Monday, December 04, 2006

Surviving the Midwestern Brunch Buffet

As I believe I mentioned before, I dragged the Boyf back to the Midwest for Thanksgiving. The Boyf was an absolute angel the whole time, even helping my dad put a new "topper" for his pickup truck on the bed of the vehicle. (I wish I were making that part up, but I am assuredly not.)

Usually the Boyf is pretty understanding of the Midwest and all its odd and gaudy trappings, but there was one thing this vacation that I was worried that he simply wouldn't understand: the Midwestern Brunch Buffet.

The restaurant we went to for brunch that Sunday morning is pricey for the area I'm from, which means going there is a real treat for some families. (Case in point: My mom wore perfume and a blazer. But that doesn't mean that other people dress up for it. Three words: tapered, stonewashed jeans. And don't forget the requisite ball caps.) The restaurant also has a distinct wildlife theme, complete with giant fish tank and wall-mounted heads of animals such as African deer that I'm not entirely sure it's still legal to hunt. What was slightly disturbing to me wasn't that I was offended by the taxidermy or felt compelled to call PETA; I was concerned that I was so disaffected by all of it. "So the biscuits-and-gravy station is under a baboon head. What of it?" Also, I might mention that the buffet consists of two concentric circles. There's no discernible beginning, middle, or end, which means that crashing into crazed hungry people with visions of fried catfish dancing in their heads is pretty much par for the juice-coated, bacon-strewn course.

If I had prepared properly for our outing, I would have done some recon work in order to present the Boyf with this handy primer once I saw his wide eyes:

How to Survive a Midwestern Brunch Buffet:

1. Want more food than fits on one plate? Just take two!
One of our first buffet treats was feasting our eyes on a beer-bellied gent in tapered jeans and a Kansas City Chiefs sweatshirt who was bringing his booty (and his food, yuk-yuk) back to his table. He had two full plates -- one in each hand. Two. And I want to add that this is an unlimited buffet. Apparently making another 25-foot trip back to the buffet to get a second helping was just too time-consuming for this man, so he decided to maximize the helping for as little effort as possible. Bravo, sir. Bravo.

2. Use your girth to muscle women and children out of your way.
I was standing in line patiently in order to fish two sausage links out of a steaming vat, and when my turn came, I stepped up only to be cut off by a 300-pound 70-something grandpa wearing overalls and a red flannel shirt. No "Excuse me," no "Sorry," just some good, old-fashioned pushin' in order to get some processed pork meat. To add insult to injury, two more pudgy little girls weaseled their way in front of me before I could finally get my hands on the greasy protein.

3. Show disproportionate concern for others while neglecting your own health.
After my trip to the aforementioned biscuits-and-gravy station, I turned away to move on to the next circuit in my calorie cross-training program. Then the sweetest, most melodic, Dolly Parton-esque voice came from behind me: "Is this your juice?" I whirled around to see a 5-foot-tall obese woman motioning to a tiny plastic cup of OJ left at the biscuit station. "Nope, it's not mine," I said. And I felt sorry for her. Maybe unnecessarily, but I did.

Finally, I was able to make off with some white gravy over hot biscuits and other assorted goodies.

"This is fat-people chaos!" I hissed to my little sister as I sat down with my (single) plate of fruit, muffiny pastries, yogurt, and sausage.

"Yeah," she said without flinching, "you really have to hold your own in there."

No kidding, sis. Maybe next time I'll bring my ball cap so I can use its bill to peck people out of the way.


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