The American public is an untamable beast. To sustain the status quo of our lifestyle, the market has been inundated with coupons, sales and bargains. We take full advantage of such options, just like a good consumerist ought to. Case in point, The All You Can Eat Pasta promotion at Little Italy’s. It seems as if modern society has found their own version of The Hunger Games.
They come from miles; an army, clad in pajama bottoms, Crock’s, and unkempt hair. They dismount their beastlike vehicles and waddle through the doors, drunk in delight at the concept of a bottomless bowl of pasta. The options are limitless, just like their caloric intake. They gather ‘round the table and huddle together to stare at the single menu that dons each table with the popular promotion. Small harmless arguments break out over who can consume the most bowls, while a healthy wonderment begins to develop over what exactly constitutes the difference between a fettuccine and linguine noodle. It is the first to come of many, just as equally perplexing conversations they will have over the course of their dinner.
By the time the server approaches their table, the decision has been made. They shall order five bowls of pasta each! But they dare not proclaim this fact early on. Instead, they will reveal their intentions with clues, such as “I shall start out with…(insert desired pasta here)”, designating the first bowl as the commencement of the great carbohydrate consumption.
As if the bargain could not get any better, joyous news is brought to them by the server. The delicious soup and salad they equally crave is also included in the promotion. Their eyes begin to twinkle in glee as the realization dawns on them. In delectation, they glance at their surroundings, they see the breadsticks, the sodas, the soups, the salads, the platters of pasta, and realize just one thing: it’s all bottomless.
Soon, the server drops off their second round of soups, somewhat hesitantly. The second bowl of soup will only cause problems for them later, but they are blind to this fact this early on. The server also sets a basket of freshly baked breadsticks at the center of the table. It creates an awkward tension. Who shall be the first to snatch one up? Typically it is the unruly child, whose butter soaked ambitions blind him to the concept of bread etiquette.
At long last, the main event has arrived. The server drops off the first round of pasta and reaches for the fully stocked cheese grater. A silent prayer is said as the server hopes that the full block of cheese will be enough to quench the table’s appetite. Soon the pasta is undetectable as it has been blanketed in the snow like flurry of parmesan cheese. As the server begins to walk away, panic begins to set in as the table looks to the rummaged basket of bread. The current bread to person ratio will simply not do. There are four people with only three breadsticks left. Quite the conundrum they have found themselves in. The thought of tackling the mound of pasta in front of them, without the aid of a breadstick to sop up every last morsel of sauce is incomprehensible! The table elects someone to signal to the server that this is an unacceptable future. The server turns and smiles as the guest holds up the half empty basket of bread with a sheer look of terror on his face. It must be replenished, or the experience will be ruined.
Somehow, after two bowls of soup, and too many breadsticks to count, the table has finished their first round of pasta. At this point, their eyes have begun to glaze over, an indication that a carbohydrate coma is imminent. They are ignorant to the warning signs as the compulsion to get their money’s worth overrides their lamenting gastrointestinal track. Never ending isn’t just a motto; it’s a way of life. They forge on into the second round of pasta.
The transformation is astonishing. The optimistic table, with visions of sausages and meatballs dancing in their head, has now been replaced with a lethargic, apathetic lot. So lethargic that they often joke about having to be wheeled out to their automobiles. Yes, it is a hilarious joke, but with a dark undertone, as they would surely take advantage of such a service, were it offered.
Behind that lethargic, apathetic gaze, the cheese clogged wheels are still managing to turn. Perhaps there is yet another way to take advantage of such a great bargain. Yes. There most certainly is. Even though the thought of plunging yet another pasta laden fork into their gaping sauce coated gullets is dizzying, another round is ordered. The song and dance is repeated, the cheese is grated, the bread is replenished and the drinks are refilled. With all of their might, they manage to choke down just one more bite. They throw their linen on the table and feign surrender.
The server approaches the table. They innocently explain that their eyes were bigger than their stomachs. Perhaps they should not have ordered that last round. Perhaps they shouldn’t have had two bowls of soup. And perhaps they should not have indulged in 18 breadsticks. But the current problem is the uneaten bowl of pasta that remains in front of them. What is to be done with it? Surely it cannot be thrown away. What a waste that would be. But a bottomless pasta bowl cannot be made for take-out. But there’s certainly no harm in asking. The glee returns to their eyes as the server boxes up the third round of pasta. They glance at each other in triumph that they have beat the system. What’s better than all you can eat pasta at a single sitting? All you can eat, and then some later, of course!
They stare at the grocery sized bag of boxed up leftovers that remains on the table and revel in their cleverness. They honestly believe their trickery has gone undetected by the wait staff. They believe they are the first group of individuals to beat the system and order another round with the intent of boxing it up. A brilliant scheme it would seem. Little do they know that every table does this.
Now comes the long walk back to their vehicles. As they stumble out the door, they draw straws as to who should be the one to fetch the car. Obviously there is no need for them all to walk the 20 or so yards to work off the thousands of calories they just consumed. The representative has been chosen and the remaining three wait in front of the restaurant clutching their bags of carbs. Their gleeful expressions have been muted with guilt and annoyance as the ramifications of their feast have begun to set in. They’ll just have to start that diet tomorrow, it would seem. They stare blankly at the new customers heading in to start their own experience. The new generation of customers stares back at them, confused as to why their expressions are so glum. What they do not realize is that they are staring at their immediate future.
Let the Hunger Games Begin!