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Rules of Engagement: The All-You-Can-Eat Chinese Buffet

Rules of Engagement: The All-You-Can-Eat Chinese Buffet

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Published by Steven Church
An older "instructional" essay I wrote, one that often gets trotted out for open mic readings. Just for fun.
An older "instructional" essay I wrote, one that often gets trotted out for open mic readings. Just for fun.

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Published by: Steven Church on Sep 12, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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09/12/2010

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 Rules of Engagement: Chinese Buffet
Steven Church
1
.
W
hen ordering the Buffet option at a Chinese restaurant, you must say, "I'll
do
theBuffet." You will notice the use of the action verb "do"--as in
do
s
ome
c
oke,
 
do
th
e
 Macar 
en
a
,
 
or
do
ou
r l
ove
r--
suggesting some sort of feverished debaucherous activity.You will not
o
de
the buffet or
dine
at
the buffet. You will
DO
the Buffet³like you
do
other naughty things. And you should be prepared, protected, and pro-active. Youwill forage for your own food, competing with other large hungry mammals for accessto the troughs of Kung Pao and Crab Rangoon, the Sweet-and-Sour, the Chicken withString Bean, or Cashew too. Maybe moo shu. Maybe not. But beneath the hot lightsyou will feel your pulse race as you jostle closer to the fresh Beef and Broccoli,elbowing aside children and the elderly, the weaker members of the species, so you canget first grab at the hot stuff. Your pulse races, adrenalin pumping. You may hear afaint mooing, or gurgling rumble just under the sizzle of the Mongolian grill. TheMusak version of ´
W
alking on Sunshineµ leaks from overhead speakers. Some daysyou feel like dancing. Some days you will feel like a plucked vulture hopping aroundsome poor ungulate's processed carcass.
2.
Remain calm. Many feel overwhelmed with emotion during the Buffet experience.Claustrophobia and agoraphobia can be common. Stage-fright too. Panic may washover you. A kind of performance anxiety. Don·t worry if your testicles suck up intoyour diaphragm. Just remember that a happy plate means a happy staff. If youshould (God Forbid!) fail to finish your portions, be prepared for the justified criticalgaze of Buffet employees who communicate clandestinely with each other through
 
elaborate hand signals, winks, and sideways glances. In the back rooms, behind two-way mirrors, they will snicker at your portion of sesame chicken. They will put yourname on a list. They will post your picture. And if things somehow go horribly wrong,and you break the trust of the Buffet you may be charged extra for uneaten portions.
.
One trip to the Buffet is unacceptable. Upon uttering the words, "I'll do the Buffet,"you have tacitly agreed to an unwritten social contract that obligates you to eat morefood at one sitting than you would normally consume in an entire day. This is non-negotiable. This is America. One-trippers are violating the Buffet contract whichrequires you to eat until you are sick and your belly bulges out round and hard like ahoneydew melon. If you have a question about whether you have fulfilled your buffetcontract, chances are you have not. If questions remain, you should thump your bellywith a fork-handle to test. It should make a solid
w
h
op
-
w
h
op
sound and bounce easily.You should also understand that this alone does not constitute a necessary andsufficient condition of contractual compliance. You should also understand thatfailure to comply with the buffet contract³or more brazen efforts to flout the rules³ result not simply in dire consequences for the individual involved but also for ourentire society. One-trippers tear at the very fabric of our union and threaten valuesthat many of us hold dear³things like gluttony, excess, indulgence, and fried stuff.One-trippers are, quite simply, un-American.
.
Thou shalt not purge. You may feel sick, bloated, and dirty after
doing
the Buffet;but you may not vomit. This is unacceptable. At home, you may feel the need topurge and bathe. Relax. This is normal. You are not alone. If you feel you must, goahead and shower with hot water and a harsh soap. But DO NOT PURGE. This isconsidered failure of the worst kind, one of those culturally offensive failures fromwhich you can·t recover easily. Should you commit the sin of vomit, you will bemocked ruthlessly and may be excluded from any future Buffet doing. Do not beafraid. One thing
has
been found to ease the post-buffet pain; but its soothing affectsare somewhat fleeting and temporary. If you make the consonant sound, "Bu, Bu,

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