Good afternoon, sir. Table for one? No? You’d like to speak with a manager? Well, that would be me. How can I help you?
Oh, what splendid news. What a joyous day! Heavens, let me catch my breath. Yes, Red Lobster would be delighted to assist with your marriage proposal. I’ve been waiting for this day for years. I’ve imagined every detail.
Let me tell you my vision.
First, I’ll seat you at our most romantic table. We don’t normally take reservations, but I’m going to write down your name and the date of the blessed event on this Post-It and stick it to the hostess station. You’re going to love this booth—it’s got a great view of the side parking lot and the trees on the median. Plus, you can barely see the door to the kitchen. Just let me put my head between my knees for a moment. No, no, I’ll be fine.
Let’s talk food. Your timing couldn’t be perfecter, because we’re in the midst of BisqueFest™, but only through the end of the month. For just $14.99, you and your first mate can dine on all of our finest bisques, including Lobster, Crayfish, and Barnaclé. Oh, my goodness, how fortunate that BisqueFest™ is still happening. Can you imagine trying to propose otherwise?
It’s all happening. It’s all really happening.
On to entrees! The Admiral’s Feast is always a splendid choice. Perhaps the lady would enjoy our Shrimp Linguine Alfredo or Parrot Isle Jumbo Coconut Shrimp. Really, you can order whatever you like for dinner in the moment. You don’t have to decide now. Forgive me, I’m getting carried away, but I can see it all so clearly.
In case your nerves get the better of you, I can arrange for a Lobsterita®, Alotta Colada™, or Shrimpwreck Mary® to be hand-delivered before you pop the question. All you have to do is give your server the international hand signal of Red Lobster employees: Hold up both hands in a “C” formation and touch your fingertips to your thumbs at a rapid pace, like the frantic claws of a lobster who knows he is headed to his certain death. Oh, how long I have sympathized with the plight of that unfortunate lobster. Until today. Today, everything changes.
I forgot to ask — are you a member of our Fresh Catch Club? Superb. Let me call our Restaurant Support Center and see if I can secure permission to utilize your free birthday dessert on a non-birthday day.
I’ll arrange for Danny, our busboy who’s always on his phone, to capture video on the sly. After she says yes, you’ll go into the kitchen to pose for a photo with our head grillmaster, Juan, or our assistant grillmaster, Juan Two, depending on who’s scheduled that night. I’ll reach out to our corporate Twitter account and ask them to congratulate you by name, although those kinds of requests usually take a few weeks to get approved.
And if the young lady needs any convincing, I can to escort her to the salad station and have a frank talk about the perils of middle-aged singledom.
Yes, I suppose I have been thinking about a night like this for quite some time. Hoping. Longing. Praying.
Wait, what? The Olive Garden? Oh, no. No no no. You don’t want to propose over there. They’ll bungle the whole thing, just like they bungled the 2010 Darden Restaurants Slow Pitch Softball Showdown. Please, let me take care of this for you. Please. It is my destiny. I’m prepared to do whatever it takes to make sure you two live happily ever after.
My very life depends on it.
I’m serious! You think you’re the first person to propose here? Ha! Fifteen years ago, on a night just like this, another young man walked through this very door: a glimmer in his eye, a spring in his step, and a ring in his pocket.
She was a lovely girl with hair as black as squid ink and a heart as tender as our Parmesan-Crusted Tilapia. But when she bit into a fresh, warm Cheddar Bay Biscuit, she didn’t know there was a cubic zirconia inside. She chewed. She choked. She died.
And the young man?
The young man wasn’t me, fortunately, but I was the high school server who delivered the basket of death-biscuits to the poor girl’s doorstep. And as she rolled out of the restaurant on a stretcher, the ghost of Captain R. Lobster himself appeared in a cloud of Old Bay. With a wave of his crab mallet, he cursed me to work at this very location for the rest of my days, or until I could successfully unite two young lovers in One True Engagement. It’s the only thing that will break the evil spell and release me from this fast-casual nightmare.
Yes, it’s been 15 years since anyone else proposed here.
But now is the time! Now is my chance! I’ll be free! Free! Free to pursue my life, to find true love of my own, to wash off the stink of 15 years of flash-frozen, deep-fried clam strips. To finally live the dreams I’ve only dreamed of living.
What dreams, you ask? I’ve heard things are pretty good at the Longhorn Steakhouse.
Now, let’s talk lighting.
Bizzy Coy is a writer. She was once chastised by Angela Lansbury and it was all downhill from there.
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