This weekend we happened to be out of town at dinner time (or supper, if you grew up the way I did!). Our restaurant of choice was a pizza buffet. It doesn’t really matter which one – we’ve been to this chain before and always have been happy…at least as happy as you can be at a pizza buffet with three kids, one of them being a four year old who insists on cheese pizza, NOT cheesy breadsticks. Because there is obviously a difference.
Anyway. This story actually has nothing to do with my own family. It DOES have to do with my instincts as a mom.
As I sat down at our round table, situated almost in the buffet area (the only available seating large enough for us when we arrived), I noticed a young man seated at a 2-person booth across from us. Aaron was across our table from me, with his back to this young man.
I noticed the young man because he had his head bowed into his hands, the plate of pizza untouched in front of him. I thought, “Wow, I think he’s praying…that’s kinda awesome and unexpected.”
Then his friend sat down opposite him and started eating. And still, the young man kept his head bowed.
Definitely not praying. I continued watching him (while getting food for that four year old and myself) and he remained in the same position. Momma-knowledge kicked in. He obviously wasn’t feeling well, and for a split second I wanted to go put my hand on his forehead to take his temperature. I resisted that urge.
I also briefly considered going over and asking if he was all right, but didn’t because I was afraid that he would be embarrassed, and also that my concern may trigger a shower of vomit.
The dude was suffering.
Finally, I watched him put his hands down, stand up, walk towards the bathrooms, do one of those half-retches, with his hand over his mouth, and then bee-lined it for the bathrooms.
I had to share. “Aaron, that guy is 3 seconds from ralphing. He almost puked all over the salad bar.” Don’t you wish you got to have dinner with me?!
As badly as I felt for the young man, it was the actions of his friend that completely bewildered me. (Although my brother, when told the story, accurately predicted this next part, which makes me think it’s a male/female difference…) While his friend was obviously ill, his friend continued eating with no change of expression, and went back for refills several times. There was no interaction between the two at all. As the young man left for the bathroom and nearly blew chunks over half the buffet, his friend actually half-chuckled – in between bites of pizza. He continued eating for several minutes. At some point I noticed that both had left, and the one had never come back to the table. “Maybe he went out the back door, ” Aaron speculated. I could barely eat having watched this whole thing go down – I can’t imagine putting away the pizza as the friend had done, with that greenish face directly opposite me!
A bit later, Ben and I went to the bathroom. The whole hallway was freshly and enthusiastically mopped. Something tells me that he didn’t make it to the bathroom.
Lest you think that the pizza had caused his regretful situation, I’ll remind you that his plate was untouched…and there was only the one plate. Which leads to the question: who on EARTH would agree to go to a pizza buffet if they felt that ill?! Paying nine dollars to puke in a public bathroom doesn’t seem like the best plan for a Saturday evening.