applebees is lame

So who can guess which of the following happened on a recent trip to a nearby "neighborhood restaurant"?
a. we were told a wait of 20 minutes, but actually waited an hour
b. we had an obnoxious waiter who yelled across the long table (with 12 people) to take our orders
c. a table of 15 guys all came over and sang happy birthday to one brittany in our group
d. the whole ordeal took over 3 hours

Well i'm sure the clever among you know that the answer is e. all of the above. and while c. was actually somewhat enjoyable, it was probably the one redeeming moment of the night (aside from the wonderful company of course). I could probably have added a few more letters, but no need to get too bitchy.

I hadn't been to Applebees in some time. I was completely overwhelmed by the noise of that place. It's everywhere, all over the walls, the tvs, the balloons, the lighting, the people. What is it that makes us want to go to it in a place like that? Is it that there is so much going on around us that we don't have to hear the silence of a quiet meal? All so we can eat over-priced mass produced food with no character or individuality?

There was a young family at the table next to us. A couple with two small children, one still a baby. They were mostly quiet. The little girl enjoyed her dessert. The man sat with a lost stare on his face. It seemed as if he couldn't hear any of the noise around, or perhaps it all thundered out anything else. Or maybe he was just tired from waking up in the night to attend to his children. I didn't see the couple make eye contact most of the meal.

Nights like that sometimes make me think that I don't quite fit into a culture like this. Maybe I would do better in a place like Europe. But then I think about those around the table and others I love, and getting away to eat amazing bbq in a gas station, and I smile. There's a whole lot of culture here in this country--even in a place like manhattan kansas. And you really get to pick your own a lot of the time. Some of it is an illusion of choice yes. But then at the same time we all have the opportunity to create our own culture. We really do. Maybe you can do that anywhere, but for some reason in all my travels I feel like that is something unique about here. Maybe just because here is home and I know people who want to do that too, but maybe it's more than that.


  1. :) luke i like that you can get bitchy. and i think the crux of it all is that "this is home" and not necessarily the place but the people you have "chosen" to be around.

    ps what is the difference between applebees noise and old chicagos? i think it's the ceiling height myself.

  2. i dig those thoughts man, not merely because Applebees really does suck, but because of your comments on culture and being a part of change.

    i wonder if the feeling of empowerment in changing manhattan's culture (or wherever home is) comes from the fact that it's your culture. You own it, you fit in with it, and so you have the capacity to either propegate it or slowly influence it. it just seems like something really cool happens when something goes from being foreign to yours.

    for me the noise @ Old Chicago is completely justifiable with what you get: Woodchuck on tap, the trio sampler platter, not a bunch of crap on the walls, a cool atmosphere...

  3. very good point graham...