A friend of mine compared me to Rob Lowe the other day. I was initially thrilled – after all, he’s still considered eye candy by the ladies, right? Only she wasn’t referring to the man himself or his looks but, rather, to his character on Parks And Recreation, Chris Traeger.
First off, I have to say that Parks And Recreation has surpassed the aging-but-still-funny The Office as my favorite sitcom (though on any given day the ever-creative and witty How I Met Your Mother and the likably nutty Modern Family might also be in the running). Parks & Rec, though – week after week, it delivers huge laughs, thanks to its terrific ensemble cast of characters.
Rob Lowe’s Chris Traeger is cheerful, optimistic, and never has a bad thing to say about anybody or anything. Every meal is “literally” the best he’s ever tasted, and he’s so polite and friendly that his girlfriend didn’t even realize he’d broken up with her. Apparently, it is my penchant to wax enthusiastically over everything I try, do or see that has earned me this comparison. As much as I hate to admit it, my friend is right.
Take last week, for instance. I went to the movies to see Source Code. She asked me how it was, and I said, “Great movie! I loved it!”
“You loved Insidious last week,” she pointed out.
“Yes, yes! Another excellent film!”
“And the week before that, you were raving about Limitless.”
“Limitless was awesome!”
“One of these days,” she said, “You’re going to end up seeing a movie you don’t love. I can’t wait until that happens.”
OK, first: whatever! Second – what can I say? I only go see movies that I think I’ll really enjoy in the first place. Then again, I’ve seen a lot of movies this year, thanks to unemployment + $5 Tuesdays at the local cineplex. And pretty much to a T, I’ve raved over every one of them. Except for The Rite, although I did go on and on about Anthony Hopkins’ brilliant performance.
And then, as if to underscore her point, I ordered a new pizza – the Combo Magnifique – from Papa Murphy’s last week, and when she asked how it was, I replied in my usual manner. “Oh my god, delicious! That was literally the best pizza I’ve ever had from Papa Murphy’s. My new favorite.”
Even though we were talking on the phone, she rolled her eyes. I know she did.
“There you go again,” she said. “It’s just like the movies. Every time you tell me about a meal you’ve eaten, you describe it as being ‘delicious’ and tell me how much you loved it. Don’t you ever eat anything you don’t like? Huh, Chris Traeger? Huh??”
The short answer is, of course! I don’t like everything that’s put down in front of me. Try to spoon Brussel’s sprouts onto my plate and you might just lose your hand! And yet, once again, I have to reluctantly agree that my friend is right, for the most part. I do tend to extol the virtues of pretty much every meal I eat, whether it’s homemade, or served to me in a restaurant, food cart, or drive-through window.
This trait does not run in the family. My brother, for instance, tends to be “choosier” (to put it diplomatically, since he’s probably reading). Less inclined to heap praise on an experience. He enjoys writing reviews on Yelp, and was telling me about all the times he has sent meals back in his life. This wasn’t really surprising to me; last year he came up for a visit, and we ordered the seasonal onion rings from Burgerville. They emerged from the kitchen a little blackened, and my brother was immediately up in arms over this. He complained to the staff and sent them back. Me? I ate them anyway, and enjoyed them immensely. They tasted great! The manager explained that late in the season the acid content in the onions changes and they tend to come out of the fryer a little darker than normal, an explanation that worked fine for me. I got to thinking about it, and I have never – not even once – sent back a meal in a restaurant because I didn’t enjoy it. One time I ordered steak and eggs for breakfast and the steak was served really rare. I like it pink inside, but this was red. And yet, I ate it anyway, and in fact marveled over the delicious hash browns that came with the meal. Hello, the name’s Chris Traeger. Nice to meet you.
Even my dad tried to “send back” the tri-tip roast my mom cooked for Easter dinner yesterday because it was slightly overdone. Sheesh. I, of course, praised it. Hey, the flavor was excellent. Turned out to be a really, really good meal.
She did once make an eggplant dish that I wasn’t fond of, though. Proving that even I have my limits. (Sorry, mom).
So, I don’t know if I’m just easy to please or really forgiving. Maybe I set the bar low. My ex would always say the meals she ordered in restaurants couldn’t match her home cooking and weren’t worth the expense, while I would be raving about my Caesar salad and pointing out the delicious, buttery crunch of my sole almondine.
Which was literally the best fish I’d ever had in my life…
- Parks and Recreation: “Soulmates” (chicagonow.com)
- ‘Parks and Recreation’: Crazy little thing called love (popwatch.ew.com)