Monday, May 22, 2006

Best Laid Plans

Well. This is for all those whose husbands question my veracity. (Hi Erik! Got the axes all sharpened. So when is it you're moving out these parts? Dinner? Sounds lovely. Ariella and I will 'arrange things'.)

Kidding. Kidding!!!

And, now I have proof. Yes, yes. You all read comments from assorted family members and people purported to be lifelong friends, but of course I could have made them all up, signing in multiply under different aliases, creating various blogs. For all you know, I could be some guy in a dirty, torn undershirt, living in my mother's basement, not showering and perving around the 'net all day long. Really! And you'd never know.

But now, I can submit proof!

Two hardy, souls, only a little insane, and pleasantly so, met with me. ME! And drove countless hours to do so. Such unbelievable niceness!

Ayup! Me and Beth and DM actually met and ate food yesterday. Well, to be truthful, we met, talked and sort of ate something that was billed as food. Beth and I aren't totally convinced that was what it was, although Dana's entree didn't look like something you'd find in a kids' pretend plastic food assortment, so the lesson is: When in doubt, order what Dana does. At least you'll get food.

After a flurry of e-mails, we named the time (13:00) and the place (Prime Quarter Steak House), chosen by Beth, self admitted carnivore. As I am anal and have many quirks, one of which is worrying excessively about contingency plans, we came up with contingency plans, should the restaurant be flown off by aliens or something. (Hey. It's happened to me. Well, not the aliens part, but the restaurant that was supposed to be there, simply wasn't.) Tossing on my one pair of non-denim yet non-work pants and an initially clean shirt, I hopped in the car and headed off. Sadly, I had not taken into account the ongoing road construction, which had advanced far along the way, so instead of zipping along blacktop at 65, I grumbled along gravel at 35. Oh well. 10 minutes late, I found the place and found, not a mass murderer (Hi Erik!) or two, but the delightful, huggy, insane (for who drives 5 hours to meet with an internet friend for lunch?), but not criminally insane, Beth and DM. In person. In the empty parking lot. Now, to be fair, Beth had called me as I was driving along to tell me the carnivore restaurant was closed, so it was not a surprise at that point, but closed the restaurant remained. Bastards.

Beth needed beast. Amazingly, they had already scouted the area and found yet another steak house! A not-an-Outback steak house! We agreed that Outback was simply not terribly good and that The Ponderosa looked like the place for us. Food. Seating. People to bring us to the seating and then bring us the food. Those were our requirements. Oh, and that it not be outside where it was still quite chilly despite being May. (For heaven's sakes. We should all be in shorts and sandals for the next 5 months.)

Now, Beth and DM are notoriously fun people, and part of their 'fun' is that they invariably attract odd situations. Sorta like drunks to cocktails. (They are the cocktails, of course.) The Ponderosa proved to be all that. The World's Worst Meal, possibly, served in an completely wretched environment. Beth optimistically chose prime rib and regretted it. "Well, I can just have dessert" Hah. Nope. No dessert. I had fried shrimp, which I figured was fairly safe. Hah. No shrimp in the shrimp. Cold, old baked potatoes. Really old. Like baked during the Hoover administration. Dana had sirloin, which actually resembled and smelled like it came from a cow. Once.

We were seated across from a modest gathering celebrating, we learned, the 18th birthday of Jeremy (Jason? Jasper? Something J.) who looked anemically at the small square pile of frosting with 2 candles and a plastic geezer in the middle, while we all wheezed the Birthday Song at him. Poor kid. What sort of life is it when your 18th birthday is celebrated in this place?

Our waitress was rather frighteningly aggressive but rather adept at clearing large tables into grey plastic dish tubs, though. Sort of horrifying, really. But in a good way, because, you see, I was with BETH! and DM! and this was, obviously how it was supposed to be. So, after an awkward 1.2 miliseconds where we all drew breath and realized that we'd done it, the talking began. 2+1/2 hours later, I looked at my watch. And looked at it again. And realized I had told Charles that I'd be home no later than 3:30. Oops. Guess the definition of a friend can be said to be someone who you can sit with, in a horrible restaurant in an amazingly uncomfortable booth, for 2+1/2 hours and have no idea of the passage of time.

So. What are Beth and DM like? Well, exactly like their blogs, honestly. Funny. Bright. Articulate. Deeelightful. Easy to talk to (no surprise). Chock-full-o-stories of the odd and amazing. Devious. (Beth snuck in and paid for our lunches before I could do the same. Sneaky.) Endowed with cameras. And a tripod (Beth). They will regale you with tales of Canada and other things that I dare not spoil, on their blogs. They will have pictures, too. I got caught up in the talk and only took 2 photos in the end, both with Beth's tripod. (Yes, Johnny and Teri, I will send them to you soon. Promise.)

