self, who laughed at deadlines and stayed up late when he needed to finish shit, I completed my entry for the Swords v. Cthulhu anthology last night– and, amazingly, I actually think it’s pretty damn good.  I think it’s got a solid chance of getting accepted, even if I took forever to finish it and literally didn’t send it in until 11:30 on the night before it was due when I had to be at work in the morning.

(Hah.  Do a Google Image Search for “Swords v. Cthulhu” and take a look at what comes up.)

Unfortunately, what this means is that now I have to start editing my stupid novel so that people can, like, read it and stuff, because I want that to happen for some reason.  Blargh.

Anyway.  Now the gross part.

We went to a local establishment for dinner last night, one I had not previously eaten at.  I like new restaurants, although I will admit that I’m starting to cool on the concept of the Italian restaurant, just because I’m pretty sure by now the pasta that I can make in my house is as good or better than the pasta that basically anywhere around here is going to charge me for. (I’ll make an exception for any place that actually makes their pasta fresh on-site, however I know of no such restaurants in town.)

But!  This place supposedly has really good vodka sauce.  I like vodka sauce!  And I’ve never made it!  So let’s check ’em out.

I am going to be charitable and assume that we were afflicted with a novice chef last night. Because while it has got to be true that there has been some point before last night that I couldn’t finish a meal at a restaurant because of how terrible I thought it tasted, I certainly can’t remember it– or it fits into some sort of special case where I was deliberately experimenting with something exotic and it turned out that I was overreaching.  Because if this shit is the best vodka sauce anyone has ever tasted, I have a frozen meal to recommend to you.  Because I am not joking when I say I would rather have Weight Watchers Mini Rigatoni with Vodka Cream Sauce for every meal for the rest of my life rather than eat the food at Polito’s again.  This shit was inedible.  I have looked at several different recipes for vodka sauce since we got home last night, and not one of them mentioned black pepper as a primary component of the dish, so the fact that this goddamn thing was swimming in black pepper has to represent some sort of error somewhere.  I’m not kidding.  I am a fat man, goddammit, and for better or worse I have been conditioned over my entire life to not leave uneaten food on my plate.  I couldn’t finish a quarter of this shit.

Which brings me to one of the other sins of Polito’s:  portion sizes so large as to somehow be offensive.  My wife and I ordered the following: an appetizer of garlic bread (which had a sliver of metal in it and still managed to be the highlight of the meal,) fettuccine alfredo and the vodka rigatoni.  The entrees came with a single breadstick and the salad bar.  Even the salad bar had a number of items that were far too large; we literally were unable to finish a single component of our meal, and my wife actually laughed at the breadsticks when they showed up.  The damn things are two inches across and nine inches long; I couldn’t tell if I was trying to eat a breadstick or blow a porn star.  

The punchline: before I realized what we were in for, I had some trouble deciding what I wanted to eat, and went to the unusual step of also ordering a calzone, thinking that I’d have it for lunch the next day, mostly because I still really miss being able to eat at Pockets whenever I want and I don’t really have a good source for calzones whenever I want one.  I tried to have the calzone for lunch today, and again ate maybe 20% of it before throwing the rest away and going to McDonald’s.  Why?  Because a sausage and mozzarella calzone was, inexplicably, packed with black pepper.

If I had lived in South Bend during my dating years, I’d be seriously wondering right now if I screwed our waitress at some point and never called her back or something.  Because holy shit have I never paid money for worse food.  We left with so many to-go bags it was ridiculous; I am not the type to complain at waitresses, so I just brought the boxes home and threw them away, and I’ll never darken the place’s door again.

The final offense?  I went to the bathroom while we were waiting for the check.  The bathroom has no lock on the door and has a freestanding toilet (no walls) and two urinals that are so close together that no pair of men anywhere on earth would ever use both at the same time.  In other words, it’s not a one-seater, which would be fine; it’s just a community bathroom with absolutely no privacy allowed of any kind.  I couldn’t have taken a shit in there if I’d wanted to.

I decided to piss at Target instead.

Not what I expected to be talking about

215523086_nkkr6-XL-2I just, somehow, got sucked into spending half an hour reading this brutal-ass report on everything Olive Garden is doing wrong nowadays.  Warning: it’s a 290-page PDF file.  Second warning:  it is, somehow, despite being full of investorspeak and MBAtalk, startlingly compelling.

And, again, brutal.  Whoever was responsible for putting this together pretty much thinks that everyone who works for or at Olive Garden, or any other restaurant owned by Darden, sucks, as well as all upper management and most of their investors.  And he pulls no punches at all, ever.  What can I say; I love invective in basically all its forms, and this is some great hate going on here.

The funny thing is, while I don’t have any real animus against Olive Garden, I don’t particularly like the place either.  We eat there… yearly?  Twice yearly, maybe?  I’m a fan of Red Lobster, which at least used to be owned by the same people, but doesn’t seem to be anymore, and I don’t think I’ve ever entered a Longhorn Steakhouse.  So it wouldn’t be any real skin off my back if Olive Garden went under.  I know some people who might be upset, I suppose.  I’m not one of them.

I might miss the Penny Arcade comics, I guess.


Presented more or less without comment, pt. 2

I feel like these two objects maybe do not need to be in the same room.  I, at least, do not ever need to use both of those things at the same time.  Maybe that’s what makes this place fine dining; I dunno.