Just say no to weekend lunch buffets

Well it finally happened last night, I finally had a dream about a weatherman showing a warm patch of air rising from the Gulf Coast and warming up the midwest. I can picture the guy, actually kneeling down and showing the movement of the warm air, and it was oddly arousing. That’s where I’m at with this winter. I realize there is nothing less interesting than talking about the weather, but if you live anywhere north of the Mason-Dixon line - or the greater metropolitan area of Atlanta for that matter - and you life is interesting to the point of not thinking about this weather at least once every five minutes, then I salute you. There are whispers and rumors of temperatures above the freezing point in our not-so-distant future, and I will use these heartwarming thoughts to get through yet another another bone chilling night - also a heap of blankets and modern housewarming devices, but mostly happy thoughts.

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I went with my family to a buffet brunch today. If you want to see a wide swath of what humanity has to offer, go to a buffet, on Sunday, around lunchtime. There’s a wonderful mix of Mad Max and The Lord of the Flies that seems to be the touchstones of how people act at a large buffet restaurant. Every time I got up to get another plate of food I had to steel my reserve, because it’s rough out there. There was an onslaught of people all pushing their way towards the good food, and an equally sizable force of people heading back to their table with their filled plates: a trophy from their successful journey.

One thing you will notice if you go to enough buffet dinners is that no one is smiling on their way to, or back from, the buffet. There are multiple reasons for this.

1. The first, and probably most obvious answer is that it is never your idea to go to a buffet on a weekend. If you are reading this, I’m going to assume you are a person of reasonable intelligence, and know better than to go a buffet on weekend. Buffets are a fantastic option when it comes to getting a bunch of food for cheap, but a gentleman or lady knows that you go during the week when you can eat your mountain of food in relative privacy. If you go on the weekend you have to be a firsthand witness to how disgusting our country is about how much feed we are willing to shove into our face when the prices, as well as our pride, are close to zero.

2. During the weekend rush there is a considerable amount of zig zagging that is required to get to the food, and who wants to exhort any physical effort to get food at a restaurant? If I wanted to work for my food I would have stayed home and made a souffle like they make Food network, but I don’t have that kind of patience or ability. If I make the effort to put on pants, get in a car, and drive to a restaurant, I want people to serve me damn it! I would also prefer food that is made to order, not a piece of steak that has been sitting under a heating lamp for the last twenty minutes.

3. This is something that I see almost every time I go to a buffet during busy hours. Maybe my brain is starting to seek this sort of thing out now, but it’s unavoidable, no matter how much I try to put it out of my mind. I always see someone either sneeze directly on food, or watch someone cough in their hands then grab the tongs used to scoop up food I’m going to want to east with my hands. Thankfully I’m not much of a germaphobe, but it always bums me out a little bit.

4. I have a feeling that people who have multiple young children believe that a buffet is the one kind of restaurant that they can go to and not have to worry about feeling bad about their kids screaming. I’m pretty sure there was a vote that happened thirty years ago by some kind of secret society of parents, and now we are all living with the consequences. If you happen to be a parent, and have any inside information on the subject, I’d love to know. If you are not allowed to say anything, I completely understand.

So yeah, there’s a lot of undesirable aspects to weekend dining at a large buffet restaurant, but when I’m invited to a free meal, I’m not going to say no. I actually really enjoy the people watching, and I have no shame when it comes to shoveling three servings of food like macaroni, ribs and fried chicken down my gullet when I know I’m going to be running six miles next week. The regrets I have about today’s buffet eating experience is that I didn’t just go in my pajamas, or brought my own condiments. Next time I’m in the middle of a crowded buffet line, I’m going to be carrying a sack full of condiments like A1, Cholula Hot Sauce, Sweet Baby Rays and six pack of beer - because this is America damn it.