Giovanni’s Buffet Mirror

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“Buffet Lunch: All You Can Eat” says the sign.

I decide to try it. “Eight dollars with soda; $7 with water,” says the woman at the counter.

Sugar makes me fat and frantic. I choose the water.

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The buffet is loaded. Full salad bar. Spaghetti with meatballs and your choice of meat or meatless marinara sauce. Garlic toast. And four kinds of pizza – fattening … and more fattening.

I pass up the salad bar and load up on spaghetti with meatballs, meat sauce, and, of course, garlic toast. I love garlic toast.

Since I’m alone, there’s plenty of time to look around while I eat. You’re not supposed to stare at people, so I don’t. I’m careful not to stare. But I can’t help but look. There’s no one to talk with. My dog’s outside in the car. So is my MacBook Air. There are no distractions. So my eyes scan the room for something of interest.

Eventually I realize a common characteristic to the buffet diners — obesity. I think of Richard Simmons, Oprah, and Michelle Obama, and their attempts to get people to eat better and less.

I fill up my plate with a second helping of spaghetti, and add two slices of pizza. It’s good. Really good! All that gooey cheese, and a great crust — just like the pizza I’d had as a child at Fonzo’s Pizzeria in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. But this isn’t Philadelphia and this isn’t the 1950s. I’m at Giovanni’s Pizza in Staples, Minnesota almost a year after Michelle’s White House school obesity initiative went the way of all flesh.

“They’re all fat!” I think to myself. I take another sip of water before getting up to pay my bill.

Next to the cash register is somebody’s idea of a joke: a full-length mirror. I see an ugly guy with a belly staring back at me and think I hear a voice scream: “You’re fat too!”

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I pay the $7 with tip, swallow hard, and begin to digest an old biblical teaching:

“Before you criticize the pounds on others, first remove the ton from your own abdomen.”

  • Gordon C. Stewart, November 3, 2017.