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Pasta Perfection

Day Sixteen - Lauren


Demeanor -- Mozzarella-like: soft, sweet
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- "I come here with my parents all the time. They find something they like and stick with it, and I just go along."
Worst first date, other than this one: Ended with her hand forcibly placed upon a trench-coat-wearing man's denim-clad herpetic bulge

"Yeah, I usually go for nerds, but you're, like, an actual nerd." ((I'm pretty sure this was a compliment))


A hair stylist with a heart of gold, Lauren offered me a number of tips on maintaining good bounce, lift, and natural shine that, for all I know, she was secretly reading off the back of a bottle of dog shampoo. Still, I ended up buying like fifty bucks worth of gel that she happened to have brought with her. Look forward to a whole new Vino in the next selfie!

33 more dates to go.

Today's pasta was
Ariel's Feast

Day Fifteen - Jessica


Demeanor -- Gorgonzola-like: peppy, peppery
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- "I haven't been here in years, though my waiter once gave me an entire to-go box filled with Andes mints. I'd never felt so loved before." *a brief, wistful pause* "Or since."
You're In The Wrong Neighborhood, Son -- Picked all the olives out of her salad

Jessica: *clearly impressed* "You can really drink a lot of soda."
Vino: "Yeah! I think I have an extra pouch in my stomach for it."
Jessica: "Like a cow."
Vino: "Uh huh. Ruminate on that one!"
Jessica: *chooses not to acknowledge, possibly at a loss for words??*


Jessica agreed to meet up with me fairly last-minute as I had been cancelled on by a Tinder rando (imagine!), so for that I owe her my eternal thanks. And to that nameless rando who said "something came up" and then an hour later posted a picture of her rock climbing in a mall, I owe my eternal "c'mon, dude. C'mon".

Anyway! Jessica. She's great! For those of my audience looking for a charmingly witty dining companion who can regale you with stories of life in the big apple and her celebrity status (once appeared on a ten-year-old reality show) that rivals even my own, you can't do much better.

34 more dates to go.

Today's pasta was
Are You Alfredof The Dark

Day Fourteen - Lauren


Demeanor -- Orzo-like: Composed entirely of small grains (I realize that these are getting fairly abstract)
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- "When my family went here as kids, we had an awesome waiter, he'd always give us free desserts and stuff."
Claim to fame: Bravely corrected Conan O Brien on the unforgivable sin of not knowing Justin Bieber's age

"Tricolor penne? That seems like a lot. Do you think they can get that down to a bicolor?"


Lauren is an independent contractor (not a prostitute (not that there's anything wrong with being a prostitute)) who lives about an hour away from my Olive Garden, so before I say anything else I really want to thank her for enduring the horrible California traffic to spend some time with me. Granted, she did get Olive Garden food, which is a reward in and of itself, but I just wanted to put that out there.

In addition to a love of cats and bats, Lauren has a special place in her heart for all things spooky and/or haunted. I don't know if that's just because it's October or something, but throughout the date I was acutely aware that both of our bodies were filled with skeletons, and it kinda freaked me out!

35 more dates to go.

Today's pasta was
Tony's Choice

Day Thirteen - Marty "The Party"


Demeanor -- Fettucine-like: flowing, free-spirited, approximately 6.5 millimeters wide
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- *mouth full of pasta, no words can escape*
Application for date:

You can see how I was intrigued.

The time is 11:25, far beyond closing hours, but the ad said "neverending", and we're putting that to the test. The waitress stops by with another armful of Coke Zeroes for the two of us. She is long past the point of faux servile politeness, and curtly asks, "More?"

Marty and I nod simultaneously, and resume our gorging.


I've always said that even though I'm a heterosexual male, it's possible that I just haven't met the right guy yet. So when this mysterious man signed up on my site, I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

I'm not sure who Marty is or where he came from, but what I am sure of is that his love for pasta rivals even my own. We didn't exchange much in the way of words - in fact, the only thing he actually said was "The Party's here!!!" when he arrived twenty minutes late and immediately started working through the breadsticks.

