A Midwesterner’s pilgrimage, a diabetic kick-starter, a sadder-day munch fest—a rose by any other name would still smell like deep-fried appetizers and sweaty fat people. Nervous excitement resonates throughout your body; it’s a middle school dance all over again just without the rampant erection concealing. The hunger rages inside of you like an intoxicated mother badger, distracting you from crunching numbers to calculate exactly how many plates you need to eat to break even.
You know this is like Vegas and the house usually wins, but maybe, just maybe, you can settle your jitters and rid your stomach of those space-consuming butterflies long enough to make the owner suffer a financial loss from your visit. Everything’s set as you near the front of the line; you’ve worn the stained sweatpants, you’ve starved yourself all day, and you’ve checked your shame at the door.
Finally, the hostess delivers the equivalent to “You’re familiar with piling a bunch of crap on your plate and then eating it, or do I need to walk you through this?” and, just like that, your food bender is underway.
From your heart, to your brain, to your libido, everything is racing. Urgency builds as you watch a pudgy youth with a chicken wing mountain piled high on his plate promenade back to his seat, and it’s right then the feral-orphan mentality takes over. Dominated by a gnawing appetite, you utilize your agility to dip and dodge in and out of the anthropomorphic manatees and those double-chinned biddies who are “practicing” to be pregnant by eating for two. It’s not easy; your palate has seized the reins and you’re wildly bouncing from entrée to entrée as you craft your masterpiece.
Minutes later, every piece of dish real estate is occupied and you’re satisfied. The ends justify the means—it didn’t matter that you had to push that kid out of the way and onto the ground with your free hand to snatch up the last mozzarella stick because that lone breaded, glorious stick of creamy pleasure is going to be worth it when you bite into it.
No prayers are necessary because you alone are the architect of this scrumptious magnum opus. Violent, barnyard-esque gorging ensues the second you sit down with no exception. Men’s room etiquette prevails with the entire table refraining from making eye contact or speaking. You’ve put your head down to minimize the distance your fork has to travel and to shield your face should any acquaintance or anyone you might potentially one day enjoy having intercourse with accidentally step into this gluttonous Mecca.
It’s a beautiful, tender Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell moment you’re sharing with your remaining meatballs and macaroni. Uninhibited mutual attraction abound, your jaws pump to force food into you as if your liver was to be made into foie gras. So much churning and gnashing, your mouth’s taken on qualities of processing plant machinery—flabby, sweaty, shitty processing plant machinery.
It’s like you’re dancing as if no one’s watching, dreaming as if you’ll live forever, and loving like you’ve never been hurt. Unfortunately, you couldn’t be further from the truth as fellow patrons are starting to notice your grunting and errant gravy usage while the cholesterol in said gravy tightens its already confident grip on your heart and arteries.
4. Internal Bargaining
With two plates down you’re experiencing drug-addict-like swings of hating yourself and loving yourself. You know you’re closing in on that breaking-even mark, but want to eat to the point of leaving no doubt. Your fiscally-motivated brain says continue, an order that your stomach recoils in horror at. Schemes and ploys move into the negotiations. Ideas about retreating to the bathroom to power out some “spring cleaning” are toyed with and the prospect of ipecac is discussed.
No matter when the binge ends meal the debate will continue. Counting calories or Weight Watchers points have long been out of the question. You’re at the point now of either refusing to eat for the next two days or just using those magic words and simply labeling today a “fat day” to justify your consumption.
It’s in the same category as death and taxes. Namely, if you don’t experience some form of regret in the process then you didn’t gorge hard enough. We’re like snowflakes, just a bunch of bloated, self-loathing snowflakes each experiencing remorse for different post-buffet reasons. It’ll be about the caloric realization for certain people. Some will fear the ride home, worried that their sphincter’s stamina and that the perfectly-timed pothole could send a barrage of hot dump out of their hot gates. And, a tragic few will regret not eating more and feel that they didn’t leave it all on the field.
No matter the degree of self-pity, you will be able to sleep it off. That slumber may come in a bed, on a couch, or on a toilet with your pants around your ankles, but, over time, you’ll be able to love again and, eventually, return to a buffet.