Anne-Marie Remington of Naperville, IL purchased an all-you-can-eat Endless Pasta Bowl pass to her local Olive Garden with an eye toward sampling all conceivable combinations of the Olive Garden pasta menu.
“The endless soup and salad are really just a tease for me, you know, to get me in the door. What I’m totally fixated on is the crazy selection of Olive Garden pasta dishes. That’s why I bought the pass; just thought I’d dive in head first. I mean, with the Cucina Mia Create Your Own Pasta Bowl it’s pretty much sky’s the limit!”
What Anne-Marie didn’t expect was to find herself growing addicted to another Olive Garden enticement, something so easily forgettable; an afterthought. She found herself getting hooked on the little Andies Candies mint and chocolate treats that Olive Garden slips into the leatherette case that holds the bill.
“I guess you could say it took me by surprise. I always fancied myself a carboholic, bread, cereal, chips…pasta, obviously. But after about a half dozen visits to The Garden I realized that I was just mindlessly chowing through the endless pasta bowls to get to the check. And those little, green foil wrapped bites of heaven. I began to ritualize eating them, slowly unwrapping that perfectly folded little envelope, revealing the rectangular brown and green vision inside. The snap of that first bite, and then it was all over; I just wolfed the rest. I found myself asking for seconds…and thirds. I knew I had a problem.”
Soon she was at her local Naperville Olive Garden in the Fox Valley Mall seven nights a week. The wait staff even held a table for her and the seating hostess made a little folded name card that said “Reserved for Anne-Marie Remington – Endless Pasta Bowl Awesome Customer”.
“Of course I was gaining tons of weight, but I didn’t care, I really didn’t care. It got so bad at one point that I found myself standing in the local Staples Office Supply staring at a 250 count jar of Andes Candies meant for like, someone’s desk or something. When I came to and realized I was still standing there, just staring, an employee was asking me if I needed help. I didn’t know how long I had been standing there like that. I just whispered, “Yes, I need help” and ran out. I could see his red employee shirt out of the corner of my eye as he followed me out of the store asking what I was looking for, his little name tag “Friendly Staples Associate Mitch How Can I Help You?” bouncing on his shirt. I just kept running. I had hit rock bottom. I was so ashamed.”
It’s been six months since Marie has been inside of either an Olive Garden or a Staples Office Supply store and with the help of “Overeaters Anonymous” she is beginning to gain some perspective, and new friends.
“I found like five other “Endless Pasta Bowl Pass” owners at my meeting and we’ve pretty much bonded together as a group of survivors. Survivors of the most delicious and insidious festival of gluttony since Potbelly’s A Wreck.”
One thing Anne-Marie has kept to herself, however, is that her particular fixation wasn’t on the Bucatini and Five Cheese Marinara or the Giant Rigatoni with Spicy Three Meat or even the Whole Wheat Linguini with Asiago Alfredo but the little addiction bombs wrapped in green foil like some kind of a pre-Christmas gift from food addiction hell.
“Yeah. Everyone else in my little OGOEA crew, that’s Olive Garden Overeaters Anonymous, by the way, is hooked on one of the dishes from their menu and I front that my addiction is to the Cavatappi with Creamy Bacon and Sun Dried Tomato. I don’t want them to feel like I don’t, you know, belong so I keep the Andies Candies part private. I’ve made tons of progress; I basically won’t go within five miles of The Garden and that’s been super helpful. And the thought of a Staples Office Supply literally gives me the shakes.”
Anne-Marie grows contemplative, her face taking on a dreamy, slightly troubled look.“I still dream about them, you know. In one I was actually inside that desktop jar of all those little green monsters and I was swimming and yelling and just as I was about to unwrap one I woke up. That night I didn’t get back to sleep. But I won’t give up…I won’t give up. It’s a journey.”