Even so, I think we communicated through the medium of nonstop eating - and isn't that what Olive Garden is all about?

36 more dates to go.

Today's pasta was
Vegetarian Option

Day Twelve - Mary


Demeanor -- Canneloni-like: Compact, yet chock-full of fascinating insights
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- *taking her first bite of food* "I'd forgotten how salty it is."
90's kid fantasy brought to life -- Has spoken to both Nick Carter and Lance Bass

As we walked and talked in the mall after our date, Mary offered me the most confidence-undermining compliment I've ever received.

"You're very funny. Is that a defense mechanism?"


A "PR and Marketing Consultant" working on a Master's in "Mass Communications Research and Theory" and writing a thesis on "Corporate Social Responsibility", Mary's friendly, warm nature overcame the intimidation factor of the aforementioned quoted phrases that, for all I know, she made from whole cloth.

On top of being a fun date, she gave me helpful tips on how to leverage the marketability of my brand, increase my buzz factor, and maximize my web presence utilizing the information superhighway and proper nettiquette. Granted, the only actionable advice she gave me was to email Buzzfeed and beg them to do a story on me, but that's more than I had before!

37 more dates to go - try not to have any dates on the way through the parking lot!

Today's pasta was
Applebee's Nachos

Day Eleven - Sara Cate


Demeanor -- Ravioli-like: Costs a little more, but worth it for all the cheese you get
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- "This is the Olive Garden we came to, growing up. My dad always wanted to go ironically, but I think he actually enjoyed it."
Loves to hate, hates to love: Minions (of the Despicable Me variety)

"So, your dad appreciates irony?" I ask incredulously.

"Oh, yeah. He's pretty cool. He even sends me memes. I mean, they're primitive...proto-memes, really. But he gets it."


Sara Cate is one of the funniest women I've ever met, and I've met, according to the url of this page, at least ten. In addition to being a budding internet youtube starlet, she enjoys mocking Men's Rights Activists in an effort to "deplete the brozone layer".

Also, she insisted on taking the selfie herself. "I've seen your selfies," she said dismissively, grabbing my phone.

38 more dates to go.

Today's pasta was
Not What I Ordered

Day Ten - Alanna


Demeanor -- Macaroni-like: whimsical, but also grounded and pragmatic
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- "Growing up, my family went here twice a month."
Favorite video games: World of Warcraft, Heroes of the Storm, Hearthstone, Blizzard Soulless Cash-Grab '97, etc

"I hope you won't think this is weird, but I kind of wish I could hook your brain up to a computer and just watch what happens." [For those of you wondering, I did think this was weird, but in a fun way]


Alanna spent almost an hour in traffic just to endure a date that, from her perspective, was largely spent watching me eat. I don't know if she has some sort of moral objection to salad, or just was saving room for pasta, but clearly there is some deep trauma there.

In addition to being a PC gamer, Alanna has a dog named after a 4chan board. The previous statement is one of those sentences that is baffling to 90% of people, indifferent to 9%, and makes the remaining 1% fall instantly and irrevocably in love.

39 more dates to go.

Today's pasta was

Day Nine - Christine


Demeanor -- Fusilli-like: extroverted, a combination of both "fun" and "silly"
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- "The last time I was here was in high school. 'Cause, Olive Garden is, like, the fanciest place you can think of when you're 18."
Inexplicably chose to double major in: Chemistry/Music

"So I quit my job and went to travel around Asia for a while, then came back, then took three or four weeks just for myself. Y'know. Jet lag."


Christine immediately earned a special place in my heart by being the first of any of my dates to actually finish her first bowl of pasta. Granted, she did this while groaning pitifully and rubbing her distended belly in a way that was somehow both disturbing and sensual, but it's still a fine accomplishment. I admire anyone with that level of commitment to getting their money's worth, even when it's their date's money, and also their date didn't spend any actual money.

