Buffet Philosophy 101

With Special Guest: Richard Dreyfuss

Phil Jacobsen

How you eat at an "all you can eat" buffet says a lot about your personality.

Some people pay their psychiatrists $75-100 an hour for personality actualization -- what a waste! Especially when an all you can eat buffet can cost as little as $6.95 for hours and hours of culinary and mental enjoyment.

So throw away your Prozac. Say good-bye to your Zoloft. Tell your psychiatrist you're finding your sanity in food. And let's take those voices in your head out to lunch.

Eating at a buffet is revealing of your personality, because at a buffet there aren't any rules. Desert can be your first entree and the salad your last. Or, since there is no one to regulate your food intake, you can peck at the food like a pigeon or you can treat the buffet like a personal Roman Barfatorium trough.

Oddly enough, the different ways of eating at a buffet and the personality types they reveal, can all be broken down into categories named after movies that have starred Richard Dreyfuss.

Category One: Close Encounters of the Third Kind (CETK)

At any given buffet the concept is the same. Use a clean plate every time you go back to the buffet line. You can go back as many times as you please, just grab a new plate.

However, the CETK buffet eater doesn't need to use a clean plate the next time they go through the buffet, because they can pile enough food on one plate the first time through, to last for the entire meal. The food is piled so high, it resembles the mountain that the aliens land on in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

The pros of CETK: Conversation at the table is never interrupted with "Hold that thought. I need more food."

The cons of CETK: All your food is lumped together, tastes the same and ends up replacing Roswell as a landing site for aliens.

The personality of CETK: You want it all and you want it NOW! CETK's are afraid that if they don't take an opportunity (or egg roll) when it's in front of them, someone else will take their opportunity (or egg roll).

Category Two: Jaws

Clear the beaches! Protect the children! It's time to eat and nothing will stand in your way. Restaurants hate the Jaws eater. This is the type of patron that wishes they could pull a chair up to the buffet line, and eat directly out of the serving bins. Money is lost in this feeding frenzy.

The pros of Jaws: You get your money's worth, but it's at the expense of raising the prices for others.

The cons of Jaws: At the expense of raising the prices for others, only you get your money's worth.

Personality: Jerk! You have an "It's all about me" attitude. You own a cell phone and your car is the phone booth.

Category Three: Down and Out in Beverly Hills (DOBH)

When was the last time you ate? When was the last time you had a job? If you're unemployed and can't afford to eat at a restaurant, the best place to eat is a buffet. Especially if an employed friend is buying and you've lined your backpack with cellophane.

Pros of DOBH: A backpack full of food.

Cons of DOBH: Soon you won't have any friends. And your backpack smells like a rotten refrigerator.

Personality of DOBH: Isn't life great when you're unemployed? Free time is your most valuable asset. You can't hold down a job because you're lazy. Luckily, you don't realize this, because you refer to yourself as an artist.

Category Four: The Goodbye Girl (TGG)

Going to a buffet on a date can be a risky venture. Do you eat CETK style? Jaws or DOBH? The answer, of course, is none of the above. And that's why Richard Dreyfuss kindly gave us The Goodbye Girl. Here, two people come together under one restaurant roof for an off beat romantic buffet get away. You hope The Goodbye Girl dining experience will leave you feeling "wonderfully exuberant (the New York Times)."

Pros of TGG: Hey man! You're on a date.

Cons of TGG: Watch your manners. The goal is to say "hello" to the inside of the Goodbye Girl's apartment. This won't happen if you walk out of the restaurant saying, "Look at my gut! I have to undo my pants just so my belly can fit in my jeans."

Personality of TGG: You're at a buffet on a date? At least you're not at a Monster Truck Rally or a World Wide Wrestling Federation event. You're unconventional. Appearance means little, your mustache may need trimming, but overall life is good and your entire outfit only cost two dollars.

Certainly there are other Richard Dreyfuss movies that apply to the buffet, like the wacky What About Bob? That movie instructs us that "baby steps" are the best way to approach a buffet lay out. Or, have you had a Stakeout on the buffet line waiting for next batch of fresh pizza? If so, thank Mr. Dreyfuss.

Arguably, that's what's so good about him. Richard Dreyfuss can get an Oscar for The Goodbye Girl, star in a movie with Charlie Sheen, plus help us eat at a buffet. Is there anything Richard can't do? And, with Richard Dreyfuss's help, is there anything you can't do?

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