Well, I can see that this is going to require some explanation. And here's the short version:
As a kid, my family ate at buffets. The Royal Fork was one of my dad's favorites. I can still hear him saying that they named the place after him. R.F. are his initials, and the sign, (do you remember it) was a big blue shield with RF inside it.
He also liked Furr's Cafeteria (where makin' up your mind . . is half the fun! Do you remember the jingles? I've a self-admitted jingle junkie!) I remember those thick pleather seats with the giant padded buttons and how there was only one way in. People lined up like cattle at a trough.
Sometime in my young teen years, when I became painfully aware of my body, I remember beginning to feel troubled about buffets. I still am. Let's just cut to the chase: I despise buffets. I hate, hate, hate buffet dining. I don't like the choices. I don't like how it's all mixed. I don't like how things look sad and wilted and like they have had so many better days. I don't like that so many people pick things up and put them back. The food seems sad in buffets. It's not bright. Or beautiful. I don't like the struggle to control portions. I don't like the gluttony. Insert disclaimer here: I understand that it's good on the pocketbook, especially for large families. I understand that the same things that I detest are actually what draw people to buffets . . . but this isn't about them, this is about me.
There are exceptions. Sort of. I love a good salad bar. I really enjoy Jason's Deli salad bar. And I also love Souper Salad. But I stay away from all the extras and stick to the green stuff. Wait, I'm having an internal epiphany. Perhaps it's the word "buffet" that's my trigger. Shoot, it's a good thing Jason's doesn't have a "salad buffet"; they would likely lose a customer.
Good news: Today was my dad's post-treatment for bladder cancer follow-up appointment. I met him at his urologist's office (this is the guy who is the biggest pompous ass on the planet). Envision monkeys doing cartwheels and tossing confetti here: HE'S CANCER FREE!!!! It's a big relief & I'm sure he feels great. He understood the clear diagnosis well enough to exclaim, "Let's eat at the Asian Buffet."
Oh God, my stomach started to roll. Cause if there's anything worse than regular old American food on a buffet . . . . fries mixed with greens mixed with chicken fried steak and gravy in all sorts, (and how about that guy that stands at the end armed with medieval hardware who points the jabber at you and says "beef or ham?") then it has to be seeing the tiny tentacles of a baby squid floating in some sort of oily muck at an ASIAN buffet.
But, as a testament of my love for him, I went to the Asian buffet. Not only did I go to the Asian buffet, I actually paid, good money, to EAT at the Asian buffet. I paid for myself, my dad, and the driver from resident transport that was with him. Two senior citizens. And me.
My dad . . . well, he felt good enough and was excited enough about the buffet to leave his wheelchair in the transport van. He shuffled in with just his cane. A good sign? I guess. He piled a plate high with all kinds of unidentifiables. Fried rice, some sort of noodle, at least one kind of chicken thing, some sort of beef thing. I took it back to the table for him. While holding on to the buffet bar for support, he spied oysters. And some sort of seafood medley. And the soups. I found some salad. Not that great at an Asian buffet but I'm okay with that. We sat. He ate. And ate. And ate. I munched tiny lines into a big honkin' hunk of honeydew while he slurped oysters and chased them with egg drop soup. He asked me, as he laughed at the same time & offered me an oyster, "did you go vegetarian? He wanted more. I took him up. He gave me orders. "Get a plate." "One peach." "One pear." "One pineapple." And we returned to the table. And he ate. And ate. And ate. And when he was done, he said, "you didn't see any watermelon, did you? I have a taste for watermelon." That made me kind-of chuckle. Sometimes when my dad holds his head just right, I can see my brother. And sometimes, when he's giving me this ONE kind of look, I swear I see a glimpse of Middle.
He asked a lot about Middle. He's following her season. He watched her You Tube video on my phone. He looked at pictures of Mimi's maiden skiing mission. He asks about all of them. He knows and loves them all. And this I know for certain: his appetite has not diminished. If his appetite is the gauge to his overall health, then I do declare, "he's just fine!"
And, because I'm in the habit of taking a snapshot of dad every time I see him . . . . . kind of a cool picture . . . can you see me, reflected in his eyes?