The Second Annual Never Ending Past Bowl Challenge

A month ago, I said I would recap the Olive Garden Never Ending Pasta Bowl contest, and now that I'm actually blogging again, it's time to give the blow-by-blow.

No one lost their pants in the restaurant this time (that memory still haunts me), but a lot of competitors upped their game, with a new record being set.

Altogether, we had 8 eaters: Jessica (the defending champ), Preston, Allison, Matt, Melinda, Ted, Joyce, and me. A lot of shit talking went down as we waited an hour for a table at the Olive Garden. The entire time, we had our eye on an empty table large enough to accommodate our party. "Why can't we just sit there?" we'd say periodically. And then, after an hour, they sat us there. Not sure why Olive Garden dicked us over, but the wait just helped our rumbling stomachs (we had been starving ourselves leading up to the contest) get hungrier.

Our waiter was a strange guy with a British accent. Ted tried to mock what he thought was a fake accent, but it turned out it was real, leading to some weird tension. That sucked because an eager server is critical to the process of getting lots of pasta to us quickly. But we finally got our first dishes and they were all scarfed down in probably less than two minutes.

We discussed - at length - the rules regarding the bathroom. You could poop because the poop is going to be in there from earlier (not the pasta), but vomiting was a no-no. To ensure that no one cheated at this, we initially mandated a buddy system on trips to the bathroom, but then just decided to use the honor system instead. That's when Jessica excused herself to the restroom and the fishiness began.

We had been sitting around waiting for our waiter to come back to put in our next order for what seemed like forever. I think they had us pegged as overeaters, so they were intentionally stalling with us. Finally, the waiter came back with a single bowl of pasta for Jessica. We were all outraged and confused. It turned out, Jessica used her trip to the restroom to pull the waiter a side and put in an advanced order on her next bowl. As a result, she was able to finish her second bowl before the rest of us even ordered our second one, putting her at a massive advantage.

Some accused Jessica of cheating. It might be a little unethical - it's certainly not a move I would have pulled - but it wasn't against any rules. Ultimately, I felt played, but I respected her unconventional move as it showed how much she wanted the victory. I had been determined to not let her lap me a pasta bowl so she could play defensively as she had the year before, but she figured out a way to do it anyway, and good on her.

Ted, the guy who talked the most smack coming into the competition, didn't even order a third bowl, instead asking for a Limoncello dessert. (Perhaps he didn't want to overdo it after being cut off as a lush the previous year.) It was an early, unexpected forfeit that changed the game. Allison followed suit, not getting more than a few bites into her third bowl before throwing in the towel. She had boasted how confident she was while we waited for our table, but now the two biggest talkers were out. 

Joyce quit at three, as did Melinda, who can be proud since she hadn't even planned to compete. I felt super done after three bowls, but I wanted to beat my performance last year, so I ordered a fourth, along with Preston and Matt, while Jessica ordered a fifth. It was about this point that the waiter made a comment about how our contest was like "The Island of Doctor Moreau." None of us could figure out how that reference corresponded with the situation at hand, but whatever, go ahead and insult us, weird waiter dude, just be sure to bring us more breadsticks.

When she got her fifth bowl, however, Jessica didn't touch it, insisting she was letting the rest of us catch up. As it turned out, she was just concealing how sick she was, hoping to recover in time. Preston and I both finished bowl four and tapped out. We kept waiting for Jessica to eat her fifth bowl to clinch the title, but she couldn't bring herself to put anymore pasta in her mouth. And that's when Matt saw an opening and decided to order a fifth bowl.

I thought Matt going for it would be enough to push Jessica to dig into her bowl, but she didn't touch it as Matt - seemingly effortlessly - finished his bowl to claim a decisive win. A nice waitress came and sat down to watch the conclusion. 

So we have a new pasta victor! It was nice to see Hungry, Boastful Jessica knocked down a peg. And sure, I only tied for second, but by eating a whole extra bowl this year, I fulfilled a goal! It usually feels really good to fulfill a goal, but in this particular case, it just made me feel nauseated. 

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