Pasta Perfection

Day Forty-Four (1): Missy

Comments

Demeanor -- Muscat-like: Acerbic, astringent
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- "Um...indifferent? Do you ask everyone that?"
Tough crowd -- laughed way harder at the fact that I had a second Olive Garden date lined up immediately after hers than she did at any of my jokes
Snapshot --

"Totoro is overrated. I really prefer Princess Mononoke"
-Missy, sealing herself away in my Friendzone™ forever

--

Missy does "pretty much everything" in her employ at a local movie theater, even making drinks! I don't know what kind of movie theater serves cocktails, but it sounds like a pretty chill place. I'd recommend it, if I had thought to ask her the name.

Sassy and no-nonsense, Missy does not suffer fools gladly and has no reservations about pointing out hypocrisy where she sees it. This made dining with her a uniquely rewarding experience!

5 more dates to go.

Today's pasta was
Volume One

Day Forty-Four (2): Meagan

Comments

Demeanor -- Zinfandel-like: dry, light-bodied
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- "I've only been here once before, and it was...not the best experience. It felt like they just put sauce on top of pasta. It wasn't really a cohesive meal."
Could she even begin to explain how stressful nursing school is? -- No
Snapshot --

I ask Meagan if she's interested in having kids, because I find that the best time to have that particular conversation with a loved one is within 3 minutes of meeting them.

"Ugh...um...don't put this in the blog, but...children are like small, psychotic, drunk adults."

"Wow. I'd really like to put that in the blog."

"Okay. Man. All my friends are going to know it's me who said that."

--

Meagan is a nursing student worried that she may already be becoming jaded about the profession, despite having not yet worked a full day as an RN (Real Nurse) or NP (Nurse-Plus). That sounds like a lot to have on one's plate, so I'm particularly grateful for her coming all the way to my OG to fill a less metaphysical plate.

5 more dates to go.

Today's pasta was
Volume Two

Day Forty-Three: Shanina

Comments

Demeanor -- Riesling-like: Honey-sweet
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- "Growing up in a small town, this was the fanciest place we could go. It's way better than Applebee's. I always felt like they just microwaved their food."
Favorite subreddits -- /r/askwomen and /r/pcmasterrace ("despite the ayyy lmao")
Snapshot --

Back in middle school, Shanina was a Pretty Big Deal in free-to-play MMOs like Maplestory and, especially, Mabinogi.

"I spent a lot of my mom's money on that game, buying all the coolest gear. I was the most popular player on the server. Then I got banned."

I can tell this is a painful memory for her, so I don't ask her to relive the trauma.

--

With an infectious laugh and refreshingly positive outlook, Shanina was a delightful dining companion. She's studying to be a civil engineer. If you were wondering: yes, she has played Sim City. No, you are not the first person to ask.

6 more dates to go.

Today's pasta was
The PonyGirl Special

Day Forty-Two: Christine

Comments

Demeanor -- Sage-like: Wise, earthy
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- "It's..." ((searches for the right word)) "...okay."
Reaction to my puns -- A polite, tight smile.
Snapshot --

It's way too dark outside to get a quality selfie, and I'm coming to the realization we'll have to take it inside the restaurant. I take a deep breath and ask Christine if she's okay with embarrassing herself.

"You're asking me that now?"

--

Christine is a self-described "semi-practicing" Muslim, and an admissions agent for a study abroad program at a local college. They offer a variety of destinations based off your field of study, which is pretty cool. My major would've gotten me to some place that is not the Culinary Institute of Tuscany , so I changed the subject immediately.

Thanks to Christine for being flexible with her schedule!

7 more dates to go.

Today's pasta was
The Value of Pre-Mixing

Day Forty-One: Laura

Comments

Demeanor -- Garlic Powder-like: Strong, independent, don't need no man
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- "When I was a little girl, I'd beg my parents to take me to Olive Garden. Eight years later, I was a server! Really living the dream."
Her vote for 'worst part about the Never Ending Pasta Bowl promotion' -- People like me
Snapshot --

"Oh my god, I'm so happy to have found someone who likes Olive Garden as much as I do." Laura beams. My mouth is full of food, so I just nod vigorously, sauce dripping from my chin.

She reflects for a bit.

"Maybe more."

