Thursday, September 29, 2011

Old Country Buffet, the Old Man, and the Chocolate Chip Cookie Tower of Doom


When Tim was about 7 years old, Old Country Buffet was pushing to have their restaurants labeled kid friendly.  Part of this campaign was to go after the sweet tooth of juveniles across the country by having a commercial showing a kid making a mammoth dessert from chocolate chip cookies, soft ice cream, pie, cake, whipped cream and sprinkles.  Tim being no different asked if we could go to the nearest Old Country Buffet so he could match such a colossal effort; soon this became a once every few months family outing.

We had gone out one night during Christmas shopping.  Tim enjoyed his main stay of pizza, spaghetti, chocolate milk, and of course the leaning cookie tower of chocolate doom.  Tim slurped down cup after cup of chocolate milk.  His mother and I both chastised him not to gulp down so much chocolate milk because he would fill up on that and not eat his dinner.  Tim despite warnings continued and eventually finished his dinner and his mammoth dessert.  Soon his bladder called for relief and he ran off to the rest room with me following him interrupting my meal.
After a few trips of bladder relief and his mother and I having our dessert and my customary cup of coffee, we gathered our dishes and stacked them to make it easier for the dining room attendant. As we were leaving, I ran into two friends from the 12th District, John and Brenda.  Both were at a table with another couple enjoying a night out at the movies and stopped for a quick bite.
I introduced my wife and Tim to John and company.  There was a bit of small talk about the evening, preparing for Santa, and work.  Tim began to do a little side step dance left to right, right to left.
“Daddy,” Tim interrupted.  “I have to go to the bathroom again.”
“In a second Tim,” I said.  I turned back to John and Brenda and our conversation.
“Daddy, please.” Tim was now holding his belly.
I began to excuse myself so I could escort Tim to the Mens Room.  I don’t know what happened to prompt my son’s explosive spewing.  All I know is that he suddenly was reenacting Linda Blair from the Exorcist.  Tim vomited in a gushing fire hose stream of puke.  An old man sitting behind Tim suddenly raised his arms in a defensive posture yelling “No.”  The old man’s exclamatory protest came out in slow motion as he was suddenly covered with undigested pizza, spaghetti, chocolate milk, and the mammoth chocolate chip cookie tower of doom.
As Tim’s stomach continued to revolt against his dinner and pushed his dinner out, the entire side of the dining room, with the exception of John and Brenda, cleared a wide berth.  I stood in a combination of embarrassment, concern, anger, and not knowing if I wanted to cry or laugh.  I pushed Tim off to the men’s room to clean him up.  I kept thinking of the pie eating contest from movie Stand by Me.  As I leaned Tim over the toilet and dragged him over to the sink to clean him up, I couldn’t hold it down myself and joined the party.
Tim regained his composure and began to cry and apologize.  I started to admonish him for drinking so much chocolate milk and wasting his dinner, but stopped and began to laugh.  We exited the men's room and made a bee line for the exit.  When we got into the car, I imitated the old man raising his arms and shrieking “Nooooooo!”
The next day at work, I offered John to pay for any dry cleaning he and Brenda may need.  John said he only got a few drops on his blazer and Brenda managed to escape any contamination.  “Your boy did get that old guy behind us real good though.”
“Oh my God,” I said.  “I am so embarrassed.”
“Marty-Mart,” John said.  “Its part of having kids; you’ll be joking about this one day with him.”
John was right.  It was one of Tim’s favorite stories to be told.  He loved how I used an old geezer voice and said no in a faux slow-motion like in the movies or comedy shows.  When ever we went to Old Country Buffet he would want me to tell the story.  He was the hero and villain; the center of attention and the subject.  I miss hearing him laugh and put in his own interjections to liven up the tale.