The holidays can be tough especially for people who can’t be with their loved ones because of some temporary circumstance. But then there are those of us whose family get-togethers are just way too much to deal with and push the limits of our bullshit tolerance.
Well I’ve made a mental health decision this year, and there’s one other place where, when I’m there, I’m family. Here’s a breakdown of why I’m passing on our annual family dinner to be with the people I love most, the staff of my local Olive Garden.
We all know what it’s like when your family starts getting sauced. Things get said, feelings get hurt, and fights break out. Last year I was cut off from the booze just because I passed out and threw up on the coat pile. My real family was pretty rude about it. Not like my waitress, Tiffany, who politely lets me know she can’t give me any more free wine samples (even if I’m still not sure which one will pair best with my bottomless minestrone) before winking and pouring me one more tiny Chianti. Salute, Tiffany.
Both will have small talk, but only one will be endless and painful. The people who share your blood will punish you with questions like “How’s your ex doing? We really liked them.” The toughest question I’m going to field at Olive Garden is “Wow, did you finish that whole basket of breadsticks all by yourself?” Yes, I did. Keep them coming, please.
My aunt must practice some dark magic to get her turkey to be as dry as the dust we’ll all one day become. There is no gravy in the world that can save it. Do I really want my dinner prepared by someone who stirs the food, lets the cat lick the spoon, then continues stirring? Or do I want the Tour of Mother-Fucking Italy? Honestly, there’s probably heinous shit going on in both kitchens but I’ll gladly take the one that’s at least worth the digestive fallout.
When it’s time to cry, where would you rather be? Locked sobbing in the only bathroom in the entire house while your dickhead cousin pounds on the door? Or having your breakdown in a spacious handicapped stall as a concerned restaurant manager tries to calm you and tactfully assess if the police need to be called? It’s not even close.
Unlike my real family, my Olive Garden family doesn’t care that I’m not as successful as my brother and sister and when I return to my table I might even find they’ve left a few extra chocolate mints with my bill. Grazie.