I know there’s a lot going on in the sports world right now that I should be writing about.
The NBA playoffs. The NFL draft. (Summary: Quenton Nelson is the first offensive lineman people care about since Michael Oher in The Blind Side. Also, despite having an abnormally high number of top tier draft picks, the Cleveland Browns will retain their title as the NFL’s leftovers.)
But you’ll have to forgive me; I just can’t focus. I’ve been through a bad break-up this past week, and I’m still a bit raw emotionally.
A Romance Comes to an End
Regular readers of this column know that I’ve long held a place in my heart for Buffalo Wild Wings. But under the sunny facade, our relationship has been on the rocks.
Buffalo Wild Wings’ prices were never a bargain to begin with, and over time they’ve climbed to where it’s not much more expensive to get steak or sushi. Or a Ford Taurus.
But the final nail was driven in the coffin this last week, when I realized Buffalo Wild Wings has ruined the last thing that kept the relationship alive: Boneless Thursdays.
I went there for lunch after seeing they still had the promotion on their website. Maybe I’m just completely out of touch with modern times, but I vaguely remember being able to get two boneless wings for under a dollar on Buffalo Wild Wings’ boneless night.
No more. In my neck of the woods, the boneless wings are now 65 cents each. That doesn’t sound too unreasonable, I know. But then the restaurant slaps you, the supposedly beloved customer, in the face with one of the lamest, over-rated corporate cost-cutting maneuvers in the industry: They charge you for ranch. Ranch! (Also for blue cheese if you’re one of those weird people that likes to dip deep-fried chicken in spoiled milk.)
That’s like Starbucks handing you a cup of ground coffee and saying, “The hot water is extra.”
It’s not just insulting, it’s oppressive.
No Longer an Escape
BWW used to feel a bit like the sports version “Margaritaville” (minus the cult-like effect of middle-aged people losing any sense of belonging to civilization). A place for the working man to escape and unwind. Games blared on screens all around you, while your friends’ faces turned purple and they started sweating bullets after being a manly man and ordering a dozen Blazin’ wings. It was a good time.
Now, going to Buffalo Wild Wings makes you feel like Oliver Twist. You’re not a sadistic freak that likes to eat chicken wings with no dip. You need ranch.
So you look at your waiter when your first cup of over-priced ranch is empty, like the famous orphan hoping for another bowl of gruel: “Please sir, may I have some more?”
You hope your waiter will offer to bring you another cup on the house. But if he did, he’d be squashed like a bug under Buffalo Wild Wings’ cold, unfeeling, corporate iron fist. Your silent plea goes unrewarded, so you reluctantly order more ranch, which at this point feels as thrilling and spontaneous as ordering office supplies, and begin to wonder if the heartless fat cats will install toll booths by the bathroom to squeeze a few more pennies out of you.
Where you once felt like a prince surrounded by a feast and entertainment better than any court of jesters, you now feel like a pawn in a kingdom of hopelessness.
Sauces in the Sun
Disillusioned, broken-hearted, you come to the realization that this relationship will never be the same. The magic is gone. To paraphrase Terry Jacks’ “Seasons in the Sun”:
We had joy, we had fun,
We had sauces in the sun
But the beer and the song,
Like my money has all gone.
At least I tell myself that it’s over. The reality is, I know at some point in the future, I’ll give into my weaknesses, break down and initiate a cheap-feeling (but in reality, expensive) rendezvous.
And the on-again, off-again cycle will continue. Because while Tums can heal heartburn, only chicken wings can heal heart break.