Dear Just Dandy,
My Ex-Boyfriend used to promise he’d take me to a Red Lobstah and even though he broke up with me 2 years ago, every time I pass the Red Lobstah in Times Square my heart hurts with pain. Help?
First of all, your ex-boyfriend is a bum. What, he couldn’t spring for Olive Garden? There’s even a Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. right across the street from the Red Lobster, and at least that place has fake license plates you use to flag down the beleaguered wait staff who have gone deaf from a sisyphean struggle with the torrential hoards of busfarting tourists and off-duty Spider-Men coming in from America’s Largest Neon Toilet And Money Trap.
Food-wise, this dude kind of did you a favor by never taking you to Red Lobster in the same way that if I held a gun to your head and didn’t shoot you I could claim I saved your life. Did you not explode into gore and red mist when you could have? Yes. But not pulling a trigger is not the same as stopping a bullet. This kind of comes back to the idea that everything is disgusting or nothing is, stacked together with the difference between junk food and things that should seriously not go in your body at all into a lesson sandwich here at Just Dandy Lessonfest 2014, with Unlimited Lessons & Breadsticks.
Eating lobster in the first place is kind of a dubious proposition because lobsters look like War Cockroaches. Lobsters are what cockroaches look at posters of when they make their New Year’s Resolutions, saying “This year I’m going to scuttle more, eat more trash and finally survive that nuclear war.” They’re bottom-feeding arthropods that used to be so plentiful that they were used as food for servants and prisoners, but then like everything else delicious that lives in its own piss we ate too many of them and now lobster is what big wigs eat when they’re figuring out how much to charge you for overdrafting your account buying the candy bar you’re going to eat for three consecutive meals. Lobsters are the blood diamonds of the sea because they’re coveted for No Good Fucking Reason Besides Scarcity, and you can quote me on that. Wait, I just realized that it totally owns to boil a sea monster alive and then crack open its armor and rip out parts of it in an act of Neptunian barbarism, so I guess eating lobsters is still awesome as long as you’re listening to Manowar. (Because Slayer is more of a dessert metal).
What makes Red Lobster specifically bad is that the massive pressure they put on a supply of food that’s not really sustainable (as the lobster life cycle takes forever to complete and if you try to farm them like other fish then they fucking eat each other, which is, again, metal as hell, but not a great business model) results in a product that’s inferior to locally sourced seafood in quality. Weirdly, the Shrimpfest Endless Shrimp promise doesn’t come from the fact that Darden Restaurant Holdings archaeologists have found The Chalice of Zoth-Ommog which provides an infinite number of shrimp from the shrimp dimension. We will run out of shrimp because of Red Lobster’s total Jurassic Park-style hubris. There are conflicting reports about where they source their seafood, but further investigation of that Red Lobster FAQ reveals that Red Lobster has a special proprietary compact disc and stereo system, which frankly I find fucking suspicious.
Forget about the willfully bad service that has to be employed to keep the restaurant from losing money when a poor columnist decides to actually test the limits of the Endless Goblin Shark Steakfest, consider that if you go to a Red Lobster in, say, Des Moines, Iowa you are a two or three day drive from the ocean. You need only look at the Pfeiffer Family Road Trip And Food Poisoning Records 1994-96 to see the risk you’re taking when you’re keeping seafood that long, and while freezing it helps keep you safe it also ruins the food, and the supply chain for a restaurant like that means that even in New York they’re not serving you fresh Coney Island Eels. Anecdotes are not the same as scientific evidence but I went to a Red Lobster in Maryland in a fit of youthful rebellion and was served crab that was basically a bunch of fake Halloween spiderwebs crammed inside a shell. They were in crab country and still managed to fuck it up, and I think it’s pretty telling that everybody’s favorite dish at this seafood restaurant is the fucking biscuits. Let’s shut down the idea that you were missing out on Red Lobster, though I highly suspect you and your ex were joking around and wouldn’t set foot inside one if they were running Handjobfest Endless Handjob Feast and I missed the fucking point.
No. Your question has more to do with the fact that something innocuous and silly has become a reminder of a person you loved once and how they’re not there anymore and you have to look at it. Just Dandy is occasionally a maudlin catalogue of self-inflicted cardiac wounds, and it will surprise no one that I’m familiar with how even a huge city like New York can start feeling like a haunted house. Every corner is spring-loaded with a Dracula who comes out of his coffin like “BLEH! You two did a Lady and The Tramp thing vith a soft pretzel here!” or a precipitous drop on rails into the dark when you realize you’re waiting in the spot someone was waiting for you when they met you. You get trapped and stuck taking the ride on a loop, and after you know every jump-scare and prerecorded rattling chain noise the things that used to scare you become persistent clockwork reminders of times when you were scared, which is just annoying and makes one feel dumb for ever having felt anything.
Junot Diaz’s “The Cheater’s Guide to Love“ says “The half life of love is forever.” Throwing the word Love anywhere near Forever is great lubricant for eye-rolling but that simple turn of phrase is so god damn right. Music nerds: Love fades out but even with the dial at zero there’s still current. Math nerds who are not also physics nerds (is that a thing?), love gets charted as an asymptote and though it may approach zero infinitely it’s an unquenchable motherfucker. There is no honest way out of forgetting this guy, or even of peeling him off of the Times Square Red Lobster, because no matter what it means you’ll be thinking about him. If you just try to avoid it then you’re structuring life around an absence, making negative space that implies the space where he was. If anything, this is one of those cases where you have to lean hard into the curve and take personal ownership of this thing you once shared. There are some things that other people bring into a relationship that leave with them like friends and phrases and bad habits. I’m sure you have bands you showed him that you can still listen to with minimal heart-panging because they were yours to begin with, and some others that he showed you which you tell yourself even his clinging memory can’t sour and you kept folded in your sock as you cleared out the rest of him from your mind. The Red Lobster is a no man’s land, though. It’s a fantasy that the two of you made together like some kind of White Trash Raising Arizona, and since it went unfulfilled you don’t have closure. But you know what? He’s gone, and closure and forgiveness are two things you really only get from yourself.
I’m gonna give you the best worst advice I’ve ever given, and that’s to take your god damn self to the fucking Red Lobster so that you know that you didn’t miss out on anything with him or from that feculent garbage tank and you can cross one more what-if off your list. Make the Times Square Red Lobster yours and if you need a date I’m the guy in the ratty Doctor Who coat putting tourists in headlocks outside the Toys R Us. They can’t stop me.
NEXT WEEK: Dear Dandy, I work at a chromatic crustacean restaurant in a major city and I need to throw out a customer who won’t stop eating shrimp and crying. Any ideas?
That’s all for Just Dandy this week! Pfeiff will return next Wednesday to answer your questions about sex, pizza and rock n’ roll, or literally any topic you can think of. Shoot him an email at email@example.com or tweet @ModDelusion using the hashtag #JustDandyDS.