Coffee: Golden Corral Drip; it came in a plastic cup and when I asked for a refill she didn’t bring anything to pour over, she just brought me a second, so I had two cups, two coffees, oil-thin, poured from a machine; I didn’t know what to do with myself; sometimes life’s just like that, confusing you with good fortunes, like ‘what did I do to get here?’; today was good; both coffees tasted the same, loose and sweaty, burnt breadcrumbs
Happy Thanksgiving. I mean it, you know. I’m thankful.
My family and I took our holiday lunch at Golden Corral. For the past five years we’ve been eating out at this buffet in Greensboro, hosted in a Hyatt, but when we called for reservations they weren’t celebrating this year. Last minute plans limited our options and we settled on something simple – Golden Corral. A few years ago, the building in Burlington burned down but they built it back up. I have clearer memories of the old place, but today was a good day of patching them over with something new.
All week I’ve been telling people where we’re going. There’s an expectation that families will cook for Thanksgiving, but I like our years of going out. I like it because it takes the load off all of us – no stress, no cooking, no dishes; and I like it because it lets me see how other people are celebrating, which is a warm thing, knowing people when they’re engaged in something special.
Here’s what I saw:
The booths were packed families with overcrowded plates; husbands and wives, not just couples, though there were some of them too; lots of old white men in camo hats and shirts to match, though the shirts were tucked in trousers pulled up over their bellies, just the way their father taught them, a kind of Southern formal, sunshine-proper; pregnancy; there were three women who were close to term; and kids on the other end of it, young and young and younger, either plating around on their own or following fathers with bowls of bright ice-cream, delicious; I saw the waiters working overtime; a manager made small-talk with the sous chef who was fixing beef stroganofff in the back; one guy says ‘I’ll take that steak medium rare.’
Take any two or three of these people out of this picture and plop them down in the everyday and I’d wager they wouldn’t get along. But here, on Thanksgiving, everything is perfect, or close enough to it to enjoy the commotion of being in this space together. Golden Corral cooks food of all flavors of Americana, and does so in such quantity that no one dish comes out quite right. But that imperfection is part of what you’re looking for. You don’t want it to be perfect. You don’t want it to be sublime. You’re looking for something so easy it means you don’t have to interrogate yourself, or make too many judgments about your neighbor. Who cares what tastes we come with when all the food tastes the same? It’s beautiful, and I wouldn’t have had my holiday any other way.
Currently Reading: Another Country, James Baldwin
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I really feel like I’m in America.William Livesay (my father), while we were waiting in line at Golden Corral on Thanksgiving 2019