Day 28: The Color Out of Olive Garden

I’ve been reading a lot of H.P. Lovecraft and if I were to describe his works in two words it would be: public domain. And I mean that in the best way possible. Because it’s really annoying that so much stuff is under copyright for about eighty years after you lose all interest in reading it. Looking at you Disney and Sonny Bono you moron.

Lovecraft is great at building eerie worlds that you just can’t help but fall into. Kind of like how Olive Garden is with pasta.

Imagine some misty New England morning. You’re walking along some overgrown path through an old wood. The kind of place where half the trees have died of old age and nobody has cut them down out of either respect or fear.

Close enough.

One of Lovecraft’s favorite themes is that there are creatures inhabiting this world that we don’t generally know about or encounter. There are alien beings persisting in ancient, forgotten places in forbidden hills or under the deep seas. But if you are the kind of curious person that is likely to keep after a mystery until it kills you, you might just run into one of these aliens. Say the right (or wrong) words and you just conjured up Cthulhu and congratulations you’re dead.

All this has been in my head lately so of course when I’m eating in the most alien place I know–The Olive Garden–naturally I find parallels.

We sat in a new booth this time (is anything here really new anymore, in any sense?) and I photographed the photographic image duct-taped to the wall paint. I hesitate to call it art.

In this image, we see a market in a city. Probably supposed to be a bunch of Italians doing Italian shopping for Italian things. Everybody is enraptured by the deal on these gross-looking veggies. Except that one guy in the bottom left.

Everybody is focused on what they want or need. The woman standing in the right foreground is sort of looking at the camera, but we’ll chalk that up to bad photography.

But that guy in the bottom left is staring, frozen, freaked out of his mind, at something in the bottom right of the shot. There’s nothing visible in the photograph except the road next to the vegetables. I doubt there was a car or bicycle accident occurring at the moment this photograph was taken because the photographer would likely have been bowled over by it, or at least the others would be running or shielding their children from the crash.

No, I believe the man is looking at the flash of my camera. This is his “color out of space,” his Lovecraftian moment. For he lives in a world of black and white and nobody else seems to notice except him that the flash of my own camera left a golden glare in the corner of the image.

But he saw it. He sees color he’s never seen before. He sees a flash from beyond he never imagined.

He wants to beg his companions, demand that they say they saw what he saw. They didn’t see it, though, you can tell that their faces register no such alien encounter.

At once this man realizes he has seen something more than he should have ever seen, and he sees his loneliness in that eternal moment. He can never share that knowledge–no one would ever understand.

To chase spirits and aliens, to see beyond what the eye may ken, is to make a hermit of oneself. To walk through a door is to realize you may never go back.

That’s what they call:

The Call of Unlimited Breadsticks

Item 1: linguini, mushroom Alfredo, battered shrimp

Breadsticks: 3

Weight: 166

Sight: beyond