40 more dates to go.

Today's pasta was
Diffuse Natural Light

Day Eight - Kristal


Demeanor -- Spaghetti-like: traditional, yet capable of surprising even the most jaded audience
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- "Haha, I enjoy it. I used to have a friend who'd go with me to Olive Garden, like, twice a month."
Names of flag football teams she has been on -- Responsible Adults, Areolas

((As the date was ending))
Vino: "Well, thanks for dining with me. I had a great time."
Kristal: "Yeah, this wasn't, like, torture or anything."
Vino: "Wow. Can I use that quote in the blog?"
Kristal: "Haha, sure."
Vino: "How about your answer to this question?"
Kristal: ((cannot legally reproduce response here))


It took a while for Kristal to let down her wary, snarky, sarcastic exterior, but once she did, I was treated to a personality that was truly wary, snarky, and sarcastic, but in a fun way. She's very much like a jawbreaker, in that there's lots of layers but they're all basically the same. Also, as a professional recruiter for automotive engineers, she's always looking for new contacts with which to network. If you or someone you know would like to make an exciting career change, give her a call!

I didn't get her number, though, so you're on your own there. Sorry.

41 more dates to go.

Today's pasta was
A Really Bad Thing To Order If You're On A Date

Day Seven - Sandra


Demeanor -- Pesto-like: pleasantly nutty, slightly cheesy
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- "I like it! I put *makes air quotes* air quotes *stops making air quotes here for some reason* around the word Italian, but I like it."
Has a chip on her shoulder about the cancellation of: Mixology

"So, yeah, we'd inject the mice with the substance and then wait for the microscopic hemorrhages to appear and then euthanize them and dissect their brains for further study." *chomps breadstick casually*


Sandra is a counselor-in-training who, I assume, regularly goes through empathy-building rituals not unlike Jedi mind exercises in pursuit of perfecting her craft. If that's true - and I really want it to be, so I didn't ask - that's pretty cool! She's also colorblind, though she assured me this doesn't cause nearly as many apple-related woes as I had always assumed such a malady would.

I mean, just imagine! You could never be sure what you were biting into. Every apple would be Russian roulette. Tart, sweet, tangy, it's anarchy!!!

42 more dates to go.

Today's pasta was
Hello Darkness, My Old Friend

Day Six - Vanja (Vahn-ya)


Demeanor -- Hollandaise-like: smooth, yet somewhat acerbic
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- "I like it."
Kindred spirit?? -- As a troubled youth, ate nothing but McDonald's food for an entire year.

Vino: "So, how did you get into the librarian business?"
Vanja: "Well, when I was 16, I started working in my local library as a page."
Vino: "And look, now you're a whole book!"
Vanja: "Oh. That was a joke."


Vanja is a self-described introverted librarian with a cat named Oliver - after the book, not the movie cat named after the book - and a dry sense of humor. One of her favorite pastimes is informing people on the internet that their beliefs are wrong; in this sense, she and I have a lot in common.

43 more dates to go.

Today's pasta was
Alice Cooper's 'Rooster'

Day Five - Hilda


Demeanor -- Béchamel-like: Sassy nature makes men roux their existence
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- Completely stone-faced: "I fucking love Olive Garden"
Main problem with women's representation in modern gaming: poor anti-aliasing causes unmeetable standard of jaggy-ness

"(uninterrupted three minute stream-of-consciousness rant about video game class design, guild mates, coworkers, the italian sausage she ordered, etc)"


Hilda works for a major video game company and was very good at answering my questions with nonanswers like "I can't talk about that project", "my company doesn't make Boggle, it is not a video game", and "no, we don't have any plans right now to make an olive garden-themed MMO". That last one particularly stung - she wouldn't even look at my concept art.

44 more dates to go - hopefully I'll learn how to take a selfie in that time.

Today's pasta was
The Colonel's Delight

Pasta Combination Selector