The Fabulous Familiar

Taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Serving up Social Anxiety

My family went to eat at our weekly Chinese buffet on Sunday, stirring up old feelings of buffet anxiety. I knew I had written about my fear of buffets before for "The Bison," and went on a search for the article itself. I decided to share where I think my true fear began.

I am not a fan of buffets. The funhouse mirrors—set up to make the food supply look endless—along with the constant bumping and nudging from hungry strangers is enough to ruin the whole experience for me. As you head for the sweet and sour chicken, you are forced into this relentless do-si-do dance routine with Bubba John Jenkins, who is trying to simultaneously get in line for the chow mein. And let us not forget the patience that is required as you wait for the sweet little old lady in front of you to wrestle with the tongs and grab each green bean individually as if she is fishing for a plush toy in “The Claw” arcade game.

This phobia is very inconvenient when you are born into a family of buffet lovers. Almost every Sunday, without fail, we head to New China Buffet for lunch. A few moments of silent meditation, an inner pep talk and a deep breath is all I need to get my feet moving toward the crowds of hungry people—who all seem to agree that 25 different types of meat constitutes a light lunch.

A few Sundays ago, I was minding my own buffet business when the dreaded do-si-do began with an older man. We were, for about 15 seconds it seemed, mirror images of each other. I would step right. He would still be in front of me. I would change directions—so would he. A few teeth showed as he creepily grinned at me, as if he was enjoying this game. Finally, in my Arkansas drawl, I politely said, “’Scuse me sir,” as I forced myself around him and headed for the rice. I could feel his eyes follow me as I made my way through the different lines. Suddenly—I felt a hand on my arm and turned to see my dear mullet-wearing friend. My heart stopped for a moment. “Hey, awallago (a while ago), did you say … ‘Squeeze me?’” he taunted. The laugh. The wink. My world went black. Was this really happening to me? The buffet was only $8.00—this was way more than I bargained for.

I try to convince my family that menu restaurants cost more for a reason. Yes, Dad—buffets allow you to combine any selection of food on your plate. A cornucopia of colors, your plate can host cinnamon rolls next to corn-on-the-cob or macaroni and cheese that blends in with your pudding. Menu restaurants, however, offer comfort and security. I like nothing more than sliding into a booth and knowing that no one can touch me, accuse me of wanting to be squeezed or awkwardly dance with me as we try to change lines. A waiter or waitress in a classy black outfit will cheerfully greet me with his or her name as they pour me my water; I breathe a sigh of relief because I am free of the soda fountain disaster that buffets offer. Why do I always get behind the kid mixing all of the sodas together to make a “graveyard” or “tornado” concoction?

My brother, a football player, commented the other day that he likes the buffet atmosphere because it is an understood rule that you can run into people and cut in front of them as long as you apologize. This must be an unspoken, testosterone-driven law of buffet behavior. I, on the other hand, do not like to risk my life for green jello—despite its wiggly goodness.

Knights in shining armor, riding up on white stallions, are so overrated. Girls aren’t in a deep sleep, needing true love’s kiss to wake them up. Their hair isn’t hanging down from the top of a tower. Buffets are the way to go. Let your girl loose at Ryan’s and swoop in and save her from the scary masses. We lack the killer instinct to survive in the buffet world. On second thought, ride up in your ’95 white Honda Accord and take her to Doc’s Grill or Colton’s—even Arby’s will put her at ease.


Blogger HannahKey said...

And you have me rolling yet again..... I love to laugh and you always know exactly what to say to get me goin'!

And what is it with you attracting old creeps...? ;-)

Love you. Miss you. I am planning my next trip to Arkansas.

October 19, 2010 at 10:53 PM  
Blogger Cole said...

hahaha this made me literally LOL in my office. Love it!

January 26, 2011 at 1:30 PM  

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