A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Buffet of Life

I am vacationing in Catawissa this week, which is situated on the eastern branch of the Susquehanna River roughly halfway between Wilkes Barre and Sunbury, Pennsylvania. My main goal for this vacation was to help my Mom clear out Dad's shop and garage for an imminent sale of the Gunther homestead. It has been slow going for this project, since I have suffered from a bad head cold and I've been distracted by a few buffets in the area.

Buffet has to be my most favorite word of the English language. It's so soft and supple that it just rolls off the tongue without stinging the lips. If I could be allowed a second philosophy of life, I would include the word buffet in it. For example: "Life is a buffet of experiences to be tasted and savored with every trip to the table within your soul." However, for the purpose of today's blog, we will refer to buffet in the physical sense, namely that place with lots and lots of food that threatens our cholesterol levels as surely as it devastates our waistlines.

My favorite buffet is Chinese, and so far this week I have been to the same Chinese buffet twice. My nephews love their local Chinese buffet and their favorite part is the stir fry station. I like that also, but I'm partial to peel & eat shrimp. However, on our second visit this week, they seemed more interested in seeing how much artificial sweetener they could put into their tiny cup of hot tea.

This is always an interesting experiment, and my oldest nephew, David, found that two sweetener packets was just right for what I believe to be five ounces of tea. He used every packet of sweetener on the table, which didn't leave any sweetener for Uncle Todd's iced tea. Now we had a problem. My brother raided the sugar/sweetener box from another table, and we were all happy again.

This reminded me of the time many years ago when two college buds wanted to see how much sugar I could stand in my tea. They thought I used an extraordinary amount (three packets) for one cup, but I argued that each packet could not equal a teaspoon of sugar, since I could barely taste anything after two packets. I sometimes wondered if there was indeed sugar in the packets at all! My friends were more than happy to oblige me this time and, one by one, they dumped more packets into my cup. I don't know why we stopped when we did -- whether it was the fact that that my drink turned from a liquid to a sludge-like substance, or that my eyes bugged out of my head with every sip, or that we simply ran out of sugar packets at the table -- but I ended up with 18 sugar packets in my eight ounces of hot tea. At the time we believed that this had to be a world's record.

Today's buffet was lunch at the local Pizza Hut. Once again, it was a delightful gastrological experience. I had another motive besides hunger for visiting this buffet: nostalgia. Whenever my father was working at the local Acme, I would come down from Bloomsburg University when my schedule permitted and meet him at this same Pizza Hut for the buffet. Back then, they offered the Bit, the Bite, or the Bunch, with each one allowing the diner more trips to the salad and pizza bar than the previous level (Bit would equal one slice and one salad; the Bite would equal two slices and a salad; the Bunch would equal all you can eat). Today there is one level, one price and you choose how much or how little you eat. I figured that it had been twenty-seven years since the time I would meet my Dad for lunch. Today I ate alone with my memory of him sitting across from me, enjoying some wonderful Italian food.

Now, I am full and I must do more cleaning. One week is not enough time to clear out a shop, a house, and a garage with all of their memories of a productive lifetime. The work of sorting is tedious, but every object had a purpose at one time and must be dealt with one last time. That purpose may be lost now and the object will be discarded forever. Still, with every item thrown out or saved, I can savor the memory of each at my own buffet of life.


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