Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Rice And Fall of the "CRAMS" (or "CLABS")

We did it again! Sherlock, Drumbo, and I vowed to never eat at a Chinese restaurant again...but last night we caved in and did it! The sirens keep calling us! We have to stop it! We never learn!

For years, my two friends I have gone out to eat every Saturday night, always to Chinese buffets around the area. We referred to them as "Chinese Meetings", because we always went to Chinese buffets. We usually discuss politics while chowing down at the Chinese buffet. We would switch Chinese buffets every week, just to "shake things up".

Once, I accidentally said, "Where are we going for CRAMS tonight?" I meant to say "crabs", but accidentally combined "CRabs + clAMS" = "CRAMS"! The meetings were henceforth referred to as "CRAM meetings"! The offshoot of this was combining "CLams + crABS" = "CLABS"; once in a while we would call them "CLAB" meetings...just to "shake things up". "CRAMS" and "CLABS" became part of our lexicon.

I got to the advanced point, as compared to Sherlock and Drumbo, where I ONLY ate crabs, clams and won ton soup (to wash down the crabs and clams...or "CRAMS", if you will...). That's it! I stopped fooling around and strictly ate "CRAMS" and won ton soup!

At one point, though, we noticed the crabs were getting smaller and they weren't filling the crabs and clams bins as often as the other bins. Sherlock commented, "There's 100 bins here, they can keep all the bins filled with the cheap stuff like rice, but they just can't seem to keep those CRAM bins filled!" Lines would form at the empty CRAM bins, as people would wait for the CRAMS. There were so many people waiting for CRAMS, that when they brought them out, they were instantly gone and we wouldn't get any! One time, I was first in line for crabs, and when they came out, someone reached across from the other side with the prongs and grabbed all the crabs on me! I was about to flip out, when I noticed it was Drumbo! That bastard! He took all the crabs!

Another night, there were no clams. We asked the waiter why there were no clams, and he said, "The delivery truck with the clams didn't come." YEAH! Likely story! YOU just don't want to serve as many CRAMS because you make more money!

We started switching Chinese buffets more often, and noticed they ALL started getting skimpy on the CRAMS! Every Chinese buffet we went to, those CRAM bins were empty! But no other bins were empty! This was no accident that all the Chinese buffets started skimping on the CRAMS! They were ruining our "CRAM meetings"!!! Instead of talking about politics, we were watching the CRAM bins for them to come out of the back with more CRAMS!

Then the final straw. About a year ago, Drumbo was at the empty crab bin at this one Chinese buffet, minding his own business, when an old Chinese woman came from the back and yelled at Drumbo, in broken English, "YOU EAT TOO MUCH CRAB!!!" And held her hands apart, up and down, as if showing how big of a stack of crabs Drumbo was eating.

Drumbo was highly insulted, and when we went to the cash register, Drumbo refused to pay. The Chinese cashier went to the back, and came back out with this other Chinese guy who was bigger than him. But, what may pass for a "big guy" in China, isn't the same here. Drumbo was much bigger. This guy proceeded to call the cops on us, over the restaurant loudspeaker no less, so all the patrons could here what was going on. We went out to our car, and the smaller Chinese guy followed us. He kept saying, "Cops coming...cops coming." Drumbo said he was going to call the board of health on them. Ironically, a week later one of the OTHER Chinese buffets we went to got cited on several counts by the board of health.

We drove away not waiting for the cops to come, that's if they were really coming. We were joking in the car, that the cops probably answered the phone, and said, "We'll get right on it!" And then hung up laughing. "Yeah...we are investigating a murder right now, but we'll drop it and come right over there!" Maybe the LAST thing this Chinese buffet wanted were cops at their restaurant! In light of all the recent citations local Chinese buffets had been getting!

Anyway, we vowed never to speak again of the Chinese buffet/cops episode, and stopped having our meetings at Chinese buffets. Their food really started to suck, and was going downhill anyway. And it was frustrating waiting for them to bring out more CRAMS. After all, that's the reason we went there!

So, since the Chinese/cops incident, we've still been having our weekly meetings. We ate Mexican a few times, at at the local diner that just opened (I had a melted cheese/chicken sandwich, it was pretty good!), a great hamburger joint called "5 Guys" who actually have good hamburgers, some typical fast food places, etc...but no more Chinese buffets!

Yesterday, though, for some reason we again went to a Chinese restaurant...although not a buffet. The consensus was that is SUCKED! I ordered "Beef with mushrooms", and the beef was spongy! How can beef be spongy??? Sherlock has a theory, that Chinese restaurants have a giant drum of some powdery substance in the back, that they mix with water and roll into a big sheet...cut it up into little squares, and call it "beef." His other theory, is that they put this into ice cube trays and freeze it. Then they take out the ice cube trays and crack out the cubes into the wok. The point is, none of us think it's meat. Sherlock says this theory also applies to the spongy chicken. We are all convinced of this, and it is not real beef or chicken.

I ate half of it, and brought the other half home for my wife. She took one whiff of it, said, "Eeeewwww!!!! This stinks!!!", and threw it in the garbage. I didn't stop her.

What I'm trying to tell you here, is that we are NEVER going to a Chinese buffet OR restaurant again for our weekly meetings. The "CRAM" or "CLAB" heyday is over!!! And Chinese restaurants SUCK anymore!!!

One more thing: Why do Chinese buffets always have these words in their names: "Super", "Garden", "King", "Queen", "China" (well, that makes sense, actually...)??? They're probably all sitting around at a meeting, their OWN Chinese meeting, and saying, "Let's call it 'Super China King Queen Garden Buffet!!!" COME ON!!! Think of a different name!!!

Now, I will leave you with a song:

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