BOSTON - It’s been a long-standing rumor that hell has its own in-house DJ. What exactly that playlist consists of is probably best open to interpretation. And that’s the nature of eternal damnation. It’s speculative. You might not know what you got until it’s gone, but you’ve only got 70 or so years to second guess.
I’m not certain if hell actually exists. Empirical proof of ontology is retroactive; and as far as I know, I’m not dead yet. But I know Syracuse exists. I’ve been there. Despite the oversight it receives from much of the general population, it’s actually quite pleasant. I’m not certain if there is a regional dish native to Syracuse. In fact, I’m not even certain just how I wound up in Syracuse at all. But I’ve been there. Specifically, at a Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville. And that was as close enough to hell as I’d like to be.
It didn’t strike me as peculiar that my dinner host was a pharmaceutical representative who seemed a little too exuberant about his latest product offerings. And it didn’t strike me as odd that his industry-laden jargon was replete with empty buzzwords and an all too casual mien. Once I dined at Margaritaville, I understood why. Remember Chi Chis? It quite possibly exemplified the worst in fast-casual eating back in the day. It’s still around—it's just in Belgium. But compared to Margaritaville, it was a veritable Shangri La. And it’s not just the inflatable palm trees that dotted the aisles like harbingers of a post-Colonial manifest destiny. Nor the watered-down margaritas proffered by aggressively Stepford-esque servers. Or even the music of Jimmy Buffet and Jimmy Buffet-inspired artists reminding you that the ‘70s never ended for some people. It was the food. Can you possibly make an entree called “Jimmy’s Jammin’ Jambalaya” any less appetizing? You can’t. Not even at an IHOP.
But I’m charitable. I like to share my hell. And Uncle Jimmy likes to share his version of paradise with you. If the likes of Pink Taco are just a little too somber for your taste, he’ll soon have you covered, O ye of little faith
According to a cryptic Facebook post on Thursday, the inexplicably wealthy Mississippi native and part-time dramatist plans on establishing the first of his Margaritaville restaurant chain at an undisclosed location in Boston at some point this summer. And if you’ve ever made the mistake of purchasing a pack of his “Jammin’ Jerk” frozen shrimp because you were drunk and they were on sale at the 7-11, you know you’re in for a real treat. An estimated $1.9 billion treat.
But, as Buffet’s marketing team reminds us, “It’s about the attitude, not the latitude.” Does that statement make any sense? Not particularly. Neither does hell. Boston may be home to some of the best Caribbean food north of Little Haiti, but you’re not eating at a Margaritaville for authenticity. Or his music, Or even the food itself. You’re eating because it’s a lifestyle: one fueled by equal parts crisis, equal parts diversion and equal parts frozen Margarita mix. Eating at Margaritaville willingly is an either exercise intolerance or a sense extreme masochism that makes you an infinitely more compassionate individual than I. Someone out there has to watch a Pauly Shore film. And someone has to eat at Margaritaville.
Just remember. Somewhere east of Pasadena, there’s a Captain & Tennille inspired chain of restaurants called “Muskrat Love” which never got off the ground. And you never even lifted a finger to help.
Image via Wikimedia Commons