The Hillbilly Buffet

18 Jul

Not even 48 hours after going down one of the largest water slides in the Midwest in a velour banana suit, I arrived at Golden Corral dressed in a Three Wolf Moon T-shirt and a blue bandana. Dallas wore a flat billed Batman hat, huge basketball shorts, and a T shirt that said, “I attended Buffalo Wild Wings Draft Day 2009.” (I use the term “T shirt” loosely, because it was cut in such a way that at least one of his nipples was showing at all times).

The entire cast of American Country decided that we were going to go to the Golden Corral and have “redneck night.” Now, being from West Virginia proved to be amazingly helpful in this situation. While we planned our character names, back stories, and pasts, I simply took details from my hometown.

Janelle: Okay wait. Where are we from?
Me: We are from Moundsville, West Virginia.
Dallas: MOUNDS-ville?
Me: Yeah.
Layke: Wait… MOUNDS-ville?!
Me: Yeah, there’s a big Indian burial ground in the center of the town. It’s a big mound. Thus, Moundsville.
DJ: MOUNDS-ville?
Me: Moundsville.
Dallas: That’s… actually perfect. And you and I are engaged, right?
Me: Right. And Layke? You’re Bubba, and Janelle, you’re Timberly, and you two are separated but trying to work it out, okay? And Kayla? You’re Tammy Lynn.
Taylor: Who am I!?
Me: You’re Darlene, my best friend and next door neighbor since kindergarten. We’re all going on a family/friend vacation to King’s Island before me and Dallas’ wedding, okay? Darlene, you’re bitter because I chose Timberly to be my maid of honor.
Layke: This is going to be hilarious.
Taylor: I KNOW I CAN’T WAIT ITS SERIOUSLY GOING TO BE-
Dallas: TAYLOR! I swear if you f-ck this up I will have NO problem kicking you out, do you understand me!?!?!
Taylor: Yes, sir. But I had an idea…
Dallas: NO! You are Darlene, you’re a trashy tramp, and you’re going to bring a People magazine to the table with you, you got that?
Taylor: Okay. But I had an idea-
Dallas: What!?
DJ: Here we go…
Taylor: What if I have a child, but I don’t know who the baby daddy is, so there are a number of men who send me money, and with that money I bought myself an iPhone?
(Collective pause.)
Kayla: BAAAA HAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!
Dallas: That’s actually great!
Taylor: Guys! Guys, it’s great! Haha! I promise I won’t mess up! Okay! I promise! And if I do, you have my FULL permission to kick me out!

After memorizing our back stories, names, and identities, we were ready. We all arrived at the Golden Corral in style…

Janelle emerged from her car wearing camo capris and a cut off t shirt that read “SHUT UP AND FISH.”

Layke had on a button up red flannel shirt over a wife beater, with the button up buttoned only on the very top button.

Kayla wore a fanny pack, cut off jeans shorts, and a T shirt with a picture of a chihuahua on it.

Kyle, (a member of another cast), was probably the most entertaining human I’ve ever seen. He was shamelessly sporting cowboy boots tucked under almost white denim jeans, which had been ripped in the crotch at one point, but sewn back up with red white and blue thread. Three cut off shirts, (ending with a denim vest, of curse) and a hat with two different pictures of two different hand gestures- the middle finger, and then a pointed “you” finger (a la Uncle Sam). He also refused to remove his sunglasses at any point.

We all stroll into Golden Corral. It’s literally like a commercial; all-American families enjoying the all-you-can-eat splendor. Everyone is dressed normally, except for us. Dallas is, of course, being ridiculously loud, and DJ and I keep shush-ing him.

