Bjorn and I have a terrible habit.
You would probably never guess it just to look at us, but we do it fairly frequently, and at some cost to ourselves— physically, mentally and financially.
We know the consequences are terrible: we have suffered headaches, nausea and pain so intense we thought about actually calling 9-1-1. But promises break, steely wills shatter and strategies are futile once we are within sight of our temptation. We don’t ever feel good about ourselves afterward, and yet we keep doing it.
We keep eating at buffets.
Bjorn at a buffet in S. KoreaMe at a buffet in Reno, Nev.
Or rather: We keep gorging ourselves at buffets. Two or three plates of food are not enough—we must strive for that fifth plate to “make it really worth it.”
We have stopped fighting it, and give ourselves over to it completely now. On appointed buffet days, it goes without saying that we will fast for most of the day to ensure maximum appetite. I wear a billowing tunic (aka “an eating dress”) that allows my sides and stomach to expand. Bjorn pulls his shirt out, I put my hair up and we go to town.
Recently, we found ourselves at Hometown Buffet. Bjorn was on quite the roll. Before I was even done with the two plates of food I had brought back with me, he was on his third. After my third plate, the skin was stretched taut over my distended tummy. I got up and staggered a few laps around the restaurant in an effort to settle my stomach, earning me some concerned glances from the other patrons and open-mouthed staring from their kids. Finally, after piling 3 more small plates with dessert, Bjorn said, “Let’s get out of here before anyone sees us.
“No one is ever proud to have gone to Hometown Buffet.”
He was right, of course. I just wish he hadn’t said it while we were still inside the restaurant… within earshot of our server.
We finally made it outside. I was literally doubled over by the weight of my belly. I could not stand up straight. I wanted to curl up on the sidewalk and lay there for a long, long time. Bjorn convinced me to keep walking through the parking lot, albeit severely hunched over. A young girl inside a minivan kept staring at me with genuine concern. The minivan slowed as it rolled up to us. I thought they might stop and call 9-1-1 but apparently the crazed look of pain on my face overwhelmed their compassion and they drove away.
I have asked myself why I can’t stop when I am comfortably full. I have argued to myself that 2 plates, with a small plate of salad and another one of dessert IS enough to justify the cost. I have pointed out that all the pain and self-loathing I go through afterward aren’t worth it.
The body will forget all the pain, the mind disavow the shame, the swollen stomach subside. And sometime in the near future, I know I will say, “Hey, I hear there’s a good new buffet…”
Jammie Karlman is the entertainment editor for the Chico Enterprise-Record. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @JammieKarlman