People should not eat all they can eat. Some of us consider that a challenge to be met. Like many Americans, I am a high-volume eater. Given a choice between a perfectly grilled filet mignon and a box of store-brand macaroni and cheese, I am apt to choose the macaroni. Just like the old theater treat, I like my food Good ‘N Plenty. It is that old quality versus quantity question.

The last time I set foot into a buffet restaurant, I stood at the doorway in awe. All that culinary splendor had me salivating like Pavlov’s dog. I was apt to founder like greedy livestock.

Hanging over the abundance of culinary delight were the words lovelier and more profound than a poem by Keats or a Shakespearian sonnet: All You Can Eat for $12.95.

For a few moments, I stood in the doorway, soaking up the atmosphere. It was a feast for the senses. Tantalizing aromas drifted above the shiny troughs of steaming entres. See how the grilled chicken livers lie suspended, as if by magic. Behold the rubbery translucent glow of lime green gelatin.

The metallic clatter of cheap tin silverware provided the percussion in a symphony of sizzling grease and whirring blenders. Ahh, there lie the mashed potatoes. They probably would feel just like mud squishing up between the toes of an eight-year-old on a hot summer day.

Warning bells seemed to echo inside my head. Take a look around, I said to myself, and heed the warning. Flee for your life, before your removal from this restaurant requires a forklift and a chain saw and is the lead story on the six o’clock news.

I very nearly made my escape. I blame everything on the servers. With their hair tucked primly into netted chignons and their hands encased in vinyl gloves, they gestured seductively at the array of tempting delights. It reminded me of the mythological Sirens of the Sea, beckoning lonely sailors to their deaths.

“Come closer, come closer,” they seemed to whisper.

I waddled out of that restaurant three days later and fifteen pounds heavier.

I broke my vow never to set foot at another buffet table when a friend coaxed me into joining her for lunch at a nearby gambling boat. I found the diners here to be a different breed than the patrons at that other buffet restaurant. These diners ate only enough to keep their strength up while gambling. Potato chips took a back seat to poker chips.

“Thank heavens I never have succumbed to the lure of gambling,” I said to the high roller on my left. “Ooh, look at that scrumptious dessert table!” I added. “I’ll bet you I can eat that entire cheesecake in less than three minutes. Twenty bucks say I can finish off that tub of lasagna without using my hands. How about it? Double or nothing says that it will take a forklift to get me off this boat,” I said as I waddled to the right side of the boat.

“Hey, are we listing to starboard? Pass me some of that fried chicken and a life jacket, will you?”

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