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.
Demeanor -- Capicola-like: simultaneously spicy and sweet
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- "Honestly, I love it. This is delicious."
Color of hair, as described by her -- "Deep, plum purple"
((on her plan to use her student loans for the down payment on a condo)) "Well...you've got to have goals. And I already have a car."
In one of the more bizarre setups for a date I've had (and bear in mind - all of these dates are at Olive Garden, for a blog, so there's a certain baseline of bizarreness), Courtney was offered to me, almost as a sacrifice, by her sister, who I met through Tinder. Why Courtney's sister decided to throw the poor woman to the wolves of Olive Garden is beyond me, but I hope that Courtney did not share her leftovers with her.
In any event, Courtney is a quick-witted student who has gone through several majors and may indeed go through several more before finding that special one that makes you want to settle down and actually graduate. I expect she'll go on to great things!
15 more dates to go.
Today's pasta was
A Phoenician delicacy, the chefs prepare this dish by squeezing the juice of a habanero over the chicken fritta to give its name a stinging ring of truth.
Demeanor -- Pâté-like: Mincing, smooth
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- "This is my first time here. But I have high hopes." (She ended up liking it!)
Level of influence Ayn Rand has on her life -- Does not extend beyond her name
((upon seeing a man play Beatmania)) "Ooh. A typing game!"
Dagny (pronounced like you'd initially think, but might be afraid to say out loud because you think 'that has to be wrong') is an English as a Second Language teacher in Japan, who I was fortunate enough to catch in the middle of one of her rare trips to the States. Erudite and sarcastic, but not in a tiring way, Dagny was a fine dining companion.
Tragedy struck, however, when we hit up the arcade next door to the Olive Garden. The claw machine that used to contain the giant cat pillow of my dreams had its prizes replaced with some other, inferior, non-giant-cat-pillow toy. My dreams of being a giant cat pillow owner will never be realized. I had to cut the date short - one day I might be okay, but not today.
16 more dates to go.
Demeanor -- brisket-like: frequently sauced
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- "You could do worse for ten dollars. You could also do much better."
Irish Credentials -- Inventor of the "Tater Shot", which is a tater tot artfully dropped in a shotglass of whiskey.
"You know, you remind me a lot of my ex," said Olivia, who then promptly changed the subject.
Olivia works as a baker in a local independent shop, and warned me before we started talking that she had "heard 'em all" vis a vis baking puns. "Anything about 'dough', 'bread', 'rising'...don't bring that amateur hour stuff here. This is my life." It was pretty intimidating. Usually people disparage my puns after I make them.
Jokes I might have tried, if she hadn't said that:
-The old "baked goods"/"baked bads" switcheroo
-Something about a "yeast infection" (if the mood seemed right)
-Hoping to see 13 of something and ask her if she called it a dozen (this would likely have required some setup on my part, but would be worth it)
17 more dates to go.
Today's pasta was
Rich Uncle Pennybags
Demeanor -- Bresaola-like: tender, mature for age
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- "My favorite Olive Garden memory is the time me and my friends had a $200 gift certificate so we ate a ton of food and drank a ton of alcohol and ended up in a McDonalds because someone wanted chicken nuggets."
What I really appreciate her being cool about -- That I asked her to Olive Garden, set up a date, and two days later forgot and asked her again.
Sarah wasted no time in speaking directly to the heart of my interests.
"Did you know that Denny's cuts you off after the 10th plate of their so-called 'Unlimited' pancakes?"
I liked Sarah right from the moment I saw her pink dress and leather combat boots. It's a combination not many would try, and even fewer would wear on a first date, yet she pulled it off amazingly. On top of that, it made me look like an absolute schmo, since I just wore some kind of t-shirt. You know. Like an idiot would wear.
Anyway. She's an aspiring screenwriter getting her master's degree and working in retail. She has a hermit crab! Neat!
18 more dates to go.
Today's pasta was
"Profit," said I, "for sauce and topping!—profit still, refills unstopping!
Whether Waiter sent, or whether waiting for a bowl once more,
My Ziosk light yet blue and blinking, near the Coke Zero I'm drinking --
In this Olive Garden linking its entry hall to a Crocs store,
Is there—is there balm in Gilead?—tell me—tell me, I implore!"
Quoth the Chicken, "Pomodor"
Demeanor -- Cecina-like: dry, salty
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- See for yourself
Painfully determined, determinedly painful -- Agonizingly finished an entire bowl of angelhair and pesto alfredo, the heaviest imaginable combo, just to prove she could.
"You see," I mansplain, dipping my breadstick into the extra marinara sauce topping my pasta, "this is a far better value proposition than ordering a side of dipping sauce. That's - "
She interrupts me. "Four dollars. Threen ninety-five if you want to get technical."
It was at this moment that I fell in love.
Celene and I are kindred souls - and not just because we both have un-ironic Olive Garden blogs (but that is the main reason). There's something about her detached, analytical air, combined with her dedication to the same corporate agendas I worship, that really resonates with me.
I was so impressed I almost didn't notice that she tacked on an $8 dessert, to go, to the bill and then said she could pay me back through some weird online service I'm fairly certain she just made up on the spot. I'm not even mad, though; I live by the credo of Poet Laureate Ice T, who advises us to hate not the player, but the game.
19 more dates to go.
Today's pasta was