America at Lunch


I’d like to think that when strangers see me approaching, the first thing that pops into their heads isn’t “Holy cow, that guy is fat…Anyone count his children lately?…Keep your hands and feet away from his mouth.” (I already know what people who know me think when they see me coming: “Yay! It’s Rich! He may be the most amazing person I know. What a treat.” Or words to that effect). Granted, I’m a big guy, but there’s no billowing fat descending slowly to the floor like cooling lava flows, and what is wont to accumulate I manage to keep mostly sucked in whilst out in public.

My wife, son, daughter and I went to a local buffet for lunch recently. I won’t say the name, but its exact opposite would be called “Sour NotTomatoes.” Two women, along with two little girls, went in just ahead of us; the women were clearly sisters, and quite possibly twins. Now I am not one to speak poorly of others (those who follow can back me up here…Oh, shut up.), but here I simply must comment: to call the women immense would only serve to belittle the meaning of the word; a red flag should, by law, poke from each of their back pockets and a steady beeping sound accompany every backward motion. Each Sumo-like step either took produced a rippling effect across their bodies, like a pebble tossed into a still pond (of, in this particular case, cottage cheese or tapioca pudding). I once read that Lake Tahoe, if drained, would cover the entire state of California in one foot of water; this claim could be tested very quickly if both were to jump in simultaneously. If they were indeed twins, it was strange to see them out and about; I thought both had been felled on 9/11.  If either had…oh, whatever; you get the picture: I am not kind, and these women were big. The two little girls, contrastively, were quite thin; obviously, they were being starved, as almost all the available food in their home was instantly sucked into the collective vortices of these two truly gargantuan beasts. This explained the joyful exuberance the two little ones exhibited just inside the doors; here, at last, was a chance to finally eat.

The dining experience at this particular feeding trough begins with two very long rows of sneeze-guarded, identical and ostensibly healthy food choices: salads, vegetables and the like. Customers can choose which row to stand in, the choice inevitably based upon potential wait time. I very cleverly chose the line opposite the two tray-wielding pachyderms, because it would likely move quicker and there might actually be some food left. (I was right). Still, I could not pull my eyes away from them as they loaded their plates. By the time they had reached the cashier, their dishes were piled with the most precariously loaded Matterhorns of every salad offering imaginable. A man clad in climbing gear and snow goggles might easily have been seen standing atop any of them, ready to stab the flag of his country into the offending mass.

These two were the poster children for the American predilection for dietary excess, but they certainly weren’t the only ones. Obesity was at virtually every table and food station, though in contrast to the twin cities, the rest had managed so far to limit their use of available space to a single zip code. Fatties outnumbered normal, healthy individuals by perhaps a ratio of four to one; I found myself watching in entranced horror at the never silent, often violent consumption of mountains of food at tables all around me.

The sight really took me off my food; after only a plate of salad, one bowl of potato soup, a bowl of chili and crackers, two pieces of pizza, a plate of macaroni and cheese, one more bowl of soup, another piece of pizza and a bowl of vanilla soft-serve covered with chocolate syrup and peanuts, I was done. I was barely able to get my money’s worth, much less that of my wife and daughter, who ate like a pair of Auschwitz sparrows. I haven’t really decided if I’ll ever go back; I almost think that a light, sateless lunch is hardly worth the disgust I feel in watching the gluttony that has become America at lunch.

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About Thestrugglershandbook

I'm a middle aged (if I live to be 100) guy, married, father of three, from Tucson, AZ. I'll write about almost anything. Though somewhat bent, what I write is always true(ish). It won't change your life, however. Unless that would preclude you from reading...
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15 Responses to America at Lunch

  1. mybrightlife says:

    One of the things that shocked us when we spent a year in the States back in the ’80s was the size of the American people. 30 years later and South Africa is pushing higher and higher up the stats ladder towards most obese nation in the world. Seems as if ‘with freedom comes fat!’

  2. societyred says:

    As usual, hilarious! These particular words are like a combination of a Rodney Dangerfield and Dennis Miller act. In a week I will be in Vegas for a family reunion. The family will think I’m losing my marbles as I laugh uncontrollably and without apparent reason while waiting in the “non-VIP” cattle queue…

    • “Cattle queue.” I like it; wish I’d thought of it (I’ll steal it later on down the road). Have fun at the reunion! The cheap food in Vegas used to be a big draw for me; they seem to have raised the prices to get rid of the riff-raff, and foolishly lost me for having done so. Hey. Wait a minute…

  3. USA is not the only country with obesity problems but it is way up there! We in South Africa are moving fast to the fast food and buffet feeding stations. A good article-thanks and keep writing without fear!

  4. Kate says:

    I avoid those types of restaurants like the plague—it just depresses me to know end to folks like that load up on all that food. The U.S. is such a mixed-message nation: “Be Fit! Run Marathons! But first tank up here at our All You Can Eat Buffet!” Sad, sad state of affairs.

  5. onestreetshy says:

    I knew a guy who moved to the states last year and my only advice to him was, “don’t eat like an American or you’ll get fat.” He didn’t listen, ate teriyaki daily – along with mocha’s from Starbucks to wash it down. Let’s just say, the last time I saw him, I could’ve used his spare tire on my Volkswagen.

    • You know, you can probably eat like an American as long as you don’t exercise like one (some Americans may protest, but they’re the skinny few). I like teriyaki and mochas too; between the two of us, we’ve got a whole axle covered. Thanks for visiting!

  6. I’ve observed similar phenomena at buffett restaurants. Quite appalling and fortunately, when you tell it, really funny.

  7. simphonyblue says:

    🙂 🙂 very funny! and yes I do complain for those 3 (i found out it’s 3) kilos of gain…cause my size of clothing is very limited- meaning…if I gain 1 kilo..dresses might not fit me anymore!!!! so 3 kilos is a Red Button alert!!! Because of all this movement house thing…I kind of ate what I had in the fridge..whenever I had time.. so yes -that’s one of my -not to do-rules.. [ yes yes! I also cheated with some sweets… 😦 ]

    I kind of saw different parts of USA and I can say that the south is not very.. obese/fat, I think it has to do with weather too ; when you can go everyday to the beach..you kind of want to look good everyday; instead the north part.. ufff – I’ve seen people so fat that they couldn’t walk- literally. They had to use this special chair that they were driving-on the streets,in shops, and so on…

    I don’t judge people..I judge myself, mostly from this point of view.. but maybe it’s a bit wrong to go to these buffets or whatever other junk food restaurants..and eat exactly what you should not.. I mean..a salad would be okay (for a lady).. at least people around will not think- ‘oh jezzzz,look at her!!! she’s 150 kilos and still eats pizza,and fries…and other fatty things -she deserves it’…cause they surely think that… And than you see that girl at Oprah..complaining she can’t get a job, she has a heart disease..she is single..blah blah…

    It’s a thin world we aim to live in – but we produce unhealthy food… I didn’t decide the standard of beauty .. but others who thought skinny looks good did…
    I think normal is okay (normal= having a little extra,here and there..for the winter you know) ,and as long as your health is not at risk, it’s okay to eat what you please. But obese is still obese,and that’s a risk for the life of many in the world…

    NEVER EASY with food for those who LOVE it toooooooooo much!!!!

    • I suppose it’s a bigger deal when you’re petite. (I’m not). A little extra, here and there for the winter; I like that! Apparently I’ve been storing up for years for the bad winter that never came. There seems to be a trend towards passing off accountability for being overweight. I never considered it might be someone else’s fault if I get fat, but I’m definitely gonna look into it.

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