And there he was, hoisting his hamburger high in the air right off Hwy. 2 in Manistique – Big Boy – and I don’t know if his name was Bob or Marc or Tom or Jiggle the Handle Jim – but he stood tall and proud and with a goofy grin on his plastic face and he beckoned me in with a promise of tempting treats.
The place was buzzing with waitress wazoos dressed in bright yellow tops and one dude too who was studying to be an engineer and he stuck me way in the back like they always do with the onesies, the loners, the fools who dine alone, the ones who shy away from society, and why not? It’s all pointless drivel.
I ordered a fish sandwich and a salad and I specially asked for no tomatoes but forgot to say NO ONIONS, too. But who puts chopped up onions on top of a salad? BIG BOY does! Bleh. Strike one. I pushed the crappy onions to the edge of the plate as best I could but still ended up chewing on a few nasty bits and it pretty much turned me off the salad.
I was seated pretty close to the buffet and I took a look earlier just to see what it was all about – steaming pans of meat and fish and spuds and corn and mushy macaroni and cheese. I didn’t know how long it had been sitting there, but considering it was about 3 p.m. when I strolled in, I figured it had been a while. Strike two.
As I sat munchy wunching my fish sandwich and looking around the joint, I watched as one big bubba after another stepped up to the buffet and loaded their plates way beyond capacity. I’m talking mountains of food that made me gag. One big fella loaded one plate, set it down at his table, and then filled another with all kinds of dripping salad bar slaw and sauces. Pig people. Big, friendly pig people.
Then he came in – slovenly, skull cap and leather, dark sunglasses, a belly as big as a whale, and a bodacious beard. It was a ZZ Top beard that hung down off his face like a shower curtain. It swayed as he walked and I knew things were going to be bad, real bad, when he scooped up a plate and bent forward into the food. Yeah, they had those plastic sneeze guards up part way over the food, but it was no BEARD GUARD. It was pure entertainment watching him dip his chin down and seeing the bottom fringes of his beard glide across the messy tops of the salad dressing crocks, scrape across the toppings – like black olives, egg pieces and imitation bacon bits – and then bounce into the heaping bowl of fresh lettuce. But it was the mashed potatoes and gravy that were the worst. He got those whiskers in their real down and deep and when he came up I could see the drippings clinging to life from the ends of his masculine hair mask. Strike three, you’re out.
When he sat down at his table the beard ends continued to dangle in his food as he ate and his hard-luck woman even pointed it out.
“You got food in your beard,” she said pretty loudly.
Some rambunctious kid of about 7 or 8, and who probably had mental problems, kept running around the joint and playing with the tongs and spoons at the buffet and his Ma and Pa kept yelling at him from across the restaurant – instead of actually getting up and going over and straightening him out. The kid suddenly caught a glimpse of the bearded gobble gobbler and went over to his table, stood at the edge of it and just stared at him.
“I like your beard,” he finally said.
“Thanks kid. I like my beard, too. Now why don’t you stop acting like a wild Indian. It’s really getting on my nerves.”