Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Red Lobster Cycle

I have a ten-year cycle with Red Lobster: they're big advertisers on television, so I see ads inevitably and randomly: hand models are squeezing lemon, and the drops fall in slow motion to grace the fish criss-crossed with grill marks on the plate. Diners are so happy that they appear to have achieved something greater even than nirvana. And the voice-over promises that if I act now I can have shrimp fixed five different ways on my plate if only I act during Red Lobster's Shrimp Days...

So after ten years of random exposure to this (maybe an ad once or twice every month), I finally go to Red Lobster. A diner coughing in the corner sounds like a refugee from Solzhenitsyn's Cancer Ward. My waitress is named Jenny, and she recites an impressively long list of tonight's specials, which begins to create a vague anxiety of confusion and indecision. "Wait, what was that about lobster tail after the shrimp?"

A whiskey sour fills the gap now that I no longer have a menu to play with. Then the decade-long anticipation comes to an end: the food arrives.

It doesn't look like it does on TV. Certainly it looks inviting - I've starved myself all day for this - but it lacks that magazine-like gloss-covered perfection, and it tastes more of the oil in which it's cooked than of the seafood. Gravity works normal at my table, and squeezed lemon does not produced refreshing sprays of juice falling in slow motion. Once again I am disappointed, so I go back to watching the commercials, and a thought begins to stir, you know, that looks pretty good.... I'm going to have to try that out! I'm certain I'll go back before the next decade of my life is up, and you know on some level I enjoy it. I find a comfort in... the food, perhaps, in the cycle, certainly.

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