So this didn't actually go as bad as it could've gone, to be fair. The pasta was great, and the mixture of seasoning and the ingredient that kicks it up from perfect to divine - pancetta, may all worship your greatness - turned out pretty spectacular. Together, they did not make a bad pasta salad.
This was quite fortuitous since the sauce seemed destined to fail. There is not yet a consensus on exactly where it went wrong. Whether the milk was too hot or too cold, or I added the cheese too fast or not fast enough... no matter. The end result was liquid and curds, which was very interesting. Apparently, it didn't even suck that way - according to those who were brave enough to try adding it to their pasta and microwaving it. I admittedly was done trying to save it at that point, and just had the pasta with the pancetta and seasonings, which like I said was still pretty top-notch.
So what have we learned from this experience? One, I am occasionally skilled in the kitchen, because it didn't figuratively blow up in my face until the last step. Two, I should probably learn new dishes in person first, and not over text message because there are things that get lost in translation. Three, people did no go hungry, so you know, I'm still counting it as a partial win.
And at the end of the day, I still had my dad's Christmas gift to share with him: A big bottle of Stone's collaboration IPA, appropriately named "Sorry Not Sorry." That makes a lot of things much better.