--

Laura has some kind of nonprofit organization office job, but used to be server at the Olive Garden, which is, of course, where all my questions were directed. She let me in on countless bits of OG trivia and lore. For example: the company was originally founded in 1930 as "Ollie's Garden" by Oliver Capone as a quasi-legal speakeasy. Customers ordered small bowls of cheap pasta that were 'sauced' with homemade bathtub moonshine! When Prohibition ended, Ollie poured the moonshine into bottles, relabeled them as "Sutter Home Wine", and kept the pasta. People loved it, and Italian-style eating has never been the same.

Oh, right, Laura. She's more than just an OG historian - she also plays a mean Mario Kart. And I mean that literally. She will not hesitate to yell very hurtful things if you dare to use a blue shell.

8 more dates to go.

Today's pasta was
Delicious!

Day Forty: Yujin

Comments

Demeanor -- Oregano-like: Slightly bitter
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- "People are snobby about it, but it's fine."
Helpful/unsolicited tip, brought up apropos of nothing -- "I will say, though, you are much better looking when you look straight ahead."
Snapshot --

"You're an asshole!" Yujin informs me.

I've just finished telling a story in which I, to be fair, come across as kind of an asshole. Before I can respond to this astute observation, the waiter asks us if we need anything. Yujin glares at me and says "Yeah, a better date!"

--

Before I continue, I must legally inform you that this blog post is not legal advice, and Yujin is *not* a lawyer. Granted, this is true of every single one of my dates, but she is the only one that made it a point to stress that I cannot imply her having any sort of lawyer-powers. Bearing that in mind, All Love Garden Dot Com is a fully licensed and bonded law firm, and you should consider all other posts as such.

Wow! What a date. If confidence is a single piece of cavatappi (or a cavatappo, as it would be called in my native Italy), Yujin is an Olive-Garden sized bowl of it. She went to several fancy schools, got several fancy degrees, probably makes more money than I ever will, and is a good three inches taller than me. That said, she dropped a crouton on her lap while eating the salad, which kept her from being all that intimidating. Olive Garden proves yet again that bread is the great equalizer.

9 more dates to go.

Today's pasta was
Home Stretch

Day Thirty-Nine: Angelica

Comments

Demeanor -- Rosemary-like: astringent and striking
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- "It's alright! I always get the same thing - the Five Cheese Ziti al Forno™."
Advice to young women who want to get ahead in the world of competitive Speech -- "Wear a skirt and pantyhose. And bring extra pantyhose for when it inevitably tears. Judges outside of California will expect a skirt, and getting to wear pants is not more important than the speech you worked on all year."
Snapshot --

"My boss was shocked that I knew what a bong looked like. He said at other schools, I could be fired for that."

--

This date was a fun challenge! A debate and speech coach for a private Christian college, Angelica knows a thing or two about dealing with entitled, white men like myself. Though I'm sure she could have easily destroyed me with her mastery of verbal fencing, she spared my life and pride, for which I am eternally grateful.

10 more dates to go.

Today's pasta was
Crouching Penne, Hidden Spaghetti

Day Thirty-Eight - Krystle

Comments

Demeanor -- Thyme-like: subtle and reserved
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- "My friend and I always came here when we used to follow pop-punk bands around."
With friends like these -- Made her friend drive all the way to the date with her, and then wait outside the Olive Garden for the duration
Snapshot --

"So, you work with kids. What can I do when there's a screaming child at the next table?"

She ponders a moment, and then gives me the exact answer I was hoping not to hear. "Eventually, you just tune it out."

--

Krystle is a preschool teacher who dreams of one day becoming a travel writer. She's a shy-until-you-get-to-know-her type, which is unfortunate because I only really got to the "get-to-know-her" part near the end of dinner! She's very nice, though, and was almost as amused as I was when I found out that the waitress had accidentally (??!) dropped an Andes mint in my Coke Zero. See a picture here - be forewarned it's not very good because I was shaking with excitement at winning this magical prize.

11 more dates to go.

Today's pasta was
A Tasty Snack!

Day Thirty-Seven: Mandy

Comments

Demeanor -- Basil-like: strong, sweet
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- "Okay, so, about that. My dad hates this restaurant. Absolutely hates it. And he won't tell any of us why. So I've only been here once before."
Mildly threatening tip for my 'really bad' selfies -- "Try to stop breathing when you're taking them"
Snapshot --

((reading her star sign's features off her phone)) "Aquariuses are cheerful. They like to have fun."

