Sunday, July 17, 2011

I See... The Most Exciting Word in the English Language

Excitement is in the mind of the thinker. Nowhere is this more true than the Mormon Third Eye. Of the thousands of words that could be spoken, there may be a few words that motivate and inspire, but there is only one word that excites. One word that sparks dopamine surging through my neural net. I wish it was a lofty, noble or divine term, like faith, charity, or hope. However, the Mormon Third Eye specializes in the truth at all costs, so the truth is that the word is... buffet!

Context is key to understanding why. I was raised in a busy big family. I grew up poor but happy, just like everyone else I knew, or so I thought. One and ½ jobs feeding nine mouths requires rationing of precious resources, including all food in the house- everything from Kool-aid to mashed potatoes. I never remember ever being hungry, but do remember almost always wanting more than the one scoop of ice cream, the one bowl of chili, the one ham sandwich, or the ten grapes that was carefully passed out under the critical eye of Mom the food Nazi. Because I was happy and loved, however, my mind was programmed to believe that this was the way the world was.

There were a few aberrations that didn't make sense- for example, once when Mom and Dad went on a second honeymoon, the ancient aunt I was farmed out to for a few days placed a big cluster of juicy grapes on the kitchen table for lunch. I politely asked her how many grapes I would be allowed to eat; perhaps more than ten, I secretly hoped to myself? I was puzzled, then shocked at her casual reply- “Oh, you can take as many as you like!” I got sick on too many grapes that afternoon. That experience inspired the first inkling of a life without limits.

It wasn't until I left home for mission and college that I discovered the beauty of buffets. Really? All the food I can eat? How can that be? Will they have enough food for me? They are going to lose money on me!” These are the random radical thoughts that ruled my mind. It felt liberating to take as many servings of bacon and teriyaki steak as my heart could imagine. I felt it was my sacred duty as a child raised in rations to continuously consume consumables until I puked. For many years I would plan my life and budget around the next opportunity to wear out my intestines in the noble quest to eat more than I could see. I still remember one memorable summer week in particular when the planets lined up and I attended three separate work, neighborhood, and church picnics where the hamburgers, hot dogs, and potato salad flowed endlessly. Life was better just thinking about buffets. Buffet … buffet... buffet...

It has taken me almost three decades to break the iron grip that buffets had on my psyche. My heart still misses a beat, and my foot slightly but instinctively, involuntarily lifts off the gas pedal for a millisecond when we drive by signs off the shoulder of the freeway advertising a Chinese buffet. I now claim as a personal victory an ability to pass up additional servings of General Tsao's chicken and walk, instead of waddle, away from the buffet table. Besides, with two kids in college, “buffet” has been replaced with a new exciting word- “graduation!”

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