Saturday was coming and the new Olive Garden had opened in
a few weeks prior. A group of ladies decided this would be a good day to have lunch and go shopping. I’m not a fan of shopping, but I do enjoy sharing conversation and a meal with friends, so I accepted the invitation. Being absolutely crazy for Italian cuisine, I was already aware that the Olive Garden’s offerings would not compare fully to the wonderful restaurants owned by any Caniglia family in Sioux City, Iowa . But, none-the-less it was the best we had available to us in rural Omaha , so I would make the most of it. I have two rules when I eat at a good Italian restaurant; creamy alfredo sauce on anything, bread and tiramisu. Um, make that three. Italian food is rich, tasty and meant to be enjoyed to the point of exhaustion. The pasta, bread and sauces are why we seek out these wonderful eateries, after all. Iowa
The excitement of the day was building. I didn’t eat my typical breakfast that day because I wanted to be hungry for lunch and a delightful serving of tiramisu. I finished my morning routine of cleaning, reading and entertaining my dog. I jumped in the shower to get cleaned up and ready for this outing. Now typically on a day off work, I would be found wearing jeans, t-shirt and a baseball cap. This day was different though, I would be in the presence of “church ladies”, so I decided to clean up my raggedy mug and present myself as feminine as possible, while remaining true to myself. I left the baseball cap at home and wore a “blouse” with my jeans. I even put make-up on my face that day.
I arrived at the restaurant anticipating the lively conversation with my friends and of course, a hearty lunch. I was starving! One by one the ladies began to arrive and eventually we were all seated. With the pleasantries all said, it was time to get serious about the menu. Everybody had commented on how hungry they were and how amazing the menu appeared. “Oh, the lasagna looks wonderful”, our party organizer exclaimed, while another was salivating to the thought of chicken parmigiana. I pretty much knew what I was having, when I heard the biggest lie of the century. “This all looks wonderful but I think I’m going to stick with a side salad and a cup of soup”. I was in shock! The lady who made this claim was after all, the one who gathered us together in the first place. I knew she didn’t really want a salad. She wanted the biggest, richest, fattest plate of pasta in the place! Seriously, who goes to an Italian restaurant and orders a salad, a side salad even?! Well as is typical in a group of women, nearly everyone at the table began to lay aside their appetites, and suddenly all eyes were focused on the salad menu. I almost surrendered too, but no! I was in a pseudo-Italian restaurant and I have standards that I live by. When the waitress came to our table, I listened carefully as the other five women ordered their salads with some lousy light dressing, (on the side). When the waitress came to me, I proudly and hungrily ordered pasta with chicken to be smothered in alfredo sauce with extra parmesan cheese, not on the side. We visited and shared the complimentary bread that was given us to enjoy while we waited for our meals. Finally our food was brought to us. Each of the salads delicately placed before the others and then came my meal to which the others said, “I wish I had ordered that, it looks wonderful.” When I asked the lady who invited us there and whose mind was set on the lasagna why she didn’t order it, she simply responded, “because I need to watch what I eat”. I couldn't help but think to myself, now you can watch what I eat too.
This experience and many like it have convinced me that women are liars. Nobody really goes to an Italian restaurant because of their salad menu. I enjoy a good salad and if I want to eat healthy and according to a “diet” I cook for myself and stay at home.
The next time I’m asked to join a group of ladies at an Italian restaurant, I’m going to order for everyone at the table and ask for extra cheese on everything. And…I’m going to wear my baseball cap! Anybody want to join me?
Thanks for humoring me.