Last Christmas my second younger sister got me a gift card to Red Lobster, and it has been burning a hole in my pocket ever since. I don’t know about you, but I am one of those people who will keep gift cards for all eternity. I don’t know why I hold on to them. I think I keep feeling like I need to save them for a special occasion, or I just like “having” them and I feel like if I use them then I don’t get to “have” them anymore. It makes no sense.
You know what else makes no sense? That a freaking lyric in a Beyoncé song could increase Red Lobster’s sales 33% in one weekend.
I’m not even kidding you. And worse? The song sucks. It sucks hard. You will never hear it on the radio because it is just God awful terrible. I will say, in its defense however, that the video for “Formation” is a true work of art and that the words to the song are sort of great in places. It’s just the music that is awful. But anyway…
In the song “Formation” Beyoncé kind of offhandedly remarks that “When he f&#@s me good I take his ass to Red Lobster.” She even repeats it. She says she does this because she slays. Then she says that if he hits it right he can ride in her helicopter. To Red Lobster? Come on. Red Lobsters do not have helipads on their roofs, which proves how clueless she is.
Here is the part where I need to grab Beyoncé by the arm and drag her off to the side and give her a good talking to.
First off, Beyoncé, you do not eat at Red Lobster. Ever. I cannot imagine any situation where you have or would ever set foot in a Red Lobster. So I am calling serious bullshit on you. This is Gwyneth Paltrow levels of bullshit right here. No one believes that you eat at Red Lobster just like no one believes that Gwyneth Paltrow eats pasta carbonara.
Anyone with any sense knows that both of y’all (Bey and G) live in pristine bubbles of wealth, beauty, celebrity and privilege. You have ALL the privilege, which means that you have an entire staff dedicated to assisting you with eating. You literally pay people to help you eat — nutritionists, dieticians, chefs, servers, personal assistants etc. I also know for a fact that Beyoncé is a vegan at least most of the time, because she was very public about it and also had some kind of a partnership with her “life coach” (for real) in some kind of vegan meal delivery diet service thing. Did you hear me? VEGAN. That means NO animal products. I’m pretty sure the only thing that’s vegan at Red Lobster is the ketchup, which is not organic nor stewed from heirloom tomatoes grown in Michelle Obama’s magical garden at the White House, which is the only sort of ketchup I can imagine Beyoncé actually eating.
I feel like Beyoncé threw in that Red Lobster reference because she’s trying to relate to the “common” woman, but Beyoncé is the farthest thing on earth from an everywoman, so I can’t even with this nonsense, even though thousands of other people apparently CAN even with it.
Second, Beyoncé, we need to talk about rewarding men for good sex. Umm no. Stop it. This makes you look needy. Men do not like needy women. That’s one of the most basic of basic rules of male/female romantic relationships. You cannot ever look needy and you can’t text back immediately. I don’t even want to think about Beyoncé texting a man back immediately. It ruins everything I want to believe about you. Women like me text back immediately, which is pathetic. Women like you wait three or four days and forget you even got a text meanwhile the guy is halfway suicidal with longing. NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND.
Rewarding a man for good sex by taking him out to dinner sounds like the worst idea of all time. I think Beyoncé is trying to subvert longstanding and outdated gender roles. I think she is trying to take upon herself the dominant role in the relationship and claim that this is a bold, badass feminist move and that she is trying to exert some kind of control here.
Yeah, no. This sounds good on paper, but in real life this shit is never ever ever going to fly and is a bad idea for about 25 good reasons. I can hear Jay-Z snickering about it right now, in fact. You want to know what would happen if you were not Beyoncé and tried to pull this shit in real life? I will tell you. You’d be out sixty bucks or more, your man would never call your sorry ass again and he’d be high-fiving all of his friends and telling them how he was such a baller that he could make a bitch buy him some crab legs. You don’t ever want to be that kind of a girl.
My take on this, based on a lot of actual life experience, is that some gender roles can successfully be reversed, but this is not one of them. When it comes to dating I prefer to remain in the Mad Men era. It’s kind of a matter of pride.
I would die before I would ever take a man out to dinner (at Red Lobster no less) for f&*ing me right. In my mind, I am such a prize that the reward for hitting it good is that he got to hit it with me at all. The act itself is its own reward. And trust me, I am no Beyoncé over here. I am about as basic of a white girl as you can ever imagine and I still value myself enough to know that I do not have to buy a man’s affections with Endless Shrimp.
