The Unwritten Rules Of Going Out To Eat With A Food-Obsessed Family

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If dinner’s scheduled for 7 pm on a Friday, dinner conversation starts promptly at 4 pm the previous Monday.

You’re not allowed to order what somebody else orders, so you better have multiple “safety schools” in mind in case somebody beats you to the punch on your first choice.

Sharing of dishes is only allowed if the dishes are equally delicious. If you ordered poorly, that’s on you. Deal with it.

All dinner-related decisions will be judged by all parties present at the dinner as well as by other interested parties who will hear about the dinner after the fact. The choice of restaurant, the service, the food ordered, the number and type of drinks consumed, the menu prices, and the speed with which food is consumed are all fair game.

Recommendations from waiters will be analyzed not only for their suggestions, but for the tone of their voice and delivery of said suggestions. If they recommend the veal, there will be discussion about their credibility as a veal recommender based on an imagined backstory that will be created based on assumptions of your fellow diners.

There are appetizer people, entree people, and dessert people. Stay in your lane and play to your strengths.

How much you eat will be monitored and if you don’t eat enough, it will be held against you.

If you choose the restaurant, your reputation will be on the line. It’s like vouching for somebody in the mob. But no guts, no glory.

Each dish ordered by somebody at the dinner will be compared to previous incarnations of that dish that have been had at other restaurants over the past two decades and will be ranked accordingly. You’ll be expected to remember those dishes and weigh in on the comparison.

The above process will then be repeated with dishes nobody at the table has actually tasted, but has seen prepared on various Food Network shows. Bobby Flay’s version of the dish will be declared the winner.

Photos will be taken. They will be posted on social media. And they better be “Liked” by family members not in attendance.

One absentee family member will fail to Like the photos. They will be shunned.

The meal will be discussed and analyzed the following day. That conversation will last longer than Sportscenter’s recap of the Super Bowl.

A good time will be had by all.


Spring Broke

You ever think about how Spring Break came to be?

Me neither.

Turns out, it’s an interesting story that includes as much business, marketing, and politics as it does partying.

I watched a new Showtime documentary this weekend called Spring Broke that chronicles the history of Spring Break and how it’s evolved over the years and I highly recommend you check it out.

It’s packed with interesting stuff such as the fact that cigarette companies fueled the growth of the Daytona Beach Spring Break scene because it was a cheap (and semi-legal) way for them to market to college kids. And once it was made illegal for them to do so, alcohol brands stepped in and picked up the torch.

It was also interesting to see the impact MTV’s Spring Break coverage had and tons of behind-the-scenes stuff like how MTV always made it seem a lot more wild and warm than it actually was.

While I never went to Daytona Beach for Spring Break, watching the documentary made me think back to my own Spring Break adventures.

Most of my memories of them are appropriately foggy, but here’s a few things I remembered.

I remember my first real Spring Break experience happening when I was a senior in high school.

A bunch of my friends piled into a couple cars and drove down to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. None of us had much money, but one of my friends who had a particularly low bankroll decided to spend almost all of it on fireworks at a weird/infamous truck stop called South of the Border on our drive down.

By day two of our trip, he was out of money, but fully stocked with an artillery of fireworks we had no real use for.

I also remember that on one of our first days there, we met a group of girls from Indiana of all places who we hung out with for the duration of the trip. We went on to meet back up with them multiple times in multiple other locations over the next few years.

It didn’t seem particularly odd at the time, but considering this all happened in a pre-Internet, pre-cell phone era, it actually seems like an amazing accomplishment in retrospect.

I have no idea how those friendships were maintained or how those reunion trips were coordinated, but I’m going to guess beepers were involved since that was pretty much the extent of our technology back then.

In college, I found myself in Miami for Spring Break, where I turned 21 and rented a car that I put on my first credit card and am probably still paying off.

Then, my senior year of college I spent my final Spring Break flying to Los Angeles with my Mom. It was the first time I saw the city that would become my home for the next (almost) 20 years and it was the week I decided to make the move.

I even interviewed with a company that week that wound up hiring me a few months later and was my first post-college job.

Based on that, I might have to say the highlight of my Spring Break experiences was a trip with my Mom. It certainly wasn’t my most fun Spring Break experience, but it definitely had the biggest long-term impact.

This is all a long-winded way of saying you should check out Spring Broke – here’s the trailer:


A Not-So-Sweet 16

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There was no surprise ending.

With a Sweet 16 loss tonight, the 2016 Maryland Terrapins basketball team gave us the season ending we could see coming for months.

Much like their season as a whole, they started the game well, played a solid first half, faced adversity against a good opponent, and went out with a whimper.

We didn’t even get a desperation run to get back in the game like Gary Williams-coached teams always gave us back in the day.

But this was not a Gary Williams-coached team.

Still, Mark Turgeon managed to get Maryland back into the Sweet 16 for the first time in more than a decade (way too long).

It’s easy to look at that as clear progress for the program, but I don’t think any Maryland fan sees it that way.

If you followed this team, you know what could have been.

You know the talent this roster had and you know this season could have been special.

But it never was.

Instead, that potential turned out to be nothing but potential.

In the end, this team didn’t fail to live up to what could have been, it gave us exactly what it had promised us all season long.

Unfortunately, there’s nothing sweet about that.