And after more hugging and promising to do this again, but at a decent restaurant, (or at least one that did not totally suck) we got in to our respective cars and headed away.

Surreal but wonderful. Maybe we'll upgrade to Outback next time, which suddenly doesn't seem that bad a restaurant, in retrospect.

Now, there. Doesn't that make you feel better?

Someone has heard from Beth and DM since they left me, right?



Blogger Teri said...

Well, Beth has posted on her blog - but not a word from DeeEm - so I'm guessing you somehow conned Beth's Blogger login out of her before you murdered her and posted on her blog, and they are buried out in your pastures in Swissville their... KIDDING!!!! Just Kidding!!

I so wish I could have joined you! It sounds better than my Sunday was. I'll e-mail you - not blogable.

5:09 PM  
Blogger Teri said...

(sighs loudly) there, I meant THERE, not their.

6:27 PM  
Anonymous Colleen said...

I'm thinking we need to see some photographic evidence of this so-called "meeting". Did you seriously think Ponderosa was a step above Outback??? How long have you been in the midwest again? Sounds like you "all" had a great time....if indeed there is/are more than one of you. hee hee hee

7:22 PM  
Blogger brooksba said...

Oh! I loved reading about yesterday. We had a lovely time and want to do it again soon (without the 3 hour traffic jam on the way home). Let's skip the Ponderosa next time, because, face it, it was retcid.

Let's not go to Outback though. Even though Ponderosa was worse, Outback is terrible too. We kept noticing other restaurants on the way out, like Country Kitchen, Pizza Hut - the Italian Bistro (or so the sign said), and Red Lobster.

Dana will probably be commenting when she gets back to work. Unless she steals my laptop and sneaks a few comments in.

Next time, we have to get Teri to join us. We'll find a way.

I'm so glad we met! It was completely awesome!

7:42 PM  
Blogger Rozanne said...


I *promise* you we can improve on Ponderosa when you come out to PDX. I recall eating at Ponderosas when I was in college. They're a chain (and there's an identical chain called Bonanza that's pretty prevalent as well). I totally know what you mean about the food looking like kids' pretend plastic food. The "steaks" had those fako grill marks on them, right?

7:42 PM  
Anonymous Kate W said...

5 hours!? I would have driven 5 hours for that kind of fun! I could have picked up Colleen on the way! sigh... I guess we're not "cool" enough... Just kidding! Sounds like you had a great time. I had lunch here with my imaginary friends too.

7:43 PM  
Blogger brooksba said...

Oh, and his name was Jeremy. The little figure was a Homie, or so I deduced when the server picked up and said, "I'm taking my Homie back."

7:45 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

Teri- We soooo wish you could have joined us. I think you would have laughed along with us. Of course, had you been there, it would have been 5pm before I checked my watch and Charles would have sent the police out to look for me. We'll have to figure out something so you can join us, too. Frankly, I'm astounded you can string 2 coherent words together, given your past week, month and year.

Colleen- Ah. The doubting Thomas. I'll see what I can arrange. I'd been to an Outback exactly once and had never heard of a Ponderosa. DM and Beth had been to the Ponderosa, but I think the recollection was that it had been before they turned 8. Unless that was the last time KFC was the birthday restaurant of choice. I get mixed up. I'm sure someone will set me straight.

7:53 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

Beth! See, everybody! Beth! She's still alive! And not messily murdered! I thought it was particulary funny that we were all nice about the food at the start, worried that we'd offend each other or something. Sheesh. Missed out on a good 30 minutes of serious mocking. OK. I'm nixing Country Kitchen. There's one in Freeport. Not a good thing.

So poor Jeremy didn't even get to take Homie home? That bites. I was obviously facing the wrong direction.

Rozanne- I don't think Portland has the equivalent of the wretchedness of the Ponderosa. Truly spectacular. Fako everything.

Kate- Hah. You know you're cool when you tease that you're not cool. Cincinnati isn't THAT far. Someday.

8:02 PM  
Blogger Teri said...

Ella's Deli - if it's still open - is quite good as deli food goes - sandwiches and what-have-you. They're the place with the carousel on the east side of Madison - there's also a location closer to campus, I believe.

Also - if you like Chinese, the Hong Kong Cafe is pretty good - easily some of the best Chinese I've had in the midwest.

I rarely eat steak, and when I do, it's when C grills it, so I can't help you on the search for that - so sorry...

9:05 PM  
Blogger The Lioness said...