I interrupt. "I hate to have fun."

"Well, you're not an Aquarius."

She's got me there.

--

Mandy is an artist who works in the mediums of metal sculpture and photography. She taught me a lot about both of these things, including some genuinely helpful advice to really get the most out of my burgeoning pasta photography business. Granted, I only have one customer, and they haven't paid me or acknowledged my existence yet, but since I've taken over 300 different photos for them by now I think I'm due for one heck of a paycheck!!

Thanks much to Mandy for that and coming all the way from Los Angeles to dine with me!

12 more dates to go.

BONUS: Waiter Spotlight --

Our waiter brings me yet another refill of my soda (diabetes ain't easy).

"Here you are, sir. Diet Coke."

He places it on the table, and before I can say anything, he bursts out, "Just kidding!! It's Coke Zero."

I congratulate him on this classic bit of misdirection, the ol' aspartame-switcheroo.

Today's pasta was
White Balance

Day Thirty-Six: Andie

Comments

Demeanor -- Cilantro-like: warm, nutty
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- "Honestly? I don't understand all the shit Olive Garden gets. Nobody says it's real Italian, so why do people complain about that?"
Most recent proposition received on OkCupid -- An offer for $200 to receive a massage, which she assumed was "probably to test whether or not my skin was soft enough to make a suit out of"
Snapshot --

During the dinner, Andie mentions something clever, but also pretty rude about my previous dates. I ask if she can rephrase it in a more palatable, blog-friendly way.

"No. I can't be funny without being mean."

--

Andie, a grant writer who works five minutes away from Olive Garden (talk about a dream job!!), and I have a lot in common. We both love pasta, are snarky, and have issues with emotional intimacy that we gloss over with sarcasm. Like Freda from yesterday, she said some pretty hurtful things about Coke Zero, though this time I won't make the mistake of offering these opinions legitimacy by reposting them here.

13 more dates to go.

Today's pasta was
Shuffle Play

Day Thirty-Five: Freda

Comments

Demeanor -- Salsiccia-secca-like: fresh, dry
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- "If...if I was picking a restaurant for a first date, it would not make the short list."
Chooses to advertise herself on online dating sites with the phrase -- "Not horrible-looking or fat"
Snapshot --

Freda: Coke Zero, huh? I've never had it.
Vino: Oh? You should try some!
Freda: Okay. *takes a drink*
Vino: Well?!
Freda: That's vile. I can't believe you drink that.
Vino: ...I feel like we're getting off on the wrong foot.

--

My last date of week five was Freda, a confident woman working as an administrator. She is not a fan of the Olive Garden, and was not shy about telling me so.

Part of the reason for her OG aversion is that Freda is very into healthy eating - apparently, she doesn't even allow sugar or flour into her house because she doesn't like the idea of anything "white and refined". That said, she seemed to tolerate me well enough.

14 more dates to go.

Today's pasta was
A Gaze Into The Abyss

Weekend Trip - Phoenix, Arizona

Comments

Phoenix was the second of my three weekend trips (see San Francisco's trip here). The city is what I expected based off the jokes of hack comedians of the nineties - it's full of old people and oppressively hot, even in the middle of November. After biking to the Olive Garden I was covered in enough sweat that I was actually grateful that my first date had bailed on me.

I stayed with a lovely woman named Dorena from AirBnB. Here's a picture of her rabbit!

While hanging around between dates at a gas station, I was grifted out of $10 by a local con artist who claimed he needed the money for a tow truck fee. My big city sensibilities did not detect anything at all fishy about this until he took my money and placed it into a wallet that, I kid you not, was *overflowing* with cash. Then he asked me to give him $10 more, which I politely declined.

One last thing I noted was the lack of crosswalks and the resulting extreme frequency of jaywalking by the city's numerous homeless people. I tried to think of some kind of joke for this (something about how a Phoenix is a bird, and a Jay is a bird...phoenixwalking? idk) but it ended up being too complicated to be funny. If you come up with one, feel free to email me - vino at allofgarden.com . Put BIRDJOKE in the subject line so I don't get it mixed up with all my fan mail and positive feedback, which are all immediately deleted without being read.

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