When I was a kid growing up in Houston during the late 70’s early 80’s, going out to eat at a sit down restaurant was not an everyday event. I was a kid so I’m sure my recollection of it all is skewed, but I get the impression that back then, going out to eat for casual dining was a big deal for a working class family such as ours. Not to mention that this time period predates chain restaurants prevalence. Back then the landscape wasn’t so littered with familiar names on every block.
So for a family of five, who had to squeeze into a Pinto, going to Red Lobster seemed like a treat. We had things we could draw on with crayons, I always ordered a Shirley Temple to drink, and I got the same thing I got at just about every restaurant we went to; a cheeseburger. My brother would give me shit for ordering and Shirley Temple saying that guys drank Roy Rogers (fucking kiddie cocktails), and someone usually gave me shit for shunning whatever cuisine the restaurant specialized in by ordering a cheeseburger.
By the time I was eighteen, my parents were going thru a divorce and we hadn’t eaten at Red Lobster in years, maybe since I was ten. I had got my first job waiting tables, and if you had a customer who bitched about food being too expense or portions not being big enough, you usually just mocked him to your coworkers by saying he would probably fit in better at Red Lobster, or worse yet Sizzler.
Red Lobster was “white-trash” as far as I was concerned. But to be honest, Red Lobster, Sizzler, Olive Garden, Macaroni Grill, Applebees, Ruby Tuesday, Fridays, Bennigans….the whole fucking lot, all had a trashy vibe to em. I especially hated how every fucking birthday was a big to-do. These restaurants promoted an enthusiasm amongst the staff, and the irony is…the staff had to be just a miserable lot. The industry is overflowing with crazy from your Nazi-esque management, to your prima donna chefs, to you coke-head waiters, to the pinch mojaldo busboys. What am I saying…everyone was on coke, slept with one another, and drank outrageous amounts till the sun came up; it was a cesspool.
All I’m saying is, if you wanna have waiters come wait on my properly, in a nice suit thats fine, but you want them acting like they get me, and we go way-back…kiss my ass. Overzealous waiting technics usually point to under-par food.
If you say trashy like… a dive bar that is ugly and no one wants to hang out there, I’m into that. If its trashy like a mom and pop spot with florescent lights, linoleum tiled floor, stained walls and a majority of the staff don’t care to learn English because they don’t have to because the food is that good…then yea I’m into that too. But this two entrees and an appetizer for $20 bullshit while the waitstaff is constantly probing up your ass wondering if you are ok or do you need a refill, in cheap uniforms that are barely good enough to justify cleaning, well then I’ll pass thank you.
But coming to New York… my friends who are from here… love Red Lobster… Mytchie, Aziz, Desire,just to name a few, all talk the place up. As much as I love seafood and skrimps, bottomless shrimp doesn’t sound good to me, it sounds like a buffet, and buffets tend to disgust me.
But…now I look at it like an exercise in surrealism at this point. The more they talk about taking me to Red Lobster, the more this little part of me wants to go. Partly for nostalgia, because I don’t think I have seen the sign in god knows how long, let alone have a hostess say to me “welcome to Red Lobsta”. Also partly because, its like how you want to see an ex, you just want to see where life has taken that person, or in this case, restaurant. But part of me wants to just go for a goof. Like, what the fuck am I doing at muthafuckin Red Lobster, were all my black and latino friends go to get there white trash on.
I’ll order a Shirley Temple, and check out what drawings they have, if they still give out crayons, and if so do they have that one color called flesh.