Dallas: WHAAT!? DON’T SHUSH ME, WOMAN.
Me: What’d you just call me?!
Dallas: I’m sorry baby, I’ll be quieter.
Cashier: Hello, there.
Janelle: Yes, hello, hi there, how do ya do? Yes, we had a reservation for 12, I called earlier.
Cashier: Um… We usually don’t do reservations for parties less than 20.
Kyle: Shit!!! This place is all fancy-like, with signs tellin’ us where all the different foods are and stuff! Look, there’s the china section!
Janelle: Oh. Well… (Shooting a nasty look to Darlene AKA Taylor, my jealous best friend from my childhood) Makin’ the reservation was my Bridesmaid Of Honor duty. See, they’re gettin’ married and we’re on a vacation to King’s Island.  When I called earlier the woman on the phone seemed pretty darn happy I called, I read online you like to know when big parties are coming so-
Layke: Baby, why don’t you just shut up and let the men handle this one, okay, sweet pea? Hi, yes, we had a reservation. Now you telling me you done gone and lost it?
(Kayla puts her hands over her face to keep from laughing. At this point, the cashier is looking incredibly uncomfortable.)
Me: Bubba, be nice, I’m sure they-
Layke: Hey! I done know where you come from, but where I’m from, women are seen and not heard, is that understood?
Dallas: What’d you say to my woman?!?
Me: Baby, it’s fine. Look, you got a reservation or not? Or should we all just make our way around and find some seats to fit us all?
(The cashier looks from me, to Dallas, to Layke, to Kayla, to SHUT UP AND FISH Janelle, finally landing on Kyle’s hat, and he seems to be considering letting us all loose in the restaurant.)
Cashier: Give me a second to talk to my coworkers… In the meantime, what can I get you to drink?
Dallas: Mountain Dew. DUH.
Cashier: And for you?
Me: Mountain Dew.
Cashier: And… for you?
Kyle: Mountain Dew.
Cashier: And… you?
Layke: Mother’s Milk. Or as yuns city folk like to call it… Mountain Dew!
Dallas: WOOO!!!
(They high five.)
Cashier: …Are you all just going to get Mountain Dew?
Dallas: Actually, can we just get a big pitcher of it? Can you do that for us… Whats your name? (He looks as his name tag) Connor? Can you just do that for us Connor?
Connor: Well, you get free refills, anyway, so…
Kyle: HOT DAMN! You hear that, baby? FREE refills! I knew I’d like this- HOLY MOLY they got fried chicken!
Layke: SHAKE N BAKE BABY!!!

At this point, it is taking everything inside of me to not break character. I am laughing so hard my eyes are watering from trying to NOT laugh so hard…. Finally, another waitress comes up. She’s Asian, and her name is Zoe.

Zoe: Party of 12?
Me: That’s raight.
Zoe: …Follow me.
Dallas: Finally! Someone who knows what they’re talkin’ about.

She leads us to a long table in the back corner of the restaurant.

Zoe: Here you go.
Dallas: THANK yeeeew! What’s your name… Zoe? Zoe, it’s nice to meet you. Thank you darlin!
Me: (Remembering my Applebee’s days and feeling so sorry for this poor woman) And we all had Mountain Dews, just so’s you know.
Layke: MOUNTAIN DEW!!! Dale Earnhardt Junior, number three, y’all WOO!
Zoe: … enjoy…

Dallas springs up and grabs a plate. I can’t really look anyone in the eye, so I follow suit and try to keep a straight face. I go for the mashed potatoes first. I finally get composed enough to speak.

Me: Look, y’all. They got baked sweet taters over yonder on that there steam container thingy.
Kayla: I’m trying to watch my figger. Imma gonna go look at the chocolate fountain.
(Exit Kayla)
Kyle: Shit! Look at this, they got all kinds of fancy sauces over here, like turrEEEakkie, and good ol’ sweet barbecue.
Janelle: Ooooh I love me some BBQ!
Layke: (Laughing at himself) Yeah, well, your waist sure shows it, too, done it?
Janelle: Hey!
(Dallas, meanwhile, is across the way loading his plate with literally 5 drumsticks of fried chicken, and Layke notices. He ducks down under the buffet and waves to him.)
Layke: Shake n’ Bake, baby!
Dallas: SHAKE N BAKE!!!

We all sit down. I’m about to bite into my mashed potatoes when Kyle says:

Kyle: Now HOLD ON a second, wait up… Now, who here is gonna say the grace? I don’t want a repeat of last christmas dinner, you all remember that, don’t you?
Me: I sures do. Cousin Jeeter still has a scar.
Kayla: Why don’t you say the grace, then, darlin’?
Janelle: I’m the Bridesmaid of Honor, I think that I should say-
Layke: Now don’t you think you talk enough already as it is, there?
Dallas: I’m fricken’ hungry, and I got five, hot, steaming crispy shake n’ bake drumsticks on my plate. Someone just say the damn grace!
Kyle: All right, yall, I’M sayin’ the grace! Everyone take hands and bow your heads.
(I am so happy to have an excuse to hide my face and close my eyes)
Kyle: Dear Jesus. (Dramatic pause.)  We thank you for this big… steaming…bountiful… all-yous-can-eat feast at the Golden Corral-
Layke: (Under his breath) Shake n’ bake…
Kyle: …and we want you to thank you for bringin’ us all here on this here vacation to King’s Island
Dallas: (Under his breath) Best place in the world…
Kyle: …to celebrate the upcoming weddin’ of these two lovely people sittin’ here to my right. And we ask that you bless them, and love them, and keep them in your Jesus-y hands, as they draw nearer to the day of their nuptial join-ment. May they have a happy weddin’ day and be all prosperous and joyful and all of that happy family life shit. AMEN.
All: AMEN!

