There was a time when I was as much of a fixture at the all-you-can-eat buffet as is that crusty orange stuff atop the macaroni and cheese when it sits undisturbed under a heat lamp for too long.
Or as I refer to that time, "the good ol' days." Or as my doctor refers to that time, "When you started your speedy spiral toward death."
I made the decision to slow that spiral toward death, which required me to make a few lifestyle changes. I incorporated a little exercise beyond pushing buttons on the remote, and I quit hanging out with Charlie Sheen. I also cut down on visits to the buffet. (Not visits per trip, but visits altogether.)
It's one of the most painful decisions I've ever made, right behind the decision to put my finger in a light socket to see if it still had electricity even without a bulb in it. Of course, it did, but I was just a kid then, and you can't expect a kid of just 37 years old to know stuff like that.
My wife is thrilled with the decision to stay away from the buffet -- probably because she's the one who actually made the decision. She says it's because she's concerned about my health, but she's lying. She just doesn't want to go because she finds them utterly disgusting.
Disgusting for a girl, maybe. For a guy, all the things she finds disgusting just adds to the ambiance. And I mean real, football-watching, loud-burping, not-afraid-to-scratch-in-public guys. You know? Classy guys like me.
But she was forced to go to the buffet last weekend. We have a standing rule that when one of our boys gets straight A's on their report card, they get to pick a restaurant outing. And both boys keep getting straight A's, so they're either really smart or very hungry. My stepson picked an all-you-can-eat buffet -- much to the delight of 75 percent of the people in the house, the three
He picked one of the big chain buffets where there are 22 meats, 48 vegetables and 111 desserts to choose from. He got one of each. I was in heaven, although I'm out of practice and had to hold myself to just 11 meats and 24,357 calories.
But there was a problem. We sat in the wrong place. We sat where my wife could see the buffet, at least the dessert portion. And now I know why a lot of these buffets have signs that say kids should be accompanied to the buffet by an adult.
She watched in horror as a little girl dropped her ice cream cone upside down on the floor, then picked it up and began eating it again. She saw a barefoot little girl dig out gummy animals for her ice cream with a serving spoon, then lick the serving spoon and put it back. She saw another little girl sample cotton candy, then put it back, wet and sticky and leaning against another stick of cotton candy. And she saw yet another little girl stick her finger into the nozzle of the ice cream dispenser. And so on.
"See, it's not the buffet but the buffet buzzards that gross me out!" she said of her reason for disliking the buffet.
Indeed. Obviously, little girls are the problem, so I now propose that buffets be reserved for those who truly appreciate their greatness and let's make them for boys only.
It'd be just like the boys-only treehouses we had when I was growing up -- only with yummy crusty orange stuff.
-- Chris Johnson is an independent correspondent whose "Best of Chris Johnson" is now available from Amazon's Kindle Store. Follow him at Facebook.com/KudzuKidWriting.