Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Luck of the Irish

Bennigans has been closed awhile now, bankrupt and out of business. And while I won't shed a tear for the terrible service and lackluster, lukewarm food that made the College Park franchise notorious in my eyes (though it was the site of the time I accidentally hijacked the first date between someone else and the girl who would eventually go on to be my girlfriend without knowing I was doing so), I had some pretty good times at the Rockville Pike location back in high school and beyond. Getting a drink with some coworkers after my break-up, or more often ending up there with Ari and Miles on one of our drives, Bennigans was never THE place to be (that honor went to the Silver Diner) but it was certainly a place to be, and so we were.

And so, maybe deserves a requiem.

Bennigans, I only knew you oh so well. You were part of the Pike Franchise Restaurant Trifecta, one third of a team comprised also of TGI Fridays and Ruby Tuesdays. You offered me a corporate slant on Irish food and laid claim to the one sandwich I refused to ever try, and now never will. But many people ate your ham and turkey and cheese sandwich, deep fried until oily gold, and then doused in powdered sugar with a raspberry dipping sauce. And when those people die before me, I think I'll know why. No, B, you never gave me the best food, or best decor, but you gave me a few good nights.

And you gave me this.

Just before going to Maryland, I had a cup of coffee at Montgomery College, just a semester to get used to being back in civilization after the eight month ordeal regular readers know as New Mexico. I took my first theater class in about a year there, and became friendly with a girl named Audrey. She was from Arizona.

Now I have a theory about people who grow up in Arizona.

They're all crazy.

And no one from Arizona has yet proven me wrong. It's all stories about lake side keggers, cults, and avoiding gunfire in abandoned shopping malls. And Audrey's stories were no different. She went to the kinds of parties I still wonder what it would be like to attend - full of public grinding and ending in shower orgies. She had been in a car accident in Arizona and it was a pretty bad one, and so her parents brought her here to recover. By the time I met her she had, and was missing home pretty bad, waiting it out 'til she could afford to return. And in the meantime she had found a few people at MC that helped bring that Arizona feel here.

Believe me, I wasn't in her league.

So I was at Bennigans one night with my good friend Ari, sitting and eating as we would often do, when Audrey walks in. I hadn't seen her in a little while so we started to catch up a bit - I didn't want it to go too long cause Ari sort of just had to sit there. But then she started telling me a story about the last party she went to, going into a lot of detail about her getting naked in the shower with a lot of people and forget friend protocol, I was fully invested in the moment we were sharing under the neon kitsch.

Then she pulled out her camera, said 'Oh wait, I have pictures!' and proceeded to show me a bunch of pictures of her naked. Totally naked. Like 'hey, look, those are nipples' naked. I looked up at her, back down at the pictures while she talked, narrating the night to me. Yup, that was her. And that was her naked. 
And she was pretty hot.

Now Ari was in the most unfortunate situation because he totally wanted to see the pictures too (imagine the feeling of being left out, but multiplied by hot naked girls). But he had never met this girl and there's no real couth way to be like "Heeeey... can I get a turn?" So instead, he just sat there uncomfortably across from us as this girl showed me a bunch of naked pictures of herself in the middle of the restaurant, until she gave me a hug and had to go.

Ari stared at me with daggers.

So I'll miss you, Bennigans. 
You didn't give me much. But I have a lot of very attractive female friends and to this day none of them have since surprised me in a restaurant with naked pictures, though I often wish they would.

So until they do, maybe at Jaspers or Chef's Secret or even Cheesecake Factory, I raise a glass to you, spill a drop of Guinness, and maybe I'll fry a turkey sandwich in your honor when I get tired of this cruel world. 


Daniel said...

someday, we'll have to sit down and you can tell me how these women keep finding you. you're like a magnet for these girls.

Jason Heat said...

I'm fairly certain "magnet for girls" is not an accurate description of my life or me.

Ozkirbas said...

Oh, the Monte Cristo. I still remember that time two years ago. The first, and only, time we met.

A group of friends. Drinks. Laughter. I was reading the menu when I looked up and saw you. And you looked... dangerous. I alerted my companions immediately and gave them your description - only to be returned with wild-eyed glances. "No, John. You musn't!" they said, "You'll have a heart-attack!" But, I knew that I had to have you. When the waitress came over, I asked if we may enjoy your company. But, you wouldn't come to me for some time. I waited and waited and just before I had given up all hope, there you were. We embraced and it seemed to last an eternity. We left the Bennigans, hands held firm, giggling like schoolchildren. I brought you home and... I began to feel ill. I left you in the kitchen. Cold. Alone. Abandoned. You grew stale. And you disappeared from my life.

I wouldn't see you again until the next time I visited a Bennigans. And there you were. I saw you across the room - in the arms of a stranger. I had no right to be hurt, but, alas, I am only a man. And my heart ached. I made a solemn vow that day to never cross your path again. And now, I know I never will. My heart aches still, Monte Cristo. And you'll be the death of me.

ali d said...

No, I think Daniel has a point. They might not seek you out for the reasons you'd prefer, but these girls definitely find you, Jason.

Also, you could get the Monte Cristo made as a panini, which meant that it was grilled instead of fried, and thus about 1000x more healthy, but still equally delicious.

Oh man, and remember that one bitter waitress who gave us half of our meal free because she knew the service was horrendous and there was nothing she could do about it? Bennigan's, you went way before your time....

B.Graham said...

I learned recently the employees didn't even know it was going under. They just showed up one day and it was gone, along with their jobs.

Anonymous said...

I find that I have a similar relationship with Bennigan's, but perhaps only because, as a MC Summer Dinner Theatre alum, I attended the post-rehearsal Benny's binges with Audrey and other friends... :-)


David Pratt said...

I spent much of my formative years in Arizona.

AZ Winer said...

Pratt, are you implying frequent involvement in shower orgies?

David Pratt said...

Nevie Brooks. said...

my parents had their first date at a bennigan's. my dad ordered the monte cristo. ergo, you could say bennigan's is the reason for my existence.

Jason Heat said...

I take back every nice thing about Bennigans I said

Nevie Brooks. said...

i hate you too