I’ve always been a good eater.
Ask my mom. She’ll proudly tell you that from day one, I have been her only child who consistently cleans my plate meal after meal. This is much more than can be said for my brothers. I have never encountered pickier eaters than those three. One night when he was a toddler, it literally took Joel three hours to eat half of one bean (you know, from a Pork ‘n Beans can). A half a bean- that’s all my mom required! And our family still talks about the time when Kurt spent two tearful hours picking at a meatball sub before craftily stashing it on a beam under the kitchen table. Squished broccoli and carrot bites have been found countless times between the couch cushions and my mom long ago mastered the “mouth check” before excusing the boys to the bathroom mid-meal. Yet throughout all this, I was always the one child who could always be counted on to not only pound my own meal, but to ensure nobody else's went to waste either. This probably explains why I have a higher BMI than all three of my brothers.
Fast forward to last night. After Brock finished the last final of his college career, we naturally decided to seize the opportunity as a good excuse to go out on the town for a nice meal.
Now if Brock and I were normal, a “nice meal” would be found at Texas Roadhouse, Happy Sumo or maybe some unique, hole-in-the-wall café, right? Maybe a trip up to Salt Lake or even a Café Rio run. Once there, we’d pose for individual photos with our respective untouched meals. Then mid meal, we’d stop for some “candid” eating shots then end with the night with the token “I’m so stuffed” shot. (“Very funny” sick faces while pointing to our empty plates/full tummies.) Keep in mind we’d be wearing fashionable coordinating outfits during this. I’d post these pictures on my blog, along with a list detailing each item of clothing worn and where it’s from.
But Brock and I are not normal.
I think it’s a guy thing; sometimes Brock just craves quantity. Sheer volume of food. In this case, no regards are given to taste, nutritional value, or freshness. And what better place to find this spread of cuisine than a Chinese Buffet. I personally like buffets, as they typically house fabulous salad bars. I’ve always been a huge salad bar supporter. So yes, last night we celebrated Brock’s passing from college student to career holding adult at a restaurant literally called “Buffet”.
“Buffet” is located between the Provo ShopKo and Movies 8- a fabulous Provo hot spot. Although a few of its neon letters had unfortunately died, the glowing “uffet- al ou Can Eat!” was enough to get us inside the building. (Side note: just to give you a nice visual, we did not get “ready” for the night. Brock was wearing some sort of cut-off sweat pants and I was still rocking my sweaty gym clothes.)
It was the worst place I have ever been. It's not like I have frequented many seedy dives in the past, but this place just wasn’t right. Upon entering, we were smacked in the face with a wave of humid fish air. Seriously, I quickly scanned the lobby for a vaporizer filled with tuna water, but all I saw were rows of candy machines and lots Chinese horoscope readings. However I was confident that the salad bar would come through for me and provide me the celebratory dinner I was craving. Wrong. The “salad bar” consisted of a mixing bowl of shredded iceberg lettuce and a cereal bowl holding about a tablespoon of cubed ham. Oh, and there was a canister of corn water with a few kernels floating around. I decided to check out the dessert area next (salad>dessert>dinner, in my book). The cream puffs looked like plastic play kitchen food. And the jello creation was most likely shipped straight from the hospital. Moving on, I decided to just go for it and clog my arteries with the “Buffet’s” headline spread. I feebly loaded up a sad plate of items that looked like they had sat in a chafing dish well over a full day; most dishes were pretty picked over. You could tell because the oil component had separated from the water component in most of the sauces. And you know how it is with Chinese food- lots of sauces. We sat down and Brock immediately dug in. After all, there is no time to waste when quantity of food is the goal. The smell wafting up from my plate was obviously not affecting him like it was me. I lifted my fork a few times to take a meager teriyaki sauce soaked bite, but just couldn’t seem to follow through. What was wrong with me? I'm a good eater! As I sat there, I progressively grew sicker. I physically felt worse every time I inhaled, visualizing the oil infused air settling in my pores. Then in my arteries. Even good eaters have their limits. I pushed my untouched plate away for the first time in my life.
“I’m sorry Brock, I gotta go sit in the car.”
“Okay, I’m gonna get a few more plates. Here are the keys. I’ll be out in a while.”
And that is how I spent Brock’s graduation dinner in front seat of the Mazda while Brock enjoyed his quantity fix by himself. It was probably quite pleasant for him. He got to eat all the egg-fu-young he could handle, un-judged, while reading news articles on his phone.
We had a good laugh when Brock finally returned to the car, sick, satisfied and smelling slightly of deep-fried wonton. We agreed that even Chinese Buffets should be held to a higher standard. No more “Buffet” for these good eaters. No, from now on we’ll only be dining at the finest of establishments. Namely, China Buffet on State Street in North Orem. Perhaps a Sizzler run every now and then. And maybe we’ll even take pictures.