But I was still curious about this whole Red Lobster phenomenon. Apparently A LOT of people were very enthusiastic about Beyoncé’s claims that Red Lobster is indeed an apt reward for mindblowing sex. It was such a big deal that humble Red Lobster was even trending on Twitter, God help us.
What was so good about Red Lobster, I wondered. I had to know.
Because, I gotta be honest with you, I have never once, ever, ever come even remotely close to crying out in the throes of passion:
“OH MY GOD THAT WAS AMAZING!! (pant, pant, sigh, moan) I NEED TO GET YOU SOME FRIED CLAM STRIPS IMMEDIATELY!”
So the other day, in order to satisfy my burning curiosity about this very important matter, I decided that I’d take my gift card and go my ass to Red Lobster and see what all the fuss was about. Perhaps I’d been missing out all along, I thought.
Thing is, I live in Florida on the beach and there is no dearth of really good places to get fresh, local seafood. There’s pretty much no need to ever go to Red Lobster if you live here, so naturally I haven’t gone, yet one still exists. I think it's here for old people and tourists who need something familiar and not local and scary. It has been here in the exact same place for my entire life. Such is the case with all Red Lobsters, am I right? Every Red Lobster you can think of offhand has been in the same location forever and that’s kind of saying something. Red Lobster has staying power. Red Lobster can last a long time, apparently, heh heh.
I didn’t want to go alone, and I felt like I should get the male perspective on this whole issue, so I dragged a hapless male friend along who I felt would appreciate the irony and also be willing to taste test some garbage food with me. I chose well. We met in the parking lot, which was inexplicably full at 1:30 on a Saturday afternoon, which you’d think would be completely dead, but no. The Red Lobster was jammin’. (Note: there was NOWHERE to land my helicopter.)
People really love Red Lobster. But why? And what is the connection between Red Lobster and sex?
I’ll just tell you right now that I still don’t get it. I don't think their old jingle "For the seafood LOVER in you" was a double entendre after all.
Red Lobster reminded me of visiting my grandmother’s house. It was spotlessly clean, smelled a little weird (not bad, just weird) and had wall to wall carpeting and a whole lot of paneling. Exactly like grandma’s house. I don’t know what kind of a freak you are, but my grandmother’s house is the last thing I would ever associate with arousal so I was immediately perplexed.
The Lobster is far more frumpy than sexy. Yet I forged onward.
I need to know something, though. Does anyone, HAS anyone ever in the history of Red Lobster, ever ordered one of the actual red lobsters from the tank up by the hostess stand? Or are those just token decorative lobsters that live out their lives as claw-bound props? I didn’t have the heart to order one. I have bad lobster karma already, but that is a story for another day.
I also have to say that I was really disappointed to find that there was not any current “Fest” going on. It seems like there is always a “Fest” at Red Lobster, yet the one time I go? There’s no damn fest. Such is my luck, and I remain fest-deprived. I didn’t see an “Endless” anything either. How can that even be?
So we forged onward. To a vinyl booth by a window where we were immediately given a basket of Cheddar Bay Biscuits, leading us to wonder where on a map we might locate the actual Cheddar Bay. My friend suggested that it was probably slightly north of Old Bay. We’ll go with that answer.
But these biscuits. Oh dear. The biscuits. Everything about these biscuits is so very right and so very wrong at once. Beyoncé would never eat them. They are nothing but gluten and casein bound in the holy union of butter, which is probably actually margarine and garlic powder. These biscuits are so legendary that I know someone who named her cat after them.
I liked the biscuits a lot, but I am not exactly hard to please when it comes to biscuits. Most biscuits are pretty wonderful. But were they wonderful enough to qualify as a reward for the best sex of all time? Well…no. Although if someone wanted to give me a Cheddar Bay biscuit for truly rocking his world, I’m not saying I would turn it down. And I’m also not saying that I wouldn’t be at least a little flattered. The biscuits? They slay.
My friend insisted that we needed to order an appetizer so we went with our server’s suggestion and got the sweet chili shrimp, which is straight up Red Lobster trying to be Nobu. I don’t want Red Lobster to be Nobu. Next they’ll be trying to make miso marinated black cod, for the love of everything good. The sweet chili shrimp, however, was not disgusting. I kinda liked it.
