Editor’s Note: As a companion piece to my recent paean to the mood swings of a Chinese Buffet experience, here is an older ode exemplifying the writer’s obsessive thoughts concerning a new breakfast option at a local cafeteria-style chain…
1. The fact that Luby’s even serves breakfast.
They didn’t use to do this, not even bothering to open their hallowed yet oddly-oily doors until 11am, so this is an amazing and monumental development in the history of dining out. Luby’s has always had good food, albeit most of the selections are considerably health-negative. (The cooks love things like salt, butter, lard, and a disregard for free-flowing arteries.) So the prospect of the staff taking a crack at breakfast had me salivating profusely from the exact second I noticed the announcement on the sign-board whilst driving past the location down the street. It was 8:30 at night. I seriously considered just parking my car at the door and waiting for daylight.
(Partner, calling me on the phone: “Where the hell are you? There’s a ‘Designing Women’ marathon on OCD TV and we’re almost to the episode where Jean Smart shoves her hand in the vat of French dressing.”
Moi: “Um, why don’t you keep watching and I’ll catch up later. Kinda busy right now.”
Partner: “I think you’re keeping secrets.”
Moi: “Me? You’re the one that didn’t mention the marathon until it had already started. What are you trying to hide?”)
2. It’s cheap.
Luby’s is not known for budget-supportive prices, what with their a la carte concept. If you aren’t careful when going through the line, snapping up everything that looks tasty, you might have to take out a loan when you get to the register. Even if you try to do the right thing, economically speaking, selecting the LuAnn Platter, which saves you a few cents, I’m just not emotionally stable enough to avoid the other temptations. Like dessert. A wedge of carrot cake, though guaranteed to trigger multiple orgasms, will set you back 4 or 5 bucks.
But brace yourselves, fellow Luby’s lovers. The breakfast at Luby’s is only five dollars. That is not a typo. (To be fair, that’s the price here in Dallas. I can’t really speak for other locales, nor do I have any desire to do so.) And before you have recovered from the shock, let me hit you with another wave: It’s all you can eat.
All. You can eat.
I know, right? Why are you still sitting there? Pack up Granny and hit the road.
(Granny: “You better not be taking me to that dang proctologist again. I really don’t care for the man.”
Me: “No, Granny Mae, this mornin’ we’re just gonna get somethin’ to eat. But this afternoon? You might have some obstructions that need tendin’ to.”
Granny, nodding wisely: “Fair enough. I’m at that age where garbage in don’t always mean garbage out, mmm hmm.”)
3. On the down side, “All You Can Eat” can lead to poor planning and biological discomfort.
As mentioned, I’m still used to careful selections when working through the serving line at Luby’s, because everything costs and I have bills to pay. So when presented with the option of taking whatever I want, I went a little crazy, asking for a bit of everything. When my plate was finally passed down to the last sever and it was time to transfer ownership of said plate to me, a representative from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration had to step in and weigh the thing before Missy Faye could hoist the grease-dripping mess in my direction. In the end, they just used an overheard crane to swing the groaning porcelain platter toward a foundationally-sound area of the restaurant, at which point I had to sign a waiver before I could proceed any further.
As I waited in line to pay, I realized that I had four different biscuit-based items on my tray. (The most enticing of these? Honey-laced chicken strips on a butter biscuit. Couldn’t you just die!) I had enough carbs in my possession to power me through not only the Boston Marathon but the first six months of next year. If I dared to eat all that mess, then I deserved to have internal organs rupture in an act of defiance and self-preservation.
(My Liver: “Well, I do declare. That boy never learns nothin’. He’s already drenchin’ me ever night with that demon hooch, regular as summer squalls in Alabama. Now he wants to shove in some saltlicks and bricks of lard? I gotta get me a better union rep, sure do.”)
4. The cashier is not yet used to this “one price” thing, either.
As she was announcing my total, Melvinetta, or whatever her name was, actually said to me: “That’s the same amount that I’ve been ringing up all morning!” (Then she grinned maniacally at this perceived happenstance in the cosmos.) Um, everyone is going to have the same amount because it’s the same price. Do you not realize that you’re punching the same button on your little register every time? Poor thing. I hope she really likes working at Luby’s because she’s apparently already clutching the highest star she can reach.
(Manager: “Melvinetta, honey, maybe you shouldn’t talk so much. Just smile pretty and punch the buttons.”
Melvinetta: “But I like talkin’ to folks I just met. It makes me feel special and all.”
Manager: “Well, maybe so, but isn’t that how you ended up with four of them seven kids a yours?”)
