On Slowing Down

brown snail on green leaf

A large platter will hold a surprising amount of vomit. Like, at first you’d think it’s going to automatically spill over the edges, but when you start to factor in the viscosity of the regurgitate, the rotundity of the dish, and the overall surface area, you’d really be surprised at how much puke will fit on a single plate.

It’s like that 8th grade science experiment where you filled the water glass to the very top, and then you filled it up some more. Everything in our lizard brains told us that the water should be spilling over the sides, but then physics kicks in and everything we thought we knew went right out the door.

THE SHED (yes that’s the actual name I swear on my life) wasn’t just an all-you-can-eat buffet. They chose to have all-you-can-eat steak and fried chicken. For $19.95 you could sit in a booth and have a waiter bring you sirloin followed by two thighs followed by your own mix-n-match steak and chicken bucket.

And this wasn’t one of those Brazilian Grill jam-ups either where you turn your meat wand to green and then 20 minutes later a hipster shows up with their cell phone in one hand and a skewer of pineapple-stuffed pork in the other. And then they proceed to shave off a translucent tennis-ball-sized protein.

At THE SHED you signaled to the waiter that you were ready for 4 more pieces of deep fried American hormone-filled poultry and an entire fried chicken magically appeared on your plate.

THE SHED was a Shangri-La of the working class, and heaven on earth for a husky twelve year old.

Modern thinking says that a strip club is where a teenage boy goes to “become a man,” but one cold October evening in 1993 I found my thrill on slop feast hill.

There was a lot more sweat than I anticipated. I’ve run a few 5Ks in my life that were less physically taxing that what I put my body through that night. To this day I respect the Kobayashis and Joey Chestnuts of the world for their ability and sheer willpower, and at the same time I’m almost certain I could have gone leg for leg and steak for steak with any of them.

After five 8oz steaks and nearly a dozen pieces of fried chicken… and I know this is gonna surprise you… I wasn’t feeling too hot. The room started to spin slowly and I expected Billy Bonka to appear at any minute to take me back home to my weird grandparents who share a bed for no reason in particular.

Aside: Billy Bonka was Willy’s estranged brother who left the family confectionary business to raise cattle and hens. Billy never starred in a feature film.

Then I yakked.

Right there at the dinner table. I would have been less surprised if an actual ninja appeared in the center of the table. I had zero clue I was about to make the janitor get out the sawdust bucket.

But there it was. Right there in front of God and everyone. My dad, my uncle, and my cousin had witnessed an exorcism of meat and shame. They had also lost their appetites.

And in case you’re wondering what happens next, or what proper social protocol is in a situation like this, the answer is that you drop a couple $100 bills on the table and get the hell out before anyone realizes what happened.

THE SHED closed down about six months later, and as much as I’d like to take credit, I have a feeling that me tossing my cookies in the middle of the dining hall was less of a factor than the fact they were selling $100 worth of meat for $19.95 plus tax.

So, there you have it. 26 years later and I’m still a glutton. I’ll still overeat and I’ll still binge through a full season of Breaking Bad in a Saturday. I’ll still stay up too late working because “I’m really close to the end of this project”. But I know when to say when. I know when it’s time to slow down.

I have a voice that tells me when it’s time to engage the throttle. And maybe? Maybe I can show my boys how to discover theirs before we rush out of a crowded restaurant $300 in the hole (accounting for inflation).

I’m working on it.

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