2017-04-21 / Commentary

Strapping on the feedbag once again

40–Something

I have a long and mixed history with buffets. I enjoyed them immensely until a fateful trip to one that used to be on Decker Boulevard. We’ll just call it “The Smorgasbord” to protect the lives of the innocent.

I was about to enter my teenage years when The Smorgasbord was still around. So at that time, it was much easier for my mom to strap a metaphorical feedbag on me than it was to keep a refrigerator stocked. So, we spent a lot of time at this particular buffet.

For a while, The Smorgasbord worked out just fine for my mom and me. I could eat until they had to roll me out of there, and I didn’t care that the only things that ever seemed to be in our refrigerator were an empty jar of Duke’s mayonnaise and several open cans of Coke.

(For some reason, my mom thought she could drink half a Coke and save the rest for later, but the “saved” Coke was always flat and undrinkable. Instead of throwing it away, she’d open another and drink half of it...and then stick it in the fridge for later beside the other one. To this day, I find half-empty Cokes in her fridge. Not sure what’s going on there, but back to the buffets...)

Not long after this smorgasbord welcomed my pre-pubescent self into its endless varieties of fried food, I discovered just how important a sneeze shield can be and that a vat of applesauce is a very popular destination for used Band-Aids. Needless to say, that experience tainted my view on buffets and apparently many other clientele because The Smorgasbord closed shortly thereafter.

Luckily for me, a Chinese buffet opened on the opposite side of Decker Boulevard. It restored my faith in buffets and introduced me to sweet and sour chicken. It was clean, and it saved me from Duke’s and flat Cokes. It was everything a teenage boy could ever want.

My fondness for Chinese buffets never went away, but as I grew older, the quality buffets themselves did. They became as rare as a Chinese brown panda.

So, when I found out about a buffet in Five Points some years later, I decided to take my college girlfriend there as a treat. Unfortunately, this place had a lot in common with The Smorgasbord, and I’m guessing a few visits from the health inspector sped up its conversion to a bar.

That girlfriend didn’t leave me at the sneeze shield. In fact, she married me a couple years later, but she has refused to step foot in another buffet— Chinese or otherwise— since our little unfortunate date.

Well, fast-forward about 25 years or so to the present. Not that it’s a bad thing because calories count now, but with my wife’s aversion to eating from vats of food and the rarity that is the Chinese buffet, I haven’t been able to strap on that particular feedbag since the Five Points incident.

But that all changed this past weekend.

My wife was out of town with my middle daughter touring colleges, and my eldest daughter was already away at school. That left me at home alone with my 14- year-old son.

I could not let this opportunity slip by because the rare and allusive Chinese buffet is alive and well near my house and doling out endless vats of sweet and sour chicken. My wife may not eat that, but my teenage son certainly will.

We attacked that buffet like we hadn’t eaten in weeks. I can’t speak for my boy, but the wife won’t have to worry about me pestering her for a return trip because I ate enough to last another 25 years.

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