Thursday, July 13, 2006

Cheesecake, Dead Beavers, and Other Midwestern Adventures

A few weeks ago I vowed that to get into the spirit of Colorado I would attend a megachurch and eat at a Cheesecake Factory, the Garden of Gluttony that boasts of 200 menu items, and of which New York City has long been deprived.

I still haven't slid my (now bigger than ever!) butt into a pew at a church where sermons tend to revolve around topics NOT EVEN MENTIONED IN THE BIBLE (i.e., abortion), and to be frank, I'm usually out camping on the weekends, admiring God's creation and all that, so it might not happen at all.

But, dear reader, I have fearlessly crossed the double-wide rubicon that is the threshold to the Cheesecake Factory, and have lived to tell of a menu that would choke a famine victim with envy just by glancing at the four-page appetizer selection.

The Cheesecake Factory's slogan is "Something for Everyone!" (often code for "Nothing for Anyone!") and I wanted to see what all the fat-assed fuss was about. Last night, being in the mood for a 12,000-calorie meal, I dragged my pregnant sister into her car and set off to the mall (even more authetically suburban!). I figured if anyone was ready to strap on the feedbag, it was someone who was already eating for two. Of course, eating for only two is, by Cheesecake Factory standards, conservative -- as I was about to find out.

Appetizers included carboriffic sounding selections such as fried macaroni and cheese balls (fried! cheese! balls!), Tex Mex eggrolls and fried Taquitos, but I pushed us toward something lighter so we could gorge ourselves on three entire courses. We tried the Vietnamese Shrimp Summer Rolls and, I must grudgingly admit, they were totally yummy, and not even overly filling. Ramping it up for the mains, I dove into a platter -- no way you could describe something that big as a "plate" -- of shrimp scampi. Slightly dried out from the heat lamp, it was nevertheless more than passable. And the plain cheesecake, which we shared for dessert, was nothing to sneeze at either (though undoubtedly, one of the underpaid immigrants in the kitchen probably did just that). The service was friendly and quick and my bottomless glass of mango iced tea was super refreshing.

So, I can't even bitch about the Cheesecake Factory. What I *can* bitch about (you knew there had to be something) is the other patrons of the Cheesecake Factory.

There are two types of people who eat at a Cheesecake Factory: people so thin that you wonder how they've ever dined at a Cheesecake Factory, and people so fat that they should never eat at a Cheesecake Factory.

It was a group of the former that really caught my attention. Standing in the vestibule of the CF with me and my sister was a 40-something mom, a teenage daughter, a 60-something grandmother. The grandmother and mother were both wearing sequined gold jackets and hooker heels showing off gnarly feet and fresh pedicures. They obviously thought they had it "going on," though these ladies, believe me, were obviously the key market for "KY Sensual Mist Warming Personal Lubricant." Can you say "dried up old biddies"?

Meanwhile, both were so bird-leg thin that I feared their imminent collapse under the weight of their hair. And why was that? Each was wearing her own mismatched shade of piled-up fake-hair ponytail that looked like an overteased 60's updo -- or dead beaver, take your pick.

I was looking at them in awe and disgust when my sister said, "Ugh, there's ONE trend I hope goes away soon!" and I was like, "Wait, wearing roadkill on your head is a TREND out here?" And she says, "Yeah, they have a whole kiosk of fake hair in the mall -- and in Sioux Falls, they have a WHOLE STORE full of it!" Sure enough, when we waddled out of the fried-food emporium, there was an entire square in the middle of the mall sporting every shade and length of man-made pelt.

The midwest is weird. Fat people eating entire rounds of cheesecake, and anorexic grannies wearing dead beavers on their heads.


Blogger Mike said...

Well, there's one place I've never been...

8:00 PM  
Anonymous Savannah Gal said...

It's ironic that you posted about beaver heads because my second job is a part-time gig at a mall and there's a faux hair kiosk outside my store. I said to my co-worker last night, "The only thing grosser than fake hair is trying on the fake hair at a suburban mall in the summer." Ick.

BTW - LOVE YOUR BLOG! I've been reading for a few weeks now and laugh everytime I read it! Cheers!

9:41 AM  
Anonymous BklynJace said...

Did you get the huge beeper that goes off when your table was ready? Back in suburban Washington a million years ago, we wanted to steal ours just to find out how long it would go off. But then we got too hungry.

11:16 AM  
Blogger Had To Move said...

I DID get the huge beeper and I had to keep resisting the urge to stick it down my pants like some teenage boy.

savannah -- the thought of trying those things on after they've been on everyone else's sweaty noggins totally makes me shudder. thanks for reading. :)

11:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ugh, the midwest suburbs, totally gross compadre! I mean, what an uproarious tale!

1:16 AM  

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