The DC Experience /// A Cold Tale Regarding Pride and Gluttony

In the time since my last post, I once again found myself the victim of my own appetite, though this time the culprit was not Buffalo Wild Wings, rather, it was Chili’s. I arrived to the restaurant voracious, and, similar to my last scenario, this proved to be my ultimate undoing. Upon being seated, the server handed me the menu, and after briefly scanning all of my options, I found myself giddy with excitement at the possibilities.

One particular area of the menu caught my eye: that is, the $20 dinner for two section. This included one appetizer and two full entrees… no strings attached. I briefly considered the pros and cons of pursuing this. The pros? I could have delicious low/mid-tier restaurant quality food for a bargain, and as an out-of-state student living in DC, I will seize just about any bargain possible. Another pro was that I could enjoy a nice, eclectic mix of delicious foods for dinner. I was not chained to my dish exclusively; I had the flexibility to branch out and try my chances at three (3!!!) different food items. Having a problem with your bacon cheeseburger? No problem! You have an appetizer AND an entree, which should more than make up for it. I was allured by this possibility, seduced by this prospect. The cons? My main concern was that I would not be able to finish all of my food, and it would just find itself in my fridge for two and a half weeks before I threw it away untouched. Beyond that, I would have to live in perpetual shame with myself, knowing that I single-handedly devoured two full entrees and an appetizer alone in one sitting.

As soon as our server arrived to take our order, I inquired about the $20 dinner for two, still indecisive of my plans. He assured me that it is pretty common for people to get it for themselves, usually packing up one of the entrees and bringing it home. That was not something I was about to do. Perhaps it was my hubris that prevented me from pursuing this reasonable course of action – instead, I scoffed to myself, thinking of the lightweight plebes who could not handle this meal in one sitting. I proudly declared my intentions to order the $20 dinner for two with the following items: flatbread margherita pizza as my appetizer, and a 6 oz. sirloin steak and Honey Chipotle Chicken Crispers as my entrees. The waiter asked me once more, perhaps in an effort to persuade me to reconsider, whether I was to have any of this packed up. I was taken aback and slightly offended by this offer, and now made it my personal mission to prove him wrong and validate my self-worth by eating this entire meal. Blinded by a lethal combination of hunger and arrogance, I set forth in mentally preparing myself for the upcoming events. I was certainly hungry, but was I pushing it? Time would tell.

I began by inhaling my flatbread margherita pizza in just a few minutes, and though it was not necessarily delicious by any means, it was edible. That is the beauty of the $20 dinner for two – I had a safety net of two more food items to comfort me if/when one is lackluster.

Several minutes after finishing the pizza, I could feel all 700 calories of it beginning to settle in my stomach. Nevertheless, I remained steadfast in my goal, pushing aside all mental roadblocks and readying myself for the main course meals that would be the ultimate determinant in this battle for my self-worth. I had the entire establishment of Chili’s betting against me. I flashed back to about 15 minutes prior, when my server insultingly offered to pack one of my entrees for me, doubting my capacity to finish all that I had ordered. He once again showed shades of his smug sense of self when he returned with my entrees, condescendingly placing them in front of me. I knew that I had to get to work immediately, so I started with the 6 oz. sirloin. It was on the ‘light’ options section of the menu, so I figured that it would be easiest to take down. Thankfully, I was correct in this assumption, and five minutes later, I was onto my next entree. The Honey Chipotle Chicken Crispers, on the other hand, were an entirely different animal, both figuratively and literally. Ordinarily, it is a very hefty meal by itself – in retrospect, this coupled with an appetizer and another full entree is a little too ambitious. But this was no ordinary night. I was out to prove myself to my haters. I was driven not only by my physical hunger, but fueled by my desire to satiate the doubters who had ever questioned my ability to finish my food. I started off strong and pounded them with callous disregard, the memory of my waiter fresh in my mind. But as time went on, my pace grew slower, and it was not long before I was reluctantly trudging through my meal. Failure was not an option for me. I mustered every last bit of resolve from every crevice in my stomach, and willed myself to finish the meal and alas, my spirit triumphed. Relief was my first reaction upon finishing this gargantuan meal, shortly followed by shame. I had just ingested >2300 calories in one sitting. That is repulsive. Though it was slightly gratifying to see the flabbergasted expression on my waiter’s face upon collecting my dishes, it did not compare to my miserable physical state.

The aftermath was unpleasant to say the least. I spent the rest of the night sitting on my couch, groaning about my stomach pains. We had company over at our apartment that night, but I could not deal with interacting with anyone at that time. I felt like one of those teenagers in the Above The Influence commercials, completely flat and collapsed on my couch. I fell asleep shortly thereafter at about 11 PM. What was once a night filled with valor and determination turned into a gluttonous ego-trip which I wholeheartedly regretted.

Had my waiter never instigated me to finish my meal, I imagine that my night at Chili’s would have been pleasant. But because he blatantly challenged me to eat all of the food that I ordered, I could not provide him with the satisfaction of coming away victorious. While I certainly won the battle, I have come to the conclusion that he won the war. I am sure he predicted the aftermath I would incur, goading me in an effort to bring forth my imminent self-destruction in a timely fashion. My hubris, determination, and desire to prove myself ended up facilitating my ultimate downfall. But I will not issue a sweeping declaration proclaiming the end of my affiliation with the Chili’s chain. This was my own fault, and I assume full responsibility for the events that transpired on this fateful night, and I have learned a valuable lesson about my limits, as well as the price of arrogance.