With a title like that, you would expect this post to really deliver, right? Actually, that’s what this post is all about.
Morah and I watched two lousy movies over the weekend. We were disappointed by the first and enjoyed the second. So what movies were these? The first was License to Wed, and second was Knocked Up. We knew going into both of them that they would be cheesy, dopey comedies – the kind of movies I always say require you to, “turn off your brain and laugh.”
We knew going into each of them that they wouldn’t be anything special, but we expected the outcome to be the other way around – that is, we thought we would enjoy License to Wed and dislike Knocked Up. So what happened? Why the reversal of our expectations?
It turns out, expectation has everything to do with it. Because License to Wed has Robin Williams in it, I expected the movie to be better simply by virtue of his being in it. Unfortunately, that was not the case. Not only did I hate his character, I didn’t like the way he played it (or perhaps, was directed to play it). I’ve seen Robin Williams play serious-but-funny characters before, which is what I felt this character needed. Instead, we got a performance that reminded of the coked-out Robin Williams I saw on an HBO special from the mid ’80s.
Everything I had heard about Knocked Up was that it was a terrible movie with a few funny lines, so that’s what I expected. For the most part, that’s what it was, but there were more one-liners that I expected, and some of them were so funny, that by the inciting incident, I was enjoying the film. It was still a dopey movie, but it was a dopey movie that I found to be not completely awful.
As Barry Schwartz so aptly put it, the secret to happiness is to have low expectations. When we have high expectations, things tend not to live up to them. On the other hand, when we have low expectations, as soon as something proves itself to be mediocre, we’re already getting more from it than we thought we would, and that makes us happy.
Another case of failure to live up to expectations was when Morah and I went to lunch yesterday. We like to try out new restaurants, and we thought the Herbal Essence Cafe sounded pretty good. The name should have warned us. The dÃ©cor was disjointed at best. A saltwater fish tank mixed with Asian-inspired table settings, all of which was accented by African masks. The music wasn’t any better. ’60s rock was followed by ’80s pop, and I gave up on listening when Who Let the Dogs Out came on. Seriously. In a cafÃ©. If they had looked around, they might have noticed that the majority of their patrons were senior citizens, and perhaps someone would have switched the channel over to jazz or something.
All of that should have warned us, but a co-worker recommended the food. In particular, she recommended the chicken Gorgonzola wrap, which, although it isn’t in the name, also has bacon on it. I like chicken, Gorgonzola, and bacon, so that’s what I ordered. Morah ordered one of the specials: Seafood CrÃªpes. They were a “crab and shrimp mix rolled into two sweetened crÃªpes, laid in a bed of tomato basil sauce, topped with a garlic aioli sauce and served with a Caesar salad.” Sounds good, right?
The food arrived and was extremely disappointing. My wrap was okay, but the bacon was weak, and I could hardly taste the Gorgonzola (which, if you’ve ever eaten Gorgonzola, you’ll know is odd). There was also some kind of oily liquid that dripped all over my hands. It was pretty gross.
The real disaster was Morah’s meal, however. The crÃªpes seemed to be prepared by someone who knew what they were doing. I was particularly worried about the them, so when I saw that they were made properly, I was hopeful. Unfortunately, the crab and shrimp mix was a little too salty, and the tomato basil sauce was a train wreck. Seafood and crÃªpes are both very delicate and subtle foods. The tomato basil sauce tasted like barbecue sauce! It was strong and smoky; two things that the sauce definitely shouldn’t have been.
We pondered over whether or not to send it back, but I my lunch break was running short and Morah had already eaten almost 1 entire crepe. In the end, we simply decided never to eat there again.
In this instance, we wouldn’t have enjoyed the food, even if we would have expected something awful. The difference is that, before we went in, we had high hopes. Unfortunately, the higher the hopes, the longer the fall.