An Open Letter to the New, Traitorous Calorie Counts on this Chili’s Menu

Dear Chili’s,

First, I want to thank you for your hard work day in and delicious day out. In a time that feels like responsibility is the spicy-southwest-cheddar-melty-double-stuffed hot potato, and we’re all just passing it off between our ever greasier fingers, someone has to be the tough guy, and well, that someone is you.

It’s just…look. Sometimes I have a bad day. Sometimes my coworker Frank is slurping his soup loudly, and also has a wet cough, and I am counting the minutes until it’s time for an El Presidente margarita, and endless chips and salsa, with queso and thick cut bacon, on a plate for now, I’ll add the burger later, thanks.

However, once Samantha, my favorite host shows me to table 22, my favorite booth, and I open those glorious menu pages, always smooth, never sticky, despite the plethora of sauces served at your fine establishment, all my fantasies subside when I see it. Staring me in the face, 354 calories. In italics. On the very first drink. Before I even need my teeth to chew, 354 pieces of fun have been taken away from me.

I’m not naive, dear Chili’s and your new visible calorie count, (ahem, Brutus). I understand that with great taste comes great caloric responsibility. All I’m saying is, if you’re going to throw something right in my face, I’d rather it be a cheesy quesadilla explosion salad, and not the literal 1,430 calories that will make me order a plain burger with no bun, hold the tomato because why even bother with joy at this point instead.

If I wanted sad, I’d have stayed home and eaten a can of soup at the kitchen counter and opened my mail instead. I saw swoopy handwriting on three envelopes that I tossed aside, which means two save-the-date magnets and a baby shower invitation await me.  OH COOL, OTHER PEOPLE’S HAPPINESS.

But I didn’t opt for counter soup and engagement photos of a couple’s boots (why do people DO that?!). I came to you, Chili’s. I came to you because you fill my heart with joy. Hot, hot joy, the likes of which are very similar to your Molten Chocolate Lava Cake. What’s that? Eleven hundred fifty calories in one of those bad boys? Go to Hell. Go right to Hell.

And do you know what else? No one likes what you’re doing. Sorry to be harsh, but you need to hear this, BIG STEAMED BROCCOLI — yeah that’s right, I know who you’re working for, and I know he’s listening.

Oh sorry, am I being a little over the top here? WELL EXCUSE ME, I thought Chili’s was a place I could go to be my true real self at my truest volume. I can’t go to my sister’s house anymore because I’m apparently “too loud” and the kids are “sleeping”.

Are you my sister, Chili’s? Because your menu seems to be trying to boss me around like it’s 1994 and I can’t come in your club house unless all of your chores are done and I gave you my lucky rabbit’s foot. Guess what, YOU CAN’T HAVE THE FOOT!

Look, no one goes to Chili’s to make good choices. We come here to forget. At Olive Garden we’re family, but here? Here we’re strangers, dipping our chicken crispers in the quiet solitude of Smash Mouth songs.

Good choices are for people who meal prep, and get receipts from the ATM. I never asked you for a receipt, Chili’s, but I am asking for another El Presidente margarita.