You met, YOU MET, I'm so excited I'm doing the Snoopy Dance! Now everyone pile up into a car and drive 15 h to meet me. Or so.


You were polite abt the horrid food? This is why you need me there, no wastage of time, ever! And yes, aren't they EXACTLY like they write? It's uncanny. They're brill.

Now, for the piling up - GIT!

2:16 AM  
Blogger The Lioness said...

Oh, and of course the restaurant would be closed and madness would ensue, the three of you together unleash some rather powerful forces in allknown universes and netherverses.

2:17 AM  
Anonymous Gerah said...

I'm pounding my head on the keyboard. Ponderosa!!!?

I hate to be a food snob here, but, like Rozanne, I recall the last time I ate at a Ponderosa I was in college and with a group of very hungover friends and even then it was awful...

Sounds like fun was had by all, regardless.

7:06 AM  
Blogger Diana said...

Teri- See? All your fault. You needed to have been there to save us from ourselves.

Johnny- It was pre-ordained, was it not? They are completely brilliant. See, the world thinks Americans are all aggressive. Not in our restaurants. Nosiree. We fear the wrath of the cook and meekly accept utter shite. Especially those of us who've worked in restaurants. Beth was beyond brave and sent her initial piece of black shoe-bottom that was supposed to be red shoe-bottom back. She did get demi-pink shoe-bottom in return. Minus the au jus.

Now we just need to find a hovercar to make that 15 hour transatlantic drive.

Gerah- Live and learn, eh? The story would not have been as fun, though, had it been: Met Beth and DM, had the most gorgeous meal, talked for hours; my, what a smart, happy kid Jeremy was, choosing to celebrate his 18th birthday in such a succulent restaurant.

8:24 AM  
Anonymous Ariella said...

This is hilarious. I will show it to Erik so perhaps he will refer to you as something than "your internet friend." I was teasing him about it last night and he said (semi-seriously), "Back when the internet was new, we heard all these stories about men posing as teenage girls to lure other teenage girls! Now people are meeting! It's crazy." Clearly he did not embrace the internet age as cloesly as some of us did.

I'm hoping that the "J-kid" whose birthday was celebrated had at least one other celebration where someone baked him a real cake. Otherwise I think that experience may very well lead him to a life of crime.

Erik has promised to make his homemade oatmeal honey bread for when you guys come over. That, in and of itself, is cause for celebration!

9:49 AM  
Blogger Diana said...

I've grown rather fond of YOUR INTERNET FRIEND, actually. 'YIF' for short? I am an absolute fresh baked bread whore, so I can say that Erik may call me anything he wants in exchange for bread.

10:01 AM  
Blogger moegirl said...

Except for the food sounds like a boatload of fun...sounds fun to meet people you probably feel like you know so well!

1:19 PM  
Blogger Jamie said...

Wow, what a great blogmeet! I shudder at the Ponderosa, but that will probably make the memories all the more special. :-)

Now, Ella's Deli is another matter...*drool*...I used to go there every time I passed through Madison! I actually like the downtown one better than the one with the carousel because there are fewer children throwing chopped liver.

1:28 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

Stace- That's it, exactly. After reading each other's lives and chatting for about a year, we felt we knew each other well, yet had never actually met. We had inside jokes, lots of people in common to talk about, the whole shebang.

Jamie- Mmmmm. Two votes for Ella's deli. Definitely on my list, now. Doesn't this blogging thing completely rock? I am so with you on the badly behaved children throwing food. And me a mom.

2:32 PM  
Blogger CarpeDM said...

I heart Ella's Deli. Dave, my 2nd boyfriend when I lived in Madison (the 17 year old one (yes, I am a criminal. I was 24. Does anyone know if there's a statue (statute?) of limitations on statutory rape? And does it count if the minor is a guy?) took me there on our 2nd date. Our first date was at a lovely steakhouse - which is now the Outback we turned our noses up at. If only we had known better.

It was so great meeting you. We had a wonderful time and can't wait to do it again - skipping the Ponderosa and the very large traffic jam caused by that semi jack-knifing.

Now we just need to get Johnny to come to America and find a good excuse to get Teri to join our group. That would be fun!

11:32 AM  
Anonymous Leigh-Ann said...

Flippy and I have been lucky enough to have met many, many of our online friends -- some of them have even stayed in our house and lived to tell the tale! We didn't get along perfectly with everyone, and there are just some people who you mesh with better in an online environment, but every meeting has been fun and memorable. Even Flippy and I met online, so perhaps that's why we're so open to the idea.

That last sentence about being "open" made it sound a bit like an ad for "swinging singles and threesomes", but I swear, it was just coffee.

3:02 AM  

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