"The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry."
—Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms
Grand Forks Herald reviewer Marilyn Hagerty wrote a review of this Olive Garden. Her review was spare and prosaic. Rejecting raspberry lemonade, she drank water and ate chicken alfredo. The chicken alfredo was “warm and comforting,” she said. She meant no harm. She saw the Olive Garden as a place of interest to the people of Grand Forks. Olive Garden has breadsticks, she says, and she calls them warm and long.
The summers in Bastille are warm and long, as are they in Barcelona. In Barcelona, bulls run the streets. The streets run red with blood when the bulls run. In Barcelona I met a woman, once. Her name was Marilyn Hagerty. She spoke of a cafe downtown, El Sol, she said. She called the portions “generous.”
We fell in love. I think she’s dead, now, dead in the war.
The Grand Forks’ Marilyn Hagerty is a different Marilyn Hagerty, because mine is dead, cold and barren in the dirt. This one has gray hair and tasteful glasses. Her blouse has red and yellow triangles. She looks grandmotherly and stern.
In this Olive Garden, she saw vases and planters displayed prominently on the ledges. I imagine they were like dogs, perched there, haunches in. I used to pat the dogs, and I could feel the smoothness of their fur under my glove.
The homemade soup sounds like it must be warm in the cold of North Dakota. Marilyn points toward the low-fat and gluten-free entrees at the Olive Garden. She has never made love in a barrel of gluten, I do not think.
I will go to this Olive Garden in Grand Forks. I will be one of those visitors from out of town. To go to Grand Forks and not go to the Olive Garden is to die.
With Red Lobsters dotting the land like artillery, it is all we have.