Land of Souls and Olives, a Conclusion: PLMF’ers. Part 2.

Here’s part 1.

Has it already been two weeks since I went to the Olive Garden? Hard to believe. But the good news is that the team of gastrointestinologists monitoring my condition ‘round the clock has informed me that the meal is well on its way to being digested. So that’s cool. Hold on while I try to remember what happened that night.

What happened that night was a bunch of internet weirdos walked into a Springfield Olive Garden. The aroma of irony surrounding them nearly overpowered the garlic fumes, which are typically strong enough to make the wood veneer bubble and sproing off its plane like the table was popping a boner. Those internet guys may have strolled into that Olive Garden with recklessness in their hearts. They may have been packing a titanic thirst for self abuse. They may have been fucking idiots. But I will tell you right now, what they were NOT, was fucking POOR. I was prepared. I went to the ATM and everything. I had fifteen sawbucks burning a whole in my pocket, and there were authentic Italian slaves in that building who would see to it my money was converted into fifteen pounds of pasta burning a whole in my stomach.

We probably flashed this cash around more than would be construed as decent, if we were in a place where decency wasn’t Italian for “physically assault me in the restroom, please.” (“Decencissimo, per favore. Sì grazie!”) The wad of hard collateral weighed down the table the whole time we were there, and I made good and sure the waitress could see it up front so she knew we meant business. The waitress was trained in a dialect I think OG Corporate calls Family-CasuAffable, which primarily involves pretending that strange internet people actually belong in public, and every inscrutable in-joke they blurt out is totally hilarious. She would be rewarded heavily for her role in this charade, oh yes. Primarily through self-administered alcohol and pain medication after hours, one can only hope.

While in my wallet, the one hundred and fifty dollars had naturally sopped up much of my soul’s heady puissance, and hot rainbow lasers were rioting from the eyeballs of seven and a half psychedelic Andrew Jacksons all night long. This fierce little militia of technicolor A-Jax sitting there on the table served a real purpose, and not just to remind everybody other than me how shabby and unremarkable their souls were. It reminded us of the steep hill we had to climb that evening, to somehow burn through a buck fifty at an Olive Garden, an establishment notorious for its bargains. This is a corporation which manages to turn a PROFIT by hemorrhaging tornadoes of free bread and salad by some dark fiscal entropy yet uncharted by economists. Their shit is priced to mother fucking move, you know? And here we are toting madd-staxx, sashaying like the Rockefellers into the eye of this pitiless food geyser, derricked to the earth by salmon stuccoed drywall and stock gondola music. If someone put a gun to your head, do you think you could unload just shy of eight Andy J-Bombs at an OG on ANYTHING? And by “put a gun to your head,” I mean for the purpose of this hypothetical, and not during the ordeal one naturally expects to face when entering the OG men’s room. Yeah, we weren’t so sure we could do it either. I mean, they were already putting like five upended plastic lampshades full of breadsticks on the table before we could even crack a menu and make a battleplan for carving up this soul money. Soul money which I remind you I HAD to spend. See, there really was a guy with a gun to my head. His name was THE INTERNET.

So you’ll understand when I tell you I pored over the menu in a state of critical anguish over the rock-bottom prices, crunching figures on my iPhone calculator and swearing louder than babies were crying. I was worried the Internet was too rich for my britches, and we’d never manage to pack away 7.5 iridescent American fucking Lions worth of gutbusting Familinguini®. But just as the harsh presidential scowls of those 15 Xander Hambones and their scorn for my weakness could reduce me to ash, that’s when common sense finally set the fuck in. We could just drink the money away. Hell, we already had a head start on that plan before diagnosing it as the master stroke it was. So with a flourish of my limp wrist, I made a gesture probably deeply offensive to Italians beckoning the waitress, and demanded two of the most expensive bottles of wine in the house. Soon, two complex, full bodied little numbers were brought to us, each cradled in white linens like a newborn king, and just like that we were already another $7.90 in the hole.

The plan. It was working PERFECTLY.

The Olive Garden is good for two things only. It is good for grand marshaling a harrowing parade of internet-driven baloney, as you can plainly see. And it is good for getting hammered in. I honestly don’t know why you would go there to do anything other than get wasted. The only other reason to go would be if you’re a police officer replying to a 911 call furtively pocket-dialed from the restroom. Or if you’re a health inspector, scooting by to pick up your bribe wedged under the dumpster out back. That’s it.

Ryan and I would take turns ordering drinks; one guy would be designated to name the drink to the waitress, while the other would follow with a snappy ultimatum, “Make it a double.” Among the first rounds she brought us were a pair of Venetian Sunsets, which we agreed to consume after a little convincing it wasn’t slang for some kind of STD. It was one of those pink drinks that gradates to something not as pink, and you aren’t supposed to drink it if you’re a man. But that’s a trick stipulation, because a real man wouldn’t give a fuck. Any guy who balks at tossing back a Venetian Sunset or a Parisian Ticklefight or a Chattanooga Handjob is in actuality a blue ribbon pony’s meticulously primped vagina. (I’m quoting Ryan’s GPS device verbatim there, FYI.) Jeffrey got some crazy drink that had so much booze in it, the glass it came in couldn’t even hold all the booze, and the rest came in this odd, graceful little vial carefully placed next to it. I don’t know what that was supposed to be and neither did he. It looked like some tiny flute of nectar you’d give to an elf to make it stop playing tricks on you.

Clearly a lot of alcohol was going to be taken in that evening. So we had a choice. We could either be treated for alcohol poisoning, taking advantage of the OG’s convenient bi-hourly shuttle service to the Springfield hospital. Or we could eat some of the atrocious bargain fare being carted to the table at impossibly frequent intervals, to absorb some of the booze. This was really the genius of the plan, here. Using the OG’s own cruel contraband, the free breadsticks, to stave off poisoning. The breadsticks are really bad, and that’s not just me going, ha ha, here are some more jokes. They’re straightup nastyloaves. Imagine one of those little Nerf footballs. Imagine it’s stripped of paint and elongated a bit. Now soak it in bleach for a week. Then, once it is white as chalk, bake it at 800 degrees for 10 minutes. Then brush the loaf in a thin but powerful adhesive solution, and completely submerge it in a vat of salt. Put five of these loves into a basket, and put five of these baskets on to the table every five minutes until the party leaves, or is otherwise removed from the restaurant.

Is that enough of this story? I’m gonna say yeah. The bottom line is, the plan was a huge success, in that we’re all basically still alive somehow.

TLDR; the final tab was a little over $200, applied mostly toward beverages, and a smattering of semi-edible food. We went home and took a long hard look at our lives and drew no particular conclusion. North got in his car soldiered in the direction of his namesake to presumably put in another hard shift of “being in Canada.” Rowland went back to mailing way too many tee shirts to goofballs who like funny words on their chests, and maybe also run for mayor?(??) Keogh, Green and Paperklip went back to get bossed around by Rowland a little more, because that’s what he is, their boss. Softowl cleared her throat before Ryan got into his car, and he said oh, looked embarrassed, pulled the Ms. Paint figurine from his pocket, and eventually returned it.

Let’s never mention the Olive Garden again.

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