Nor was the coleslaw. My friend and I share a common fondness for coleslaw, of all things. Growing up my mom made coleslaw for every meal. She had several versions of it, and I liked them all. Coleslaw is just a part of my life (see my Chick-fil-a rant) and I have zero tolerance for crappy coleslaw. Red Lobster makes good coleslaw. I give credit where credit is due. It had no onions, nice crunch and celery seeds. Still, the coleslaw was not good enough to serve as the celebration for receiving multiple orgasms.
I wanted to order the most Red Lobster-ish of all things on the menu, so I went with the Admiral’s Feast, which is essentially a huge pile of fried. So I ate grease and breading for lunch dipped in bland cocktail sauce with a squeeze of lemon. I think I would eat gravel if it was breaded and fried and served with cocktail sauce.
My friend had to outdo me and order The Ultimate Feast, because I think he may be an overachiever. You ever see those videos of commercial fishing boats where they raise a huge net out of the ocean and dump it on the deck of the boat and it’s just scooped up every kind of sea life in its path? Like there are fish, but also dolphins, sea turtles, squids, shellfish, octopi, and everything else just flopping all over the place? That is essentially what the Ultimate Feast is. Just empty the whole net over a plate and soak it all in butter and serve. Red Lobster should probably be called Yellow Butter because that is a more fitting description of the place. I think I saw some sea snakes on his plate at one point and I’m pretty sure he was eating coelacanth scampi. There was probably even some coral on there. Seriously, the Ultimate Feast is like consuming an entire reef’s worth of oceanic biodiversity. With butter. And biscuits. And coleslaw. But it’s actually healthy because none of it was fried, unlike my food.
My meal was the epitome of fried. I think they breaded and fried the plate and utensils. I think I even had tempura iced tea (shit, I should’ve ordered lemonade). Paula Deen would’ve thought the level of fried had gone too far.
“If I don’t spend the whole night in the bathroom after eating this, I will know that God truly loves me,” I thought.
Somehow, I was just fine, and I will blame my dedication to portion control on my lack of gastrointestinal distress.
I don’t know about my friend, though. He ate all of his Ultimate feast, and about 25 biscuits, but we are not at the point in a friendship where I can comfortably ask if he later suffered from violent diarrhea (I am only like that with girls and millions of Internet strangers), and frankly, I don’t really want to know, so his digestive reaction to this meal will go undiscussed. I do hope he was okay.
When asked if his feast could be considered an apt reward for a stellar performance between the sheets, he did not have much of an answer, so I took his lack of response as a “No.” Maybe he was just embarrassed to admit the truth.
The verdict is that Red Lobster was massively underwhelming. It is by no means terrible. I was actually pleasantly surprised. Okay, I kind of even liked it, especially the coleslaw, but I am just too cool to want to admit that publically. If I die and go to heaven, I will get to eat those biscuits every day without ever gaining weight or getting stomach cramps and that will be paradise. Red Lobster overall, though, is kind of bland. I totally see why Beyoncé would need to carry hot sauce in her bag if hypothetically she were to eat there, which we have established she isn’t going to.
My visit to Red Lobster categorically failed to establish any logical link between its meals and sex, so the mystery remains along with the mystery of who Walt is (except that he is someone who loves fried shrimp). Was it good enough to take a man there after sex? Hell no. Not even if he did that thing with his hands and his mouth at the same time. Even if he was the greatest dirty talker in the history of dirty talking. Even if he had a you-know-what the size of a Chipotle burrito AND knew how to use it. So I still don’t get it. Am I simply just picky and snobbish? Could be.
Additionally, the food seemed to lack any possible aphrodisiac qualities, so that wasn’t it either. I didn’t hear any sort of outbursts in the dining room like Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally. I didn’t see “Becky With the Good Hair” blowing anyone in the parking lot, although in all fairness, the majority of vehicles had heavily tinted windows so who knows what was really going on, but somehow RL felt like the antithesis of passion and the embodiment of the ordinary. The really ordinary.
Will I go back? No. Not unless my grandmother wants me to take her, in which case then of course, but I think she likes Olive Garden better.
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