The other night my wife, who's pregnant, worked late. I knew the chivalrous thing to do was to take care of dinner -- to have an idea, to hammer the idea through, to execute it without wavering. If I'm married 100 years I'll never fully realize how much value there is in just making the damn decision, but I'm slowly getting better. If only the decisions weren't so universally terrible.
This particular round of suspect decision-making led us to The Cheesecake Factory on Northwest Highway, which is very close to my wife's work. But upon walking through the million-pound doors, I remembered: Oh yes. I chose the world's most popular restaurant.
I have never not waited at the Factory. If you have ever not waited at the Factory, I guarantee they were closed and you were actually trespassing. That's the only reason a Cheesecake Factory is ever not completely full: Because they are closed and you're alone and it's only a matter of time until you think to yourself, Hey, where the hell's the bread? and then start unbolting the TVs from behind the bar.
My first instinct food-wise was burger, because that's always my first instinct. I would order a burger at French Laundry, and no matter how it came out, rare or charred or liquid nitrogenized with Thomas Keller's spittle, I would complain that it wasn't medium rare. I would then eat it in five bites and, not long after, start wondering whether that thing about tingling in your hand when you're having a heart attack is real.
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If I can resist the burger, I usually turn to something that I consider more healthy but that is actually just as terrible for me -- a salad drowning in ranch, a bacon-draped baked potato, that sort of thing. This time I confined myself to the pasta page. Pasta is healthy. Pasta is noodles (Asian people eat noodles! They're all skinny!) and protein. Not meat. Protein. When you're being honest with yourself, meat is meat. When you're lying to your own face, it's "protein."
I only ate half of my Louisiana Chicken Pasta, but by the time I waddled out, I wanted to sell it all back to the French. Fourteen-hundred calories of Parmesan-crusted sadness, that dish, and I lapped up its "New Orleans" sauce like I was retroactively saving the all levees.
The waitress brought me my doggy bag, which was heavier than the chair I sat on to eat it. That's what makes the Factory so great, right? You get two servings for the price of one and a half. So not only did my $16 pasta ruin my night, it ruined the next afternoon, too.
Anyway, that's why I was at there. Because I'm fat and lazy and have a pregnant wife and accidentally moved too close to Cheesecake Factory. What's your excuse, Everyone Else Ever?