I can’t think of one single occasion that someone has said, “Hey! You know what we should do? We should go to the buffet.” and had it work out well for me.
Chinese buffets, the Golden Corral, Ponderosa. Every occasion is met with unrestrained excitement at paying a flat fee to gorge myself at whim. For eight of my american dollars I can literally eat a bucket of fried chicken and then ladle macaroni and cheese on top of that, add a slice of ham onto it and make it into a sort of diabetes pie? And I can do that as many times as I’m physically able? God bless us everyone!
Of course after plate three I’m always ready to drown myself in the soup tureens. I go into a black out and wake up an hour later on the toilet with tears in my eyes and a meat sweat soaking my clothes.
But do I learn?
“Jane wants to go to Hometown Buffet for her birthday.” Sadie said last week.
“What’s Hometown Buffet?”
“It’s… a buffet.”
Fuck no, I don’t learn.
Jane and Sadie made my ass wait until 3:00 in the afternoon for the dinner buffet to start. I hadn’t eaten anything so I was ravenous and in no mood to pace myself. When we pulled into the parking lot Sadie had to ask me top stop licking the window so she could roll it up all the way.
Hometown Buffet has that innocuous, middle american look to it. You can picture it in any oversized strip mall parking lot in any state in the country. It’s the sort of restaurant that you can take the whole family to after church and it no one would think of bringing up politics, or batting an eyelash when little Timmy smears his mashed potatoes on the seat.
Jane peered around the dining room and remarked that we had to be the only people in our twenties in the whole establishment that weren’t actually employed there.
I let Jane pay first, because it was the girls birthday after all, but was levitating on the balls of my feet by the time i got close enough to thrust my ten dollar bill into the face of the girl at the counter.
“Okay. Now remember, the trick is to pace yourse-” Sadie started.
I let out a guttural war cry that sounded a bit like: “SAHHLAAAAAAAHD BAAAAAAAAHHHHHR!” and rushed past her.
I’m going to do my best to relate to you, succulent readers, what we ate and said after I loosed that scream and terrified the octogenarian trying to get to the bathroom, but in all honesty it’s an unhappy blur after that first plate of an excuse to eat ranch dressing.
Jane had a very demure looking salad on her plate by the time I returned with my own mound of toppings, sans lettuce and extra bacon crumbles. She apparently thought to interject some somber dignity into this occasion. Sadie, meanwhile had either disregarded her advice about pacing oneself or just had different views on what “pacing” entailed, had a plate of maccaroni and cheese with a side of fried I-wasn’t-sure-yet.
“What’s that, Sadie?” Asked Jane.
Sadie picked it up and examined it. “I don’t…” She took an experimental bite. I leaned over to look at it.
“Chicken fried steak.” I said with authority.
“Ugh. I don’t eat beef. Do you want it?” She thrust it away in disgust. I snatched it from her hand and stuffed it, whole into my mouth.
Now at this point I was satisfied. I’d had a bowl of soup, salad and the suspect chicken fried steak. I could have stopped eating, so I got up and fetched a scoop of pasta Primavera made from over done noodles and two handfuls of pop corn shrimp. Then a chunk of leathery calzone.
I shoved the detritus on the plastic plate away from myself and just…Just sat there for a minute. Jane stared at me from over her second macaroni and cheese.
“You aren’t done. You can’t be done.”
“I don’t know if I can keep doing this, you guys.”
Sadie grabbed my jaw and glared into my face.
“Well you fucking find a way. Now get back out there.” She stood to let me out of the booth which is how the ham, the mashed potatoes and all that gravy happened.
I couldn’t finish all the ham. I slumped in the booth, falling asleep and wanting to vomit all at once. Sadie was starting to look a little green herself and Jane set her fork down and asked what we all were thinking.
“Why are we doing this to ourselves?”
“I don’t know.” Said Sadie. She looked at me with glassy eyes. “Leia. Leia, get up there.”
“Noooo, pleeeease, no…”
So there was another salad, another attempt at soup. I figured vegetables would fix the way I felt inside but I was wrong.
I shoved all of it towards Jane when I hit maximum capacity and she groaned and pushed it away towards the window our booth sat by. I slurred a thank you at the waiter when he came to pick up our sorry state of affairs.
“Leia…” Sadie started.
“Fuck off, Sadie.”
“Hey. I don’t want to fight with you. I just want to know if you want to go check out the deserts.”
With tears welling in my eyes I said, “Yes. Yes I do.”