--“Chinese food in Scranton” is one discouraging (not to mention scary) phrase.Our current base of operations has plenty to offer when it
comes to restaurants, especially if you like Italian or Polish, but
one doesn’t usually associate northeastern
with Asian cooking.Ya know?It’s almost as frightening a concept as, say, “Chinese food
in Charleston, WV.”
Shit, I just had a full-body
Defiant and ignorant, however, we were determined from day one to find
a decent place for cashew chicken and egg rolls and whatnot.And it turned out to be a harrowing adventure.
We visited many restaurants, and the gloop-factor was almost always
high.And the chicken was
usually slimy and the color of pewter.And the idea that what you’re eating was very likely on
somebody else’s plate earlier in the day, or catching a Frisbee in
its mouth at the park on Tuesday, was constantly in the back of your
As crazy as it sounds, we found that a local grocery store, Wegman’s,
served up the best Chinese food around.They have a buffet table, charge by the ounce, and have real
Chinese-speaking Chinese people doing the Chinese cooking like
they’re in China.Good stuff.
It’s shockingly expensive, though.You
think:food off a hot bar in the
corner of a grocery store… that’s gotta be dirt-cheap, right?Wrong.The four of us
can run up a tab of forty dollars eating that stuff, just normal
portions.It’s tasty and
everything, but holy crapballs.What
am I, Bill Oates?
Then one day we wandered into a place not far from Wegman’s, that
offered an all-you-can-eat buffet.None
of that by-the-ounce stuff, this was a genuine buffet where you pay
one price and just go.
And man, the kids loved it.Especially
the older one.I’m not
exaggerating, he’d eat lunch and dinner there every day for the rest
of his life if we’d let him.I
was never that sold on it, it was OK.But
the boys couldn’t get enough and the price was right, so we went
Over time though, the place became more and more crowded.Word was getting around.In
the early days it might just be us and another party or two for lunch.But it eventually got to the point where there was no guarantee
they’d have a table available.Our
little secret was out.
And we began to notice that the clientele was starting to skew a tad,
shall we say... white trash?There
seemed to be an inordinate number of buzzcut children running around,
and big muumuu-wearing mommas hollering at them from across the room:“JOEY!JOEY!! STOP PUTTING SHAVED PORK DOWN YOUR SISTER’S UNDERWEAR!JOEY!!”
We sat and watched as scary-ass men wearing stained wife-beaters and
scar tissue piled their plates so high they became teetering columns of food.Disgusting
sows were just shoveling it in and continuing to talk about venison
and auto parts, or whatever, and sending partially-chewed food flying
in every direction.There was
plenty of screaming and noise, and cell phones that play the opening
riff of “Whole Lotta Love” when they ring...
Then the inevitable happened.We
went there on the weekend before Labor Day, and there was a sign by
the cash register, written in labored English, announcing that the
buffet is being discontinued, effective September 4.
Grrrr…As usual, the dumbasses have ruined it for everyone.They can’t just go there and have lunch like normal human
beings.No, they’ve got to
turn it into some kind of wild hillbilly jamboree and shrimp-eating
contest.Just a touch
of decorum and civility is all that’s expected.Is that too much to ask?Apparently
I tried to talk to the cashier about it.I said something like, “Is the buffet going away because of
all the gluttonous shit-kicking hicks?”And she smiled and said, "Sometimes but not always!Usually on Wednesday.”
Out of a sense of duty, we returned this past weekend.And it was a sad thing to behold.The buffet table was gone, and the restaurant was empty again.It was literally just the four of us, and another party in a
booth by the front window.At
the height of what should’ve been the lunch rush...
We ordered off the menu, since we had no choice, and the food was
especially good, I thought.While
we were there, at least ten groups of people walked through the front
doors, saw the missing buffet, turned around and left.A couple of the more sophisticated students of Asian cuisine
yelled, “Fuck that!” as they returned to their rusted-out vehicles.
Near the end of the meal, after the fortune cookies had already been
delivered, I looked up and saw an old lady with her face pressed
against the glass at the front of the restaurant.She was shading her eyes with her hands, and her nose and lips
were mashed-flat against the window.She
was wearing an expression of complete horror at the sight of the
missing buffet, and mouthing the words “OHHH
Then she and her husband, a man who looked like Nosferatu, returned to
their cars and left.If they
can’t eat it in limitless amounts, dammit, then just count them out.
Now we have no choice but to go there every weekend.That’s not a chore, mind you, but under the circumstances
it’s become especially important that we support them.Their food is good, better off the menu than off the buffet,
and reasonably priced.
And in a place like Scranton , that’s got to be protected.
--Tomorrow I’ll tell you
about an encounter I had at the library yesterday afternoon -- with a Surf Reporter.Yeah,
that doesn’t happen very often.Until
then, I’d like your opinion on something.
Brad sent me this list last night, and I have some big problems with
big problems, in fact, and one GARGANTUAN problem.Any idea what it is?And
what’s your opinion of their opinions?Use the comments link below to vent and rant.I’m holding my tongue for now.
And I need to cut this one a little short today…So I’ll see you guys tomorrow.
Last night I dreamt I was Willie
Mays -- twenty years from now.