Well I have. And I love food. Like, A LOT. ...Like, too much. And I will keep going to these places BECAUSE I love food, but it doesn't help the fact that after I eat there I feel like I need a glass of wine and a cigarette.
I don't even smoke.
Have you SEEN that fucking menu? It's like 45 pages. It's got footnotes. There's an appendix. There's a works cited page. There should be an FAQ section. It's RIDICULOUS.
I'm sorry, I thought I was coming to your establishment to eat, not to READ A NOVEL.
If I wanted to do that much reading I would go back and get my fucking Masters Degree.
Anyway, here is pretty much what happens to me every time I go to eat there.
It's Friday evening and a friend and I have made the fatal decision to dine at The Cheesecake Factory. I've been here before and I know what I'm getting myself into, but something in me says, "maybe this time it'll be different" like a hopeful woman taking back a shitty boyfriend who will always be shitty.
We sit down.
The waiter walks menacingly towards us...
...and I see it.
That spiral ring-bound, pretentious, dissertation of a menu containing every possible food combination known to man...mocking me through its pages.
The waiter hands me the menu and I need both hands to support the weight of all offered food options and my impending failure.
I'm not ready for this...I think to myself, but it's too late. I'm here. I've committed. There's no going back.
A chill runs down my spine as I open the menu to the first page, knowing what lies ahead, but still not ready....
Drinks. Beverages. Alcoholic Drinks. Alcoholic Beverages. Half Alcoholic Drinks With A Twist Of Half Non Alcoholic Beverages. First Appetizers. Second Appetizers. Small Plates Larger Than Any Large Plate and Large Plates That Will Make A Grown Man Cry.
I feel dizzy. I need to sit down, but I'm already sitting down.
I feel like I'm 16 again and taking the fucking SAT's when the waiter comes around asking for my drink order.
"I....uh...uhhh...WATER JUST WATER I'LL FIGURE THE REST OUT LATER!!" I manage to blurt out with my nose deep in the "menu," if you can even call it that.
I look over at my friend across the table and she also appears worried.
There is absolute silence at the table. We have previously agreed that any conversation will have to wait until after we have ordered.
The waiter walks away to get our drinks and as soon as he is out of sight I'm in full on panic mode, flipping through 400 fucking pages of food to find something, ANYTHING that looks good.
Fuck, I'll even settle for OK food at this point. JUST BRING ME SOMETHING THAT'S OK.
The waiter comes back with my water and asks if I'm ready to order and I order a fucking appetizer just to stall to get a few more minutes of precious, precious time....I need more time. I NEED MORE TIME. I WON'T BE ABLE TO PAY MY RENT THIS MONTH, BUT GIVE ME 10 MORE FUCKING MINUTES PLEASE.
My heart is pounding. A bead of sweat rolls down my face and I finally hit the half way point in the menu. I feel like I'm running in circles and have made no progress, though page 239 says otherwise.
I order two shots of tequila to calm my nerves and give me strength through this daunting task that has been placed before me.
...They do nothing. I have been drinking a lot this week.
An attractive gentleman at the table next to me smiles and me and I scream "I DON'T HAVE TIME TO FLIRT RIGHT NOW CAN'T YOU SEE I'M TRYING TO ORDER?!?!?!" He looks hurt, but I am not shaken - if he can't understand how important ordering this meal is to me, we would never work out anyway.
Time passes. Who can say how much?
Not me. My mind is spiraling through what I can only describe as one of M.C. Escher's never-ending staircases.
After what feels like an eternity, I finally find something that looks good and I feel like I've won the fucking lottery. It's as if invisible angels are singing and flying all around me while my item choice practically glows through the pages of the
The waiter comes back with high expectations and I do not let him down. I proudly order my food and finally feel like I can relax a little bit. I smile back at the guy at the next table, but he pretends not to see me, perhaps due to envy as I have clearly ordered before him, perhaps afraid for his life. I don't even care. I'm busy riding on my cloud of decisiveness.
The food comes and per usual, it's delicious and way more food than any normal person is capable of consuming in a week's time. I slump back into the booth with a large grin on my face in a mixed coma of food and pride.
...And then, it happens.
The waiter comes out of nowhere. I am not prepared.
"Would you like to order dessert?" he asks, with an air of importance that insinuates he knows all about my most intimate shortcomings.
The test is not over.
FUCK, I FORGOT ABOUT EXTRA CREDIT.
I frantically search through the menu for the desserts (because you can't go to the CHEESECAKE factory and not order dessert, you just CAN'T).
The waiter is annoyed and I still haven't even found the damn dessert page.
"It's on page 415" he says will a roll of his condescending eyes.
"OH THANK GOD!" I cry with delight - I feel like I just cheated off the kid next to me in high school during a math test. Much to my chagrin, I finally locate said page of desserts.
To my horror, there are 843 different types of cheesecake. I start crying. The waiter looks disappointed. I ask for more time and he says no. More crying. I DIDN'T ASK FOR THIS I think to myself. But I know that's not true. I knew what I was getting into. I knew and I STILL walked through those doors.
Parallels between my current situation and some of my past relationships flash before my eyes as the never-fading regret washes over me.
"BRING ME ALL OF THEM." I yell, puffing out my chest.
"Seriously lady? There's literally like 800 cheesec-"
"I SAID ALL OF THEM" I challenge him with an all-too-familiar-and-judgmental smirk.
He brings out all 800 cheesecakes at one time and I don't make it through the first 4 before running to the bathroom to vomit. The cute guy at the next table asks to be moved to another. I don't care. I showed him. I showed BOTH of them. I made a decision.
I spend the next year paying off my $5000 credit card balance from my last visit to The Cheesecake Factory.