We continue the meal, Layke and Janelle having fights about their failing marriage, Dallas shushing everyone, only to let out a muffled fart, and Taylor talking over everyone about her findings in the People Magazine she’s been reading at the table the whole time. Zoe comes back to refill our glasses a few times, and when she does, we ask her to take a few pictures of us together. Every time she’s about to snap the picture, we all yell: “Dale Earnhardt Jr. Yall!”

We’re all eating, enjoying the meal, when suddenly a HUGE group of African American girls aged anywhere between 10 and 18 come up to us.

Girl 1: Hey, can we just ask… Where are you all from?
Me: Moundsville, West Virginia!
(They all start to laugh, and then try to hide their amusement to be polite.)
Girl 1: W…West Virginia, huh?
Me: Yep! That’s right, we’re here on a family vacation. We’re going to King’s Island tomorrow, oh baby I’m so excited!
Dallas: Yep, and we’re gettin’ married soon, too!
Girl 3: You are!?
Me: Yep! Here’s the ring! (I show them the gold, not-really-an-engagement-ring-at-all ring I just happened to have on.)
(They stare at it, really unsure of how to react.)
Girl 2: Oh. Wow.
Me: Isn’t it just the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen? Now I know the diamond ain’t too big or anything but I’m a woman who knows how to live within my means, ain’t that right, baby?
Dallas: Darn tootin’.
Layke: Why don’t you tell em the story about that ring, huh?
Me: Aw no, they’re not interested in hearin’ about-
Girls: Oh no! Tell us! We want to hear! Oh my God no we want to hear! Etc…
Dallas: Well. You see, that ring is a family air-ah-loom. My great great grand mammy was actually one of those Jews, you see? And she actually survived in the Holocaust!

At this point, I literally don’t know if I’m going to be able to handle what comes out of Dallas’ mouth.

Dallas: And she gave it to her baby, then that baby gave it to HER baby, and then my momma gave it to ME because I’m the first born son and she never had a daughter and it was my job to give it to the woman of my choice, and I chose this woman right here.
Me: Oh, baby, you’re makin’ me bluushhh… He’s so romantic-like.
Layke: Tell em how you proposed!!!
Girls: Oh yeah! Tell us! We want to know! Etc…
(Keep in mind, the girls are blatantly looking at each other, laughing, then looking back to us and acting like they are sincerely interested.)
Me: No, no, they don’t want to hear about-
Girls: NO! We do! Please! Etc…
Dallas: Well! It was our second date and I had the ring all ready already, and we went to our favorite place to eat dinner called A Whole Lotta Pasta, and you know them there real skinny breadsticks? Not the big fluffy ones but the kinda smaller, crunchy ones? Well that’s the type of fancy place this was, with the crispy little breadsticks, and- Well I put the ring around one of them there sticks so that when she bit into it she’d see the ring, right? Well, I was so nervous, I asked the waitress to ask the question for me while I was in the restroom and she did, and I came back out (After woarshin’ my hands, o’ course) and she said yes! And so then we got engaged and now there’s only… how long till the weddin’, baby?
Me: (Almost not able to speak) 46 days till the weddin’, yall!
Girls: Aww! Congratulations!

At this point, Zoe arrives at the table with two special birthday treats. (Apparently, Kyle told her that it was “Big Bubba’s birthday” and that it was DJ’s “Belated birthday surprise dinner celebration”) We, of course, immediately burst into applause and song.

All: Haaaappy Biiiiirthday dear Bubba and Cooooooooooper, Happy Birthday TOOOO YOUUUU!! WOOOOO!!!!!!!
Girl 2: Hey! It’s my uncle’s birthday too! Can you all sing for him!?
Me: Well shoot! Of course we can!

So before I even know what the heck is happening, here we are at the Golden Corral serenading a huge, blushing, just-turned-40-year-old African American man with a positively massive crowd of his family (?) friends (?) singing and cheering with us. As you can imagine, it’s a pretty loud Happy Birthday. The entire restaurant applauds after we have finished.

We eventually leave and walk out into the parking lot, but not without saying goodbye to Zoe and Connor on our way out. (Dallas: THANKS FOR THE MOUNTAIN DEW, YALL!) As we all stand in the parking lot and look at each other with amazement, as if to say, “What the hell just happened? Did we seriously just pull that off?”a huge caravan carrying the entire African American party speeds off and honks at us. 17 bright and happy faces are shoved up against the window, with 17 waving hands shaking enthusiastically.

Van: (HONK HONK!) BYEEEE!!! NICE MEETING YOU!
Us: BYE YALL!!! NICE MEETIN’ ALL YUNS CITY FOLK!!!!
Me: AND HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!

After this, there really wasn’t anything we could even hope to do to top what had just happened, so we all went back to Kayla’s apartment. But then, Dallas went outside to the drainage collection lake and caught a bull frog the size of a small dog. He put it in a Tupperware container and asked DJ and I if he could keep it, and we said “Absