Because business takes up so much more of my time than writing these days and I miss you people, I’ve committed to finding a way to write and publish at least one thing every day (except Saturday!) indefinitely. This sometimes means digging through old drafts that never saw the light of day or trying out ideas that might not always land. Here’s one that’s been waiting in drafts with a [DECIDING IF THIS IS FUNNY OR NOT] in the status bar for two years! I guess you’ll have to let me know how you feel about it or if I should get back to accounting.
In the early 2000s, my younger brother Lewis was a prolific writer for his high school’s newspaper, churning out fantastic food reviews including a notable piece evaluating the snack options of our mother’s kitchen. His work was so revered and the summer was so slow that he was eventually granted a two-page spread, “The Lewis Pages,” to fill with whatever he wanted, such as a story headlined “Mother Reminds Son Of His Lack Of Employment” and another entitled “People I Kept In Touch With Over The Summer At All Time Low.”
Occasionally Lewis turned to me, his sister, for content. This is long before I too became a content producer. Recently while visiting my Mom in Michigan, she dug up some of the old papers and I was thrilled to rifle through them and re-read Lewis’s restaurant reviews while he moaned in agony and pleaded with me not to read them. I’m not sure what he’s ashamed of, but anyhow, I have transcribed and am now printing for your delight and entertainment a very Vintage Interview with me, Marie Bernard (“Riese” is my nickname), from August of 2001. He asked me about my summer and stuff but mostly it was about The Olive Garden.
Interview With My Sister, by Lewis Bernard
August 28, 2001
Many of you may remember that last time I had my own page, I interviewed my sister. I got a lot of good feedback about it so I figured I should try to interview her again. This particular interview was conducted via cell-phone while Marie was spending the summer in New York City.
Lewis: So how’s NYC?
Marie: It’s really hot, this is New York right, and I’m walking down the street and it’s 150 degrees, so there’s a police car, probably trying to arrest someone, right, but no one is stopping, no one is pulling over, everyone is just honking at him! Which is probably why everyone is dying. So that’s the news from 14th and Broadway. Mention that the taxi drivers were actually honking at the police car. I was in a taxi cab yesterday and there were some people in an SUV and they were playing their music so loudly that our taxi was vibrating and you know how all taxi drivers are on the verge of road rage?
M: Well he was opening his door and yelling and I thought I was gonna die. I’m at the frozen yogurt place so you’re gonna have to hold on.
L: But New York is good?
M: Do you know where I work?
L: At the Olive Garden.
M: Sunday was my last night at The Olive Garden in Times Square and I got everyone to go out and I got drunk, and now I am poor. But not because I spent all my money on alcohol, but because I quit my job because I have to go back to Michigan and get a new job there.
L: Any interesting things happen at The Olive Garden?
M: I had this woman who came in alone and had like 16 bags and lots of layers and a big head-scarf thing, so she sat down and I asked her if she wanted any wine, and she said no because she’d “just finished a couple of martinis,” and she repeated her order like five times to me, and kept on asking the table next to her for a glass of wine. So after she ate and I brought the bill, she grabbed her bags and started running towards the door out of the restaurant, and the bartender was like, Marie, your woman is on the run, and so I chased after her, and then she saw me just as she was halfway out the door and doubled back and leapt on the escalator to go upstairs to the ladies room. So I was like, okay, and I waited. The check was still on the table and she came back and gave me cash and said that she never before had someone “jump down her throat” while going to the bathroom. She also told me that she had a 15-year-old daughter. I dropped a tray, did I tell you that before?
M: Well, you can write that I dropped a lasagna, a chicken parmesan and a T-Bone all on one person and she started crying. It wasn’t even her food, it was the other table’s food. The tray slipped when I was reaching for the tray strand. It was terrible.
L: Did you get fired or did you quit?
M: No, no, no, they love me there. Three people got fired last week but I quit. Because when you’re there you’re family.
L: Yeah that’s what I thought before I got fired from Barry’s.
M: I guess that’s what we all think. But they don’t fire girls, only guys, one guy got fired for swearing, another called his table “ghetto,” and the third got fired for asking his table why they didn’t tip him.
L: They fired him for that?
M: You are not allowed to do that, which is too bad ’cause a lot of bad tippers eat there. Those are also the people who ask for to-go boxes and stuff a mutilated piece of lasagna, a half-eaten, cold, soggy breadstick, and the few shreds of salad into it.
L: I went to The Olive Garden.
M: Is that what you did there?
L: Well, I’m gonna tell you what happened. First I ordered the Chicken Con Broccoli.
M: Yeah, that’s good.
L: It’s exactly like the Parmesan Crusted Chicken so that’s kinda a rip.
M: Except that the Chicken Con Broccoli isn’t crusted, I don’t know if “crusted” is a word but neither is Hospitaliano, and that’s what it says on our name tags, people think it’s our name.
L: I finished most of my meal, but I got a to-go box and the waitress put my half-eaten, cold, soggy breadstick in the box.
M: She probably thought that’s what you wanted.
L: Well I didn’t want it. What am I supposed to do with a half-eaten breadstick?
M: They probably don’t reheat well. Tell people that I don’t just work at that job, I’m also in summer school. There is more to me than all-you-can-eat salad.
M: One time this one cook got really mad at this other cook and threw pasta in her face, I think that’s a good idea.
L: The guy at the Meijer station wouldn’t sell me a lighter and I got really mad.
M: Did you throw pasta on his face?
L: No, I told him to fuck off.
M: You could get fired for that.
L: But I don’t have a job.
M: You could get alcohol if you lived in New York because it’s anarchy.
L: How would you compare the nightlife?
M: New York is approximately 150 times better. In Ann Arbor there’s nowhere to go except somebody’s house and they make drinks a lot better at a bar. Like at frat parties normally all they have is beer called Shwanks or something and it tastes really bad.
L: Do you realize that I’ve only asked you like two interview questions and I’ve filled up around two pages? Oh, I have a job interview tomorrow.
M: Where at?
L: Michigan Book and Supply. I’ll probably be working book rush.
M: Maybe I’ll buy my books from you but it might be embarrassing.
L: No it won’t.
M: Promise you won’t embarrass me in front of my cool college friends. All my friends are gonna come to me and say, “Oh my G-d I bought my books from your little brother” and they’re gonna say it like I don’t know that you work there, kinda like when people say you got a hair cut, like um, yeah, I kinda remember that happening. I hope I buy my books from you!
L: I made bread today, from scratch too, without assistance from the bread maker.
M: I’m glad to hear that you learned something new, I know how to put breadsticks into a basket so between the two of us we could feed a small hungry army.
L: So I’m gonna pick you up at the airport at 8AM.
M: Yeah, otherwise known as the buttcrack of dawn. I’ll be in a bad mood.
I’m really glad this finally made it out into the open. Set it free! This could be on a list of a list of an easter egg on Autostraddle of things I read that Riese wrote but I’m never sure how to tell you how much I like them.
Agreed. More random old projects please and thank you!
well thank you!
Well I laughed, so.
thank you for the support
i thought this said ASSLIFE at first. which is how i live, so.
Wait. Your name is Marie???!!!?! I’m so late to the game on this, but:
(Somebody help me when that inevitably doesn’t work, kthx)
Also had my high school newspaper included the word ‘fuck’ and interviews with you, I probably would’ve actually read it. Bravo.
Sweet lesbian jesus it worked.
Yes that’s my real name! My Mom always called me “ree” which was short for “marie” and it eventually evolved into Riese.
He went to an “alternative” high school where kids smoked on the lawn during lunch and did a lot of independent studies. So.
I mean, I should’ve known. I once found your old blog….BUT I honestly assumed the name was an alias. I also now realize this tidbit is FRONT AND CENTER in your member profile.
Don’t worry, I feel good about being behind on the times.
Wait so how do you pronounce it? Is it “Reese” like the candy or “REE-zuh”?
it’s reese like the candy!
Just when I thought there were no more surprises I find out YOUR NAME IS RHYS! Spelling aside obviously, but I was going for Reeza for years. Oops.
we’re all just basking in the mystery that is Riese.
Hey, my brother goes to the same alternative high school in Ann Arbor…crazy kids! So cool that you grew up in Ann Arbor! I knew that’s why I thought you were so cool.
“when you’re here you’re family”
yes younger riese, follow your arrow, this is very good, actual laughter.
hard yes in favor of more draft backlogs
i was really sad to find out that the olive garden has since abandoned “when you’re here you’re family” for something not nearly as heart-warming
i believe their current slogan is “twice as much shitty food for the same price!”
This is actually really great.
Also: “There is more to me than all-you-can-eat salad.”
…she said, now in the context of this queer lady website situation.
Haha this is great! I really love hearing all your Olive Garden stories. I feel like I missed out on something by never working in the restaurant industry, but also I’m pretty glad not to have to deal with half-eaten, soggy breadsticks.
I also love hearing younger brother stories. Mine texted me the other night to ask if he could use an old textbook that was laying around in my room at my parents’ house to make a cupholder. I asked him how he was gonna make a cupholder out of a book. A full 24 hours later, he replied: “with an xacto knife”.
oh wow do you think he’s scooping out the innards of the text book with his exacto knife?? is he going to send you a picture?
I hope he sends me a picture but that might be too much to ask for seeing as he only texts me about twice a year!
Ya know now if you get the picture of the ripped-out-innards-of-a-textbook-turned-cup-holder, you must share with the class.
I may steal this idea from your brother!
My favorite part is that he bothered to reply after a whole day?
Well this is perfect
My first comment, I’m a comment virgin!!! Meijer. Telling someone there to fuck off. AWESOME! As a Michigander, that cracked me up!
I just wanna write about Meijer all the time
I lost it at Schwanks. Moar plz
I work at a pasta plant and I have never thrown pasta in someone’s face, but sometimes I’ve felt like it. My younger brother calls me “master of noodles”. Younger brothers are special humans. Please write more like this.
You don’t say. My brother claims this is a selfie– he aimed the phone (mine) directly at his face:
Hahaha YES. My brother is actually a skilled photographer. But he’s making a goofy face in 90% of the photos I have of him.
Pretty sure my brother is incapable of acting like an adult human in a picture.
I would count this as a win. I like this publish at least one thing a day idea. I’ve missed reading your stuff. I remember when half of AS content *was* your stuff. :)
kinda hoping it would never end, it was fun to read
i liked this
This is my new favorite thing.
Also I would totally eat the half-eaten, cold breadstick.
this is amazing!
Oh boy. This is good news.
My hometown of Ass-stank got an Olive Garden. This was front page news from construction to opening day. At least.
The new Dunkin’ Donuts has bumped it for now, I hear tell.
My very first journalistic endeavor was a “newspaper” my older friend in my 5th/6th grade split class started called the Porta-Party. It was 1991 but we went classy with copies and staples instead of the ditto machine.
who leaves an olive garden breadstick half-eaten? they’re the only edible thing on the menu.
Absolute gold (like you).
So this is really cute and sweet and I love sibling banter. Please post more stuff you aren’t sure of posting as I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
My brother and I used to cut up the tv guide and repaste the best parts onto one page. I was probably five and there was always a picture of a man in a white suit playing lawn bowls and I used to colour his suit in yellow and pretend he was Dick Tracey. Dick Tracey lawn bowl man was on every re-imagined tv guide I made.
We also used to write stories about precious gems getting stolen. Idk why we thought that was a good plot.
We used to record a mock radio show on tape and he would be the DJ and I would be the guest. Once I was Gwen Stefani and he asked what my album was called and I was like ‘No Doubt’ and he said no and I was like ‘Spiderwebs’ and he said no and I said ‘Gwen Stefani’ and he said no and I cried on pretend radio as I didn’t understand that the answer was Magic Kingdom. This was followed by Ironic by Alannis remixed with my brother and I making fart noises over the whole song.
I want this transcribed and posted somewhere. Pls
Stamp of approval.
I think this could be promoted out of Vapid Fluff into Social History. Remember that romanticising the 90s/early 2000s is the only thing old people have to make us feel interesting/important.
Do you reckon your brother would phone interview you again about working for Autostraddle? I would be interested to know what the AS equivalent of a half-chewed breadstick is.
“I would be interested to know what the AS equivalent of a half-chewed breadstick is.”
Oh wow, I could think about this for the rest of my life
This is perfection. All of this. I love it.
‘mutilated piece of lasagna’ ew haha.
this is my fave. love rando shit like this vapid fluff.
more please. and plz can we have the ‘notable piece evaluating the snack options of our mother’s kitchen’? that sounds too great.
This is definitely funny.
Yeah this is hilarious, 10/10 would read again.
This is exactly how any attempt at an interview between my brother and myself would go. Maybe 1 or 2 questions on topic and then a free-for-all. I love it. More, please!
Riese I have missed you! I’m a huge fan of the posting every day idea.
Also please can Laneia adopt a similar policy? Please.
Wait, this was amazing.
Although it’s making me a bit anxious about possibly moving to Ann Arbor for law schools. Hopefully they have bars now…