Sunday, June 28, 2009

I'll Take the Bland Chicken with a Side of Embarrassment, Please

My mother gets every Thursday off from work. She’s employed by the State of Florida, and some time ago they went to four 10-hour-a-day work weeks. In order to avoid a lot of office infighting, everyone was given the choice of having a free Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. Nobody was allowed to choose Monday or Friday, because everybody was going to want a Monday or Friday.

“But Joe,” you’re surely saying. “Certainly government employees are grown adults and can fairly agree on a way to assign who gets Mondays and Fridays off, right?”

Sure, and I just came home from a date with Keira Knightley. Government employees argue over everything. I worked for the government for two years, and if you “borrowed” someone’s stapler, you were risking getting shot. I can only imagine the riots that would ensue over trying to get the day you actually want off of work.

“But Joe, couldn’t they use seniority or—AAAUGGHHHH! MY EYES! MY EYES!!”

I apologize for using mace on you, but if you keep interrupting, I’ll never get this damn blog finished. Besides, the point of this essay isn’t shitty government employment; it’s the fact that my mother was off of work last Thursday, so she, my father (who’s retired) and I met for lunch at Olive Garden.

I hate to admit this, but I am a functional idiot when it comes to food. I don’t know what half the items are on any decent restaurant’s menu. The problem is exacerbated when the restaurant is a chain that supposedly makes food from a different country, because the shitheads in marketing are always going to make the dishes sound as “international” as possible. This is to convince you, the ordinary ignorant fat-ass American, that you are indeed spending your hard-earned money well. You see, you might not want to pay more than six dollars for “Baked Chicken Next to Vegetables”. But hey, ten bucks for “Venetian Apricot Chicken”? Sounds like a bargain!

To make things further complicated, I’m on a low-carb diet. That means I can’t have pasta.

Or tomato sauce.

In an Italian restaurant.

So, I have no idea what anything is, but I was secure in the knowledge that 95% of their food could possibly kill me. That’s why, when the server came, I just blindly pointed to a random item on the menu:

Server: “And what will you be having today, sir?”

Me: (Pointing randomly) “I would like this.”

Server: “You would like ‘Copyright Olive Garden 2008’?”

Me: “And please hold the tomato sauce.”

Actually, at her suggestion, I ended up ordering the Venetian Apricot chicken, which tasted like (surprise!) chicken. I tasted neither anything Venetian nor anything apricot about it. I did detect a hint of Swanson’s Microwave Dinner, though. At least my parents seemed to enjoy their meals.

One last anecdote before I end this pointless essay. Before eating my non-Venetian non-Apricot chicken, I excused myself to use the restroom and wash my hands. The first thing I said to myself upon entering it was, “wow, do Italians not have urinals in their restrooms?”

I’ll let you figure out what mistake I made and why I was apologizing profusely to several people about two minutes later.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

When Grand Theft Auto is not a Game

Being the last one at the gym tonight, I offered to help the girl that works there close out by taking the garbage to the dumpster in the back. As I walked around the building to the front entrance, I took a quick glance at my car.

That wasn’t there.

Holy shit, I thought. Did I park in the back this time? Or further out?

I never park in the back, and my car was nowhere in the front to be found. Son of a bitch! My mind raced. What the hell did I leave in it? My cell phone? My wallet? Thank God I didn’t have my laptop in there! Damn damn DAMN! I just bought the damn thing a month ago! Now all I could think about is what my mom said the day I brought my car home: “You know, Honda Accords are one of the most-stolen cars in America.”

“Mom,” I said at the time. “I live in Cape Coral, not friggin’ Miami.”

I couldn’t believe that my mother’s concern had come to fruition. Pissed, I barged back in the gym, knowing I’d have to call the police and my insurance company. I was so distracted, in fact, that I tripped and nearly fell over…

…the bicycle I rode to the gym tonight.