5. The table attendants have a new lease on life.
These people no longer have the boring task of simply inquiring on the fullness level of your tea glass. They are now responsible for running to retrieve any additional food selections you may require during your consumption extravaganza. That’s right, you don’t even have to drag your ass out of your chair if you want to nosh a bit more. Just ask and ye shall receive. Good deal, right?
Sort of. You have to be very selective in choosing your table. You want to be in the serving radius of a well-balanced and professional attendant, one who will keep an eye on you without being intrusive. You don’t want one of those hyperactive, greedy attendants hell-bent on asking if you need anything every five seconds, thinking that every little plate they bring you will automatically increase their tip. “Look, Benedryllia, I’m still chewing on the bite of pancakes that you watched me put in my mouth the last time you checked on my hash brown requirements. Please go away, as I can’t fully enjoy my meal with your nose so far up my ass. Said with love.”
(Benedryllia: “I don’t understand why you gotta be so rude. I’m just tryin’ to make a livin’, like anybody.”
Me: “Did you really think that through when you signed the job application to work in this place? It’s not like they have a 401k or anything.”
Benedryllia: “But they do. I get an extra share of stock for every hash brown I put on your table.”
Me: “Really? Hmm. My retirement budget is kind of tight. Are there any jobs available here?”
Benedryllia: “Not now, after you made fun of poor Melvinetta. She’s tight with the manager. That explains her other three kids, doncha know.”)
6. Cream gravy tastes good on everything.
(The Cream Gravy: “Don’t you want me, baby?”
Me: “Yes. Yes, I do. I was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar, when I first met you.”)
7. It IS possible to slip into, and out of, a grease-induced coma several times in a row without lasting physical damage.
I proved that this morning. I lost all sense of humanity at one point, grunting out territorial warnings as I used my tongue to slurp up every iota of lingering fat on my plate, unashamed and proud of my conquest.
(The ER Doctor: “He smells like more radioactive fallout from that Luby’s mess.”
Attending Nurse: “Now, now, don’t be mean. It’s hard to resist a honey-biscuit.”
The ER Doctor: “Oh, so you know Melvinetta, too?”)
8. Cheaper does mean a ruder customer base.
Prepare yourself for this angle. When prices hit rock-bottom, transforming Luby’s from the realm of senior citizens with nothing else to do and folks who will eat chicken-fried anything into a free-for-all of discounts and gluttony, you are going to encounter some shadier elements of society.
Of course, it’s not like gangs are driving motorcycles around the condiment bar while hookers strut their wares near the extra silverware, but be aware that there are certain sinister tables that you should probably avoid. Unless, of course, you find it refreshing to be part of a drug deal at 9:30 in the morning. I understand that we all have our own interests.
(Biker-Gang Member, with five teardrop tattoos on his face: “Is he talkin’ ‘bout us?”
Gang Member Girlfriend, with only one and a half teardrops, as the gun misfired at a critical moment, resulting in mere paralysis and not job-completion: “Who talkin’, baby?”
Biker-Gang Member: “That narrator guy. He smells like hash browns and I don’t trust him.”
Gang Member Girlfriend: “Oh, him. He ain’t nuthin’. I worked with him at a cocktail bar once, and he ain’t got the gumption to straddle a hog like you do. Just eat your Melvinetta biscuit and try to relax.”)
9. The really-old people are still around, despite the demographic change.
They are always there. It’s a cult.
(Really-Old Person: “Sonny, you’re gonna be sittin’ at my table before you realize it. Ain’t no need to get uppity ‘bout the fact you can still shift gears in your pickup without leakin’ a little bit. It all comes back around, and ‘fore you know it, all you got is memories and hope and a photo album that smells like used-ta-be.”)
10. It’s difficult to remember your name once you’ve eaten enough bacon.
Likewise, an extremely full belly can lead to other complications in public places, like confusion about where the exit might be, where your car might be, how many people were originally in your party, whether or not you still love any of them, and an inability to recall the exact functioning of all those pedals and levers and warning lights on a standard automobile. Be sure to carry proper identification, proof of insurance, a list of possible reactionary medications, and a formal letter of pardon from the last time you lost your mind in a place that has unlimited cream gravy…
(Melvinetta: “We all pay the same price in the end, no matter what you get!”
Me: “And I’m doing my best to remember that, even if I don’t fully understand it until I’m at the final table…”)
Previously published, considerable changes made for this new post. Fair disclaimer: I rarely go to my local Luby’s for breakfast anymore. Suffice it to say that there was an incident of which I’m not proud. Honey-biscuits were not involved, but they should have been…
The Decadent Wedge of Carrot Cake: “Don’t hate me because I’m so alluring.”
The Tater Tots: “But we all are, in our own ways, so get over yourself. Everything on the Life Menu is there for a reason, and you should never turn your nose up at something you haven’t experienced. The sooner we understand that, the better we’ll all be…