The Corona Chronology: Day 36

During the current lockdown/shelter-in-place/do-the-right-thing stasis in our lives, one of the things I do miss is heading out to a local restaurant, where somebody else makes the food and cleans the dishes, and all I have to do is shove things in my mouth. On the flip side, some dining emporiums are not all that great. I yanked this example out of the archives, wherein I reflect on a chewing spree at “The Bamboo Palace”, a pleasant moniker that doesn’t adequately capture the mayhem within. Enjoy.


10 Things I Learned at the Chinese Buffet Today


1. There’s nothing like “all you can eat” to bring in an interesting crowd.

Wow, some of these people have no shame. Would it have killed you to actually brush your hair? Or at least pluck the rolling paper out of that rat’s nest? And, while I can understand you wearing sweat pants up in here so you can remain comfortable while your belly size doubles, could you at least tie the drawstring so it’s not so obvious that you’ve had an appendectomy? And I realize this is pushing it, but could you change your shirt? You’ve still got duck sauce on it from the last time you were here. This morning.

Yes, I know that you really don’t care, because you don’t know me and you will never see me again. But the image of your butt-crack next to the Kung Pao Chicken will be with me forever, and that’s not really fair, is it?

2. The hostess is not impressed with the “party of one” concept at an establishment designed for high-traffic.

“Just one?” she queries, glaring at me with complete suspicion. When I confirm, she studies her table-assignment chart, desperate for some clue on how to handle me not bringing relatives or friends and thereby potentially impacting the revenue flow. She finally sighs, glumly asks me to follow her, and leads me to the furthest point in the building, a rarely-used, ignored-by-servers corner where she had to blow dust off the table and throw away the soy sauce that had turned into molasses. Later, whilst enjoying my egg drop soup, I discovered Jimmy Hoffa under the table. (He made me sign a non-disclosure agreement, but I used a fake name, so it’s not legally binding.)

3. The plates are tiny.

Again, I understand what’s going on here. The plates are small so you can’t take as much. Got it. But do you not understand the psychological damage caused by this reprehensible design flaw? It means I have to make return trips to the buffet if I have any hope of getting enough protein to build up the strength I need to sign my credit card bill, should I live long enough to do so. Give me a plate that’s bigger than a hubcap on Barbie’s Malibu Camper. Besides…

4. The tiny plates do not stop the woolly beasts intent on taking full advantage of the free-for-all in the buffet line.

These Neanderthals (and you know who I’m talking about) will fill plate after plate before they even start eating. (I’m surprised that they can wait that long, pigs that they are, but I digress.) Back and forth from buffet to table, meaning that said table is eventually covered with 37 plates piled high with food. You can’t even see the people anymore, hidden as they are behind mounds of Mu Shu Pork. But you can hear them, smacking and grunting like Donald Trump when he accesses his Twitter account.

They will never be able to eat all of this, even though, based on their appearance, they have certainly tried to do so in the past. Most of it will just be thrown in the trash. Get ONE plate at a time, you mal-functioning twitrod. And if they run out of my favorite dish because you’re being an ass and using a forklift instead of a ladle, I will march right over there and challenge you to a dancing “West Side Story” rumble that will end all dancing rumbles. But speaking of favorites…

5. My current favorite dish on this particular buffet is Egg Foo Yung. I’m in love.

I don’t know what it is at this restaurant, but somebody in that kitchen knows what they’re doing when it comes to Egg Foo Yung. For the uninitiated, it’s an omelet of sorts, crammed with veggies and onions and who knows what. Then you top it off with a brown sauce that probably has enough fat grams in it to shut down my circulatory system with one bite. Oh. My. God. I have an unholy infatuation. It’s not unheard of for me to knock the slow-ass hostess aside and race to this station before she even shows me my decaying “table for one” in the Hoffa quadrant.

 6. Some people navigate buffet lines like they drive on roads.

Why are you stopping right in the middle of everything, blocking my access to the dish just on the other side of you? WHY? I realize that there are a lot of choices, and the sensory overload can make you palpitate a little bit, but that’s not my issue. It is imperative that I get to the Black Pepper Shrimp before Thunderina and her inbred cousins beat me to it. You must understand this, as nations could fail if you don’t. Pull over to the shoulder and let me pass.

And this business of going the wrong way in the line? Oh, no you didn’t. When it’s slow up in here, you can approach the stations from whatever direction you want, and no one blinks an eye. But when it’s busy, like now, there’s a protocol. You gauge the general flow, and you get at the end of the line. This is now a one-way street. Don’t come charging up from the wrong direction and then glare at the rest of us like we have somehow violated your Second Amendment rights. We will rise!

7. People are just stupid.

So I’m sitting there, munching on the delicacies arranged on my plate with loving devotion, glancing around furtively like a dog with a bone, because I know the woolly beasts will snatch up any food that isn’t locked down, when I hear a couple near me ask their server for the manager. Oh? This could be fun.

When Mr. Whoever finally comes trotting out of the back office after hiding his nearly-depleted bottle of vodka, this couple, especially the man, who has seen a few buffets in his life but not a lot of formal education, actually complains that there was broccoli in one of the dishes. Complains! Totally offended that it was there. Holy cow. Did you not see the broccoli when you were scooping buckets of it onto one of your many plates? It’s not hard to identify broccoli. It’s not one of those deceptive things that can hide easily, like bits of jalapeno or Rudy Giuliani’s soul.

The manager, flummoxed, points out that there are quite a few options available without broccoli. (Uh, yeah, Complaining Dude. There’s 400 things over there without any green color. You know, that color that might mean broccoli, and you shouldn’t get it if you don’t like broccoli or anything the color of broccoli?) The couple demands their money back. Okay, A, they haven’t paid yet, so shut up, and B, screw you and your stupidity. The manager tells them they will still have to pay, and marches away. The couple’s timid little server then races up, and she is instantly berated because there are too many ice cubes in their drinks.

Jesus H.

8. There’s something really wrong with the bathrooms.

Okay, I’ve noticed it before about this place, so it doesn’t actually startle me, but it does make me ponder. There’s graffiti on the wall above the urinals. Graffiti. Seriously? What kind of hoodlums would go to a Chinese restaurant, in non-crime-infested, fairly affluent Cedar Hill, Texas, and spray paint a gang tag in the john? Are you telling me you searched this place out on purpose? (What, did you hear about the Egg Foo Yung?)

And to top it off, some of the wall art has been there for years. Management does nothing about it. The main part of the restaurant is pristine, you can eat off the floor while chaste and complacent servers satisfy your every need, but if you gotta take a leak you’re walking on the wild side. Apparently, it gets real in that bathroom, where you better wear the right gang colors or you’ll never make it back to the sushi that is botulizing on your neglected tiny hubcap.

9. What’s up with the soft-serve ice cream?

I don’t think such a thing is Chinese, or even Asian in general (I may be wrong), but there’s a mega soft-serve ice cream machine off to one side, unfortunately located in the loser zone where parties of one are seated. I don’t know what ingredients are in that mess, never tried it, but something in there has an amazing effect on children. They can smell the chemicals the very second they walk in the door. Next thing you know, the little urchins are clawing and belting one another in the face with Hello Kitty backpacks, vying to be the first in line to receive the sugary goodness.

And the parents? They don’t care. There can be bloodshed and dismemberment, but Mommy and Daddy calmly keep munching on Lemon Pepper Beef while their offspring savagely rip each other apart just to fill their waffle cone.

10. I don’t understand the obsession with the complimentary fortune cookie at the end.

I don’t want one. Those things are bland and non-appealing. And they contain cheerfully-intentioned slogans that actually make you feel worse. “You will find true friends in next year. Yay!” Like I don’t have any right now? Thanks for that.

But the servers in this place insist that you enjoy your cookie. I can take the cookie off the little plastic bill presentation tray and toss it aside without any separation anxiety whatsoever. Within seconds, the server has retrieved the discardment and is proffering it again. I don’t want the damn cookie. I will gladly tip you 50% if you will just forget about the cookie.

Nope. They follow me to the door. Cookie for sir?


I reluctantly take the stupid thing with me, and then I throw it in the glove box of my car where there’s about a hundred of them, years of neglected detritus.

Cookie #23: “Well, there’s another one.”

Cookie #31: “Haven’t we suffered enough?”

Cookie #42: “He’s kind of cute, though. And he smells like Egg Foo Yung. Reminds me of home…”


Previously published. Slight changes made for this post. I probably should have changed more, as this is not one of my better efforts, but it’s 1:23am.

Story behind the photo: A bit of nosh from BBBop in Oak Cliff, Texas. Granted, it’s Korean food and not Chinese, which paints me as culturally insensitive, but it’s now 1:26am and I’m just trying to get the hell out of here.

Wait, not yet. Quick survey: Dear Reader, have we grown bored and unsatisfied with my continued usage of “Corona Chronology” to headline these posts, or are we still good? Just wondering. After all, I’m here to serve you and I just want you to be happy. Unless you get in my way at the buffet. Then we might need to talk. In the gang-tagged bathroom, where a dance fight might break out. (“The Jets are gonna rumble tonight!”)


36 replies »

  1. Yeah,I’m good with the title, until perhaps that happy day when you can title it ‘He’s got it! Cross fingers everyone… Oh, and pray… Thoughts and Prayers really work in these situations. A lot of people say so.”

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Jimmy Hoffa under the table? I’m clearly going to the wrong buffets. At least I brush my hair and put proper clothes on. But I get a weird look anywhere when ordering just for one, as though a lone woman can’t have a drink by herself or stuff her face with a buffet on her own. Maybe we should tell them our limo driver is waiting out front and we’ll take a doggy bag for him later. I’ve only ever been to one place with fortune cookies, and I was stupidly excited about it.
    Thanks for the giggles! 😂 Now we know your secret scent is eau de egg foo yung it makes us all feel like we know you a little better!
    Caz x

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’ve never understood this whole concept of folks not grasping the fact that some people are perfectly fine doing things on their own. I used to go to the movie theaters, all by my lonesome self, and the ticket-taker would be all “Is it just you? Do we need to wait for somebody to join you?” Um, no. I’m fine. I think you’re the one with the issue.

      And I love it when people get to know me better. We’re all in this together. Let’s embrace it and do the best that we can…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Allow me to add two observations.
    1. The person who removes all the shrimp from the Kung Pao shrimp so the rest of us are left with onions and peppers. Nice move moron.
    2. The people who order a Diet Coke to accompany their 37 full plates. Yes, that will help.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Biting down on her tablet? Oh my. I mean, I understand the inclination to do so, especially when I encounter a “Candy Crush” level that is truly daunting, but surely she can find nourishment that won’t possibly electrocute her…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Sven (through his agent…when did he get an agent??) keeps demanding that his name be added to the title of my corona thingy, but once we have a title, we keep it. Continuity of titles is one of the few things holding our lives together. A
    That and tape…lots of tape.

    My Younger Daughter is currently mourning the permanent closure of Souplantation, another corona victim.

    Perfect egg foo yung is like toilet paper, a treasure that is impossible to find.

    Liked by 1 person

    • 1. Never give in to the demands of household pets seeking Internet glory. It just doesn’t work out well.

      2. Souplantation? I’ve never heard of this, but the allure of the name has me mourning with her.

      3. You are wise, indeed. Not that I ever doubted such.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Despite WordPress sh*tting the bed with regard to my ability to comment or interact today, I wanted to vote ‘Yea” for the continued usage of your Corona tag line. It’s just fine in my opinion. I will come tomorrow (after hopefully WordPress stops crapping) and finish my comment on your fine post and its tasty array of selections.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m also experiencing the deluge of WordPress malfunctions today. What kind of fools do they have watching the barn? It’s not that hard. Design software that works. End of sentence.

      But I do look forward to your finished comment, as always.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Continued use of title: check. 🙂 However, what IS in that bowl? It looks like salad with ice cream and hot sauce. But then again, I’m looking at the photo via the tiny screen of my phone.
    I am not a buffet fan. Many years ago I got a hospital-worthy case of e-coli from a buffet and thought I was going to die. I wanted to die. Dying seemed like a good solution. I’ve never been able to look a buffet in the face since.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, the ice cream is actually a fried egg. As for the rest of the contents, I’m not really sure, although I’m fairly certain the meat was beef. This was my first trip to said establishment, and I went with a friend of ours from NYC. She insisted on ordering “off the menu”, so who knows what I introduced to my body. Since then, I have only ordered things which had a clear description on the menu. It’s all been very good.

      But speaking of unknown introductions to the body, I understand your past experiences and concerns about buffet arrangements. But I’m a glutton at heart, so I take the risks….

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I cherish this, and realize that it will become a cult piece in the near future when food bars and buffets are just a memory. I spoke with an employee of our premier dining establishment (Eat N Park) and was told that when that place of ill repute reopens it will be without food bar. I, shocked and dismayed, queried as to why and was told there is a move in our wild and wonderful state to outlaw public buffets. Can you imagine what such an action would do for CC 36 of Bonnywood fame? It would be more valuable than Les femmes d’Alger…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, be still my heart. Picasso references AND a woeful dismay that trudging through buffet lines may cease?

      You complete me.

      On the flip side, this is America, currently-crazy and jacked up as it is, and I choose to place my trust in the hope that enterprising people of some sort will figure out a way for those of us who love a smorgasbord to continue our lusty affair with multiple and plentiful edibles.

      Some may say I’m a dreamer. But I’m not the only overfed one…

      Liked by 2 people

  8. In Denver there was a Chinese buffet owned by a Vietnamese family, meaning you got Chinese AND Vietnamese food — the holy grail of glorious food! Sadly, we do not live in Colorado anymore.
    In Phoenix, there was a Chinese buffet that also had a Sushi bar, with the chef right there assembling everything fresh. Oh. My. God. Sadly, we do not live in Phoenix anymore.
    In Minnesota…. well, we’re sure there’s something but we’ve yet to uncover it and now with the virus… well, crap.

    My vote on Corona-chronology: YES! keep em comin’!

    Regarding King Ben’s Grandma’s comment above: Souplantation is Sweet Tomatoes in some areas. Do you have those in Texas? I liked them fine, but they seemed pricey for what they were. Without a coupon, I always felt bamboozled.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You know, this comment provides great fodder for a sequel to the Dave Loggins ditty “Please Come to Boston”. Maybe that’s just me. But I bet if you packaged the deal in just the right way, you could eventually win a Grammy for Songwriter of the Year. I’d certainly vote for you, assuming I somehow gain voting rights before the awards ceremony.

      We DO have Sweet Tomatoes around here. But I’ve never been in one. Something about that name made me keep driving. I mean, I love tomatoes (simply sliced, sprinkled with salt and/or some racy pepper) but, no…

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.