I’m sitting at a table with friends, drinking a bucket of cheap beer. I’ve just knocked back my third Jell-O shot, which is so strong that I’m beginning to suspect that they were mixed by an already drunk cook and are not being sold legally. (And which brings my total expenditure on Jell-O shots for the night to three dollars.) All the while I’m sampling a spread of mozzarella sticks, spinach and artichoke dip, and boneless wings.
My night is rich with laughter, liquor, cheeses, and meats. But I’m an idiot?
I’m out to dinner with friends at Applebee’s and I’m having the time of my damn life. The only way I’m walking out of that restaurant having spent a hundred dollars is if I wanted to order enough food to make Applebee’s leftovers my groceries for the week, or if I wanted to commit suicide via either Bud Light or Jell-O shots.
And I bet if I posted an Instagram pic of me living my best life at this chain restaurant across the parking lot from a Best Buy it’d get more likes than your pic* in front of a brick wall that has “La Vie Bohème” spraypainted on it at some Asian-fusion taco house and cocktail lounge that does neither Asian nor tacos well, and charges ten times as much for a drink with the same color and one fifth the booze of my Jell-O shot.
*Point not valid if you are a hot girl.
You know what Applebee’s would have spray painted on one of its brick walls? “Welcome to Applebee’s. Do whatever the hell you want.” Applebee’s is the embodiment of what America was founded on. The rejection of aristocracy — of loftiness. The will of the people. Paying less for stuff.
Despite my cheap shot at try hard trendy restaurants above, I’m not advocating against unique or local restaurants. You should always support local businesses and innovative ideas (if they’re good). This column is just about keeping your options open. About appreciating simple, dependable staples that can be taken for granted. Plus it’s not like when you eat at Applebee’s all the money goes into a corporate bank account. Until robots are both deep frying and delivering my mozz sticks, quite a bit of what I’m spending is going back into the local economy. Especially my tip. And even then, who’s maintaining those robots? Local robot maintenance workers, that’s who.
Maybe the best part about going to Applebee’s is the total abandonment of thought that comes with it. Not because Applebee’s is dumb, but rather because they don’t require you to think. Or try. Or care. So drop the pretense from time to time and embrace the casual. I promise you, when you’re at Applebee’s, the casual will embrace you back. And like that fresh plate of Fiesta Lime Chicken that just got dropped off at your table, that embrace is warm.
Applebee’s isn’t “Eatin’ Good in the Neighborhood.” It’s “Eatin’ (and Drinkin’) Care Free Like You’re At Home, Wearin’ Gym Shorts, in Front of Your TV.” My God, it’s wonderful.