Wednesday, May 11, 2011

All I Can Eat



The words “all you can eat” have always presented themselves as a personal challenge. I used to take offense at the implication that a single restaurant, or food service facility, could possibly expect to offer all that I can eat. As I sit 3 feet away from my computer with my stomach still touching the edge of my desk, I am beginning to understand the real implications of those 4 sinister words.

Let us dissect the meaning of the hellish phrase that has so recently caused me an abnormal amount of physical pain. The trouble with this phrase lays in the word “all.” What is this “all” that is being referenced? Does it refer to an infinite variety? The latest culprit of my extremely upset stomach calls itself the “Golden Corral.” This endless feeding trough did indeed have “all” the variety I could have desired. As I grazed along this golden showcase among a herd of angry cattle, I found myself placing tacos next to pizza, ribs on top of my orange chicken, and sprinkling my plate with a layer of popcorn shrimp. Surely this was “all” the variety that I could eat. Even though each of my four stomach compartments was full with a different type of food, I have come to the conclusion that variety is not the “all” that is so blatantly promised.

Perhaps “all” simply implies that of whatever food may be in the restaurant, one has permission to eat. Among the many items being offered, of all of them you may partake. Do they change the sign on Tuesdays to say “Only chicken you can eat?” Or perhaps by Sunday afternoon “Leftovers you can eat?” Though I admit the possibility of Wednesday being the only unrestricted “all” day of the week, I saw no signs of limited eating in the days to come.

Yes, “all” must be directly correlated to quantity. This raises the question: how much can I eat? I have learned over the years: too much. Every time in my life that I have been dared to pay a fee in order to eat all that I can, I have left the challenge less of a man. Today was no exception. The first 4 plates were a simple exploration of options to see what this corral of precious gold had to offer. Plates 5-6 were dedicated solely to those options found most enjoyable. I refer to these plates as the “All-star round.” As I entered the all-star round at the Golden Corral, I noticed something: what little self respect I had left seemed to be moving its way into my stomach to force the removal of plates 1 through 4 by whatever means necessary.

As I strain to breathe by wheezing loudly due to the intense pressure forced on my lungs by an enlarged stomach, I finally understand that the world has already seen all that I can eat. I will no longer be lured in by those cunning b*****s (buffets). I will let others determine how much I can and should eat through Texas Sized Combos of ribs and steak, or extra large value meals. When left to my own devices at a buffet, I will overindulge in a masochistic desire to prove how much I can eat. From now on, I will let the professionals like Ronald McDonald, Wendy, and the King of Burgers tell me how much to eat, and I will be a better man for it.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Baby Face

So often, the youth of today go to great lengths to appear older than they are. With age come certain benefits: alcohol, STD’s, unwanted pregnancies... the list goes on. To control and restrain this desire to mature more quickly than is natural, society has placed limits to one’s activities based on the age of the participant. Though necessary in many circumstances, I have found these restrictions to be a nuisance in my life, and often times humiliating.

My entire life has been plagued with people voluntarily sharing with me how old they thought I was. Why anyone in their right mind would guess another’s age, I do not know, but they loved to guess mine. I can only be grateful they never tried to guess my weight.

At 18, I was asked to leave the Emergency Exit Row on an airplane because you have to be 15 or older to sit there. Up until I turned 14, I was repeatedly given the kids menu at restaurants that said brightly on the top “9 and under.” I kept the crayons.

After a few years without embarrassment, I slowly began to forget these traumatic experiences and move on with my adult life. This last week, I was on board a cruise ship in the Gulf of Mexico. In an attempt at exploration, we ventured into the 18+ dance club. A grumpy looking Indonesian security guard stood at the door. Colton walked right by him into the abandoned club. As I was halfway through the door, he stopped me. In broken English he explained that I had to be 18 to enter. In loud and exaggerated English, I explained that I was 24. He laughed and told me I could not get in without an ID. As I walked away through 4 bars and a Casino without being checked, I felt like I was 16 again back at Red Robin coloring in my menu before ordering Chick-Chick-Chicken fingers and a freckled lemonade.