Pasta Perfection

Day Twenty-Seven - Andrew

Comments

Demeanor -- Garden salad-like: responsible, mature, but not without its own charm
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- ((lowers voice conspiratorially as waiters walk by)) "I don't want to, y'know, offend the staff here. I mean, it's mediocre. But there's comfort in that. You don't have to wear a jacket."
Most bourgeois moment -- Paid more for a single shot of whiskey than I've spent on any meal in my entire life.
Snapshot --

As always happens when two grown-ass adult men get to talking, the subject of cute dog tricks comes up. I ask Andrew if his dogs know any good ones.

"The little one can stand on her hind legs and kind of flap her paws in the air. She's a little Rory Calhoun!"

--

Andrew, an audio engineer living and working in Bakersfield, came all the way down to my Olive Garden (roughly a two hour drive!) for his shot at internet fame and free pasta. He was alerted to my existence by his friends and longtime All of Garden fans, Tamerlane and Dogs of War, which I think might be pseudonyms.

Anyway, this was a pretty new experience for me, date-wise. What with us both being straight, cis, heterosexual, white men, we didn't have a lot of romantic chat about our future together or what shade of chartreuse would look best for the remodeled foyer's new dustcovers. Instead, we spent our dinner luxuriating over our privilege. It was a welcome change of pace, but I'm ready to get back to more traditional dates tomorrow!

22 more dates to go.

Today's pasta was
Nope, That's How It's Supposed To Taste, I Guess

Day Twenty-Six: Kelsey

Comments

Demeanor -- Taco salad-like: aggressively saucy
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- "I like it a lot. I'll qualify that by saying that I have, like, no standards. But I like it."
Reaction to being offered a refill after her first bowl of pasta -- In order: Bewilderment, disbelief, excitement, beatific serenity with the universe.
Snapshot --

"So," I say, as we walk outside the restaurant, "are you ready for the selfie?"

"Yes!! I know exactly what I'm going to do."

--

Right from the start, I knew there was something different about Kelsey. Maybe it was her laugh, which was not a chuckle or giggle, but a straight-up cackle -- frequently directed at something she had just said. Maybe it was her Tinder profile, which said nothing but "if you don't swipe right i'll kill myself" and made me feel like I was, in my own way, a life-saving hero. Or maybe it was the number of stories she told that started with some variant of "okay, this is going to sound horrible, but..."

I like her a lot.

23 more dates to go.

Today's pasta was
Audible Moo

Day Twenty-Five: Heaven

Comments

Demeanor -- Caesar salad-like: always prepared
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- "I always come here for my birthday, but they don't give out free food. :( "
Favorite indie film directors you've probably never heard of -- Neville Rothsberg, Emygdia H. Finn, "The Radish", Miss Quince
Snapshot --

The dinner is over, and as we're preparing to leave, I make a casual, though admittedly snarky, remark about Heaven's inability to finish her first bowl of pasta. She glares.

"You suck. You can put that in your blog."

--

An aspiring filmmaker/silicone manufacturer, Heaven has chosen a challenging career. She has informed me that the most frequently asked question about her line of work is as follows:

"Oh...silicone....Is it for....y'know...*makes jiggling motions at chest-height* boobs?"

If you were curious, the answer is "only sometimes".

24 more dates to go.

Today's pasta was
Betwixt

Day Twenty-Four: Annette

Comments

Demeanor -- Fruit salad-like: sweet, enjoyable to all ages
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- "Pasta is totally the moon to my werewolf."
Percentage of date spent on Snapchat, Kik, Instagram, and Millienialz™ - The Web App For Today's Youth -- 48%
Snapshot --

Took this literal snapshot of me while I was preparing today's photo.

--

Annette, a biology student from NorCal, is a frisky and excitable young woman who has perfected the art of getting adorably flustered. I asked her to take the selfie for us, since she seemed pretty capable of modern phone technology. She took one while I was fixing my hair and refused to allow any others on the blog, so enjoy my self-absorbed preening.

25 more dates to go.

Today's pasta was
Cordon Bleu

Day Twenty-three: Elise

Comments

Demeanor: Egg salad-like: hard-boiled, smooth
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- "Well, I grew up in an Italian family. So my mom wouldn't approve of this."
Tolerance level of toddler literally screaming three feet away for 40 minutes straight: admirably high
Snapshot:

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
AAAAAAAAA"

"So," I manage to get in while the kid takes a breath, "do you ever want children?"

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA"

"Not at this very moment, no."

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
"

--

Elise is in the process of clawing her way up the ladder of the publishing industry. This is particularly challenging since, as my blog's runaway success conclusively proves, print media is dead. She's the editor of "a line of small food magazines", which I assume means she mostly covers hors d'oeuvres, appetizers, etc.

She didn't ask to feature any of my food photography, probably because she was too starstruck. For the record: I'm available for all forms of selling out.

26 more dates to go.

Today's pasta was
Pollo Loco

Day Twenty-two: Breanna

Comments

Demeanor: Greek salad-like: simple origins that yield complex results
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- ((realizing that she was served spaghetti, and not the fettucine she ordered)) "This is too much food. This isn't my fault."
Favorite demographic, out of 'children, convicts, or the elderly': Convicts by far
Snapshot:

I sit on my side of the booth, wolfing down my second bowl of ravioli, and watch Breanna work her seductive magic on our hapless waiter. She flirtatiously cons her way into a free "birthday" dessert before my very eyes.

Then, perhaps simply to prove she can, she gets all the waiters to sing for her. I'm amazed. It's like being on a date with a Disney princess.

--

Breanna has a natural charisma that makes her instantly likeable. Her sweetness is not cloying, and her intelligence is not haughty. I truly enjoyed my meal with her, and hope to see her again sometime after my world of pasta has come crumbling down around me.

27 more dates to go.

Today's pasta was
Stagnant Pond

Day Twenty-One: Lauren

Comments

Demeanor: Parmigiano-like: complex, though most people only experience a pale imitation
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- *taking a bite, seems surprised* "This is actually delicious."
Number of times she said the phrase "maybe that's why I'm single": Six
Snapshot:

((Lauren has multiple videos of her dog and cat, and jumped at every chance to show them off. They are very cute!))

--

My third Lauren in seven days, this one was determined to stand out. I actually was given her number by Jessica - I think they know each other through work or a mutual cult or something. I couldn't help but notice that she had Tinder up while waiting for our table, which definitely incentivized me to give 110% on this date - clearly, she always kept one eye open. I admire that go-get-'em attitude!

Like Jessica, Lauren works with the mentally disabled, and like Jessica, she didn't laugh when I said that was great experience for her online dating. She's a great person, though, and was a pleasure to dine with.

28 more dates to go.

Today's pasta was
Gumby

Weekend Trip - San Francisco

Comments

This weekend marked my first of my three planned road trips - the other two being Phoenix in two weeks, and Las Vegas on the last weekend. San Francisco is a dense and overwhelming city, yet only has one Olive Garden to its name! You can probably chalk that up to the type of image it strives to maintain - hip, young, independent, tech-oriented, et cetera. Still, for such a Cool Town, the Olive Garden was extremely popular.

The trip was uneventful, save for regular bilboards in the desert paid for by California farmers who blame the drought on Congress and wanted anyone driving by to know who's fault it really is. My AirBnB reservation didn't pan out (he rejected me after I told him about the blog), so I ended up having to sleep in my car at a rest stop. Womp.

Here it is - SF's extremely exclusive Olive Garden, with a grainy, foggy backdrop of the city! I didn't get as many pictures as I would have liked - most turned out mediocre, since I left my camera at home and had to make do with a cell phone. We're off to a great start!!!!

Day Twenty - Claire

Comments

Demeanor: Provolone-like: pleasantly sharp
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- ((After her second, and last, bite of her entree)) "It's okay. I don't think it's poison or anything."
Killer app that she designed: Automatically scans the news article you're reading and embeds a link to related charity that deals with whatever horrible thing is happening, to optimize your slacktivism and white guilt.
Snapshot:

Here is a list of pug puns that Claire seems to enjoy, ordered by how long they made her say "eee!" when she saw them on shirts/notebooks/bumper stickers/etc in the store we went to after dinner.

"Pug Life"
"Pugs Not Drugs"
"Pug And Play"
"Pug-et Sound"
"Pugs A Lot"
"Puggin' It!"
"PUG" (underneath an Andre the Giant OBEY style image of a pug)
"The Pug Is My Favorite Kind Of Dog; Here Is A Picture Of One"

--

A former manager-turned-coder, Claire takes a good deal of pride in knowing what she's talking about and understanding the way the world works; you can understand why management was not a good fit for her. More than anyone else I've dated so far, she seemed to genuinely dislike the food at Olive Garden, though she was very polite about it and not at all snobby - I really appreciated that!

Claire spends her free time in her apartment, located in the most difficult-to-drop-someone-off-in-on-a-Saturday-night part of San Francisco that she could find.

29 more dates to go.

Today's pasta was
Rice A Roni

Day Nineteen - Erica

Comments

Demeanor: Ricotta-like: versatile, flexible
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- "I feel...I feel like you're putting me on the spot, right now. It's okay. I don't come here that often."
Reaction to the food, date, me, life itself: Currently under NDA, will be posted in 2023
Snapshot:

"Oh my god, are those Crocs?" She has a look on her face like my shoes just crushed a puppy.

"I...I didn't think you'd see them. You were supposed to get up from the table first, and just walk away."

"I don't know how I feel right now."

"I'm sorry."

And I meant it, too. Clearly, I flew too close to the sun with nature's most perfect footwear: a mistake I won't soon repeat.

...Unless I'm pretty sure I can get away with it. Gotta have my Crocs.

--

Erica is a charming young woman working in the video game industry, which is apparently a much bigger world than I thought, because I seem to keep running into them. She hails from the far east(ern coast of the United States: Georgia) and taught me a lot about the horrors of online dating as a woman. Most of the stories she asked I not repeat here on the blog, but they can generally be summed up like this: dudes are weird.

To Erica's credit, she did at least *attempt* to win me a giant cat pillow from the arcade. One day, it will be mine.

30 more dates to go.

Today's pasta was
Trypophobia

Day Eighteen - Rosella

Comments

Demeanor: Pecorino-like: Gentle, sheepish
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- "I actually like [other restaurant who's name shall not be reprinted in MY blog] more." ((I don't know if she provided a reason; I stopped listening immediately))
Proof of parents' nerd cred: Is heir to the throne of Daventry
Snapshot:

"I hate mushrooms." she says, poking through her salad.

"I...don't think there's any mushrooms in that." I reply, taken aback.

"I know. I just hate them so much."

--

Rosella is no stranger to pasta craftsmanship - a professional chef in a competing noodle dispensary, she's probably served up more food than even I have eaten. In addition to your standard trifecta of nerd interests - video games, cosplay, anime - she also studies both French and Japanese, and hopes to one day be a professional translator. Neat!

Also, I'd like to give a shoutout to the manager of the city of Orange's Olive Garden. Rosella left her box of leftovers on the table, and it was long gone by the time I went to retrieve it. When the manager saw me sobbing on the floor, wailing to the sky, cursing the names of the uncaring gods, etc, she offered me a replacement bowl free of charge. That's service!!

31 more dates to go.

Today's pasta was
Raviocean

Day Seventeen - Erin

Comments

Demeanor -- Mascarpone-like: disconcertingly smooth
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- "I really love it. I know people say it's not real Italian, but I don't care."
Current relationship status: In a marriage that is so strong she found it depressingly easy to reject even my flirtatious advances
Snapshot:

((it took me several minutes to realize that what I thought was a bizarre game of coquettish footsie was actually me accidentally brushing against the table leg, then repeatedly nudging it and getting no response back))

--

Erin is an intelligent woman with a broad base of knowledge and experiences, ranging from cancer antigen research to seeing a man in the ER she worked in who had shot himself in the abdomen. *Pro tip for those of you who would like to go on dates: this isn't the best topic to bring up while eating heavily sauced pasta*.

Afterwards, she took me to an arcade and wouldn't even try to win me a stuffed cat pillow, even though I was staring at it with the biggest, saddest eyes ever.

32 more dates to go.

Today's pasta was
How Much More Real Italian Can You Get?!

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