First off, I need to make sure y’all understand that I am not an Italian food snob. I mean, I’ve had amazing authentic Italian, at little places I can’t name because there’s exactly one location and I remember it when I’m in the neighborhood (you know how it goes, right? Please tell me I’m not the only one who navigates/feeds herself like this) so I do know what good is. It’s fucking amazing and leaves you food drunk and unable to properly contemplate your next meal, even many hours later, because nothing will ever be quite that tasty.
But I’m also a sucker for Olive Garden.
Don’t you dare judge me. We all have our weaknesses – at least I admit mine!
Right, now that you’ve got some context, I’m going to rewind a bit and take you back to Maine, I forget the year. I can’t actually recall if Husband and I were married yet, to be honest. I do know that his mother was asking earlier in the day if Husband and Emily still spoke, and if there was any chance of a reconciliation there, but that doesn’t mean anything… she’s still “forgetting” about me to this day, and refers to our son as “like family.”*
Anyway, we were all piled into FIL’s SUV, “driving” through their quiet little podunk town, and I saw a sign for a new (this may help some of you date the story) thing I’d never seen before. Y’all remember this?
Husband and I cracked. Up. There was a wealth of material to be mined from this sign, and since it took us nearly ten minutes to fully pass it (remember that thing where my father-in-law drives really really slow? Yeah, not one of my colorful exaggerations) we were free to do so at our leisure.
ME: Oh. My. Gawd. So fancy!
HIM: Seriously, who’s fooled by that sign? Who is looking at that and not expecting it to be a Pizza Hut inside?
ME: No, you don’t understand. They also have two different pastas. This is legit.
HIM: God, I can’t believe they’re even trying that.
ME: Hey, maybe they have pasta in a pizza crust!**
Okay, looking back, we were maybe being jerks. But I need to point out a couple of things in our defense before I tell you the one thing that makes it worse/funnier:
- My in-laws were in the front seat laughing right along with us.
- Hell, my father-in-law slowed down even more to chime in with a few wise cracks of his own. It’s not like we were the big city slickers mocking the country bumpkins in their own car.
- The big sign out front? The Bistro part was in fancy script.
So I think we can all agree that the mockery was totally justified, right?
Okay, see, this is the bit where I maybe need to back up and explain how there was one more person in the car, and why that person was not joining in on the mockery of the “fancy hut.”
I haven’t yet introduced you to Husband’s sister.
We should name her. I feel like that’s a good place to start. Let’s call her… Alice. Because that is absolutely not her name and bears no resemblance to her name, which is an unusual spelling of a more masculine name and is also made of the letters of Husband’s name, only rearranged. (I mention this so you can get an idea of just how far back their sibling issues go.)
Anyway, Alice was a victim of both Middle Child and Youngest syndromes, owing in part to some poor parenting decisions (more on those later) and also her own… issues.
She once tried to bleach her hair using color-safe Clorox 2, y’all. ‘Nuff said.
Alice was in the seat behind ours, and she was staying quiet and I thought nothing of it.
I also – and seriously, if I wasn’t telling the story in this order you wouldn’t connect the dots either – had completely forgotten that Alice had mentioned earlier in the day that she wanted us all to go out to dinner at a new Italian restaurant she’d heard about. She raved about how authentic it was and I figured what the hell, anything’s better than letting Husband’s mother cook!
(Remember the turkey?)
So later that afternoon, Husband came to me and told me that Alice was upset. Because apparently the pseudo-bistro we’d all mocked was the “new Italian place” she’d been so excited to try.
“But… it’s a Pizza Hut,” I pointed out.
“Yeah, and it’s Alice. She still hasn’t figured out how I always picked our Saturday morning cartoons.”*** My jaw hung open a moment at that, and he rushed on, “Obviously we’re not going, but… she’s butthurt. And I knew you’d think that was funny, so… I’m telling you.”
He just gets me, you know?
* And people ask why we’re not close.
** They totally did. Still do, don’t they?
*** Okay, the Saturday morning cartoon thing. Harried parents tell the kids to fuck off and work it out on Saturdays, because Mommy and Daddy want to sleep in. So young someday-Husband came up with a perfectly agreeable compromise: he would choose the show at the top of the hour, and she could choose the show at the half hour, and so they would alternate through the morning. Sounds fair, right? Well sure, if you’re not an asshole who picks hour-long shows every time. By thirty minutes in, she’d be engrossed enough to not notice that her turn was coming up and they’d just keep watching until it was his turn again. And it’s true, she apparently still doesn’t understand that hour-long shows don’t start on the half-hour and therefore it was a rigged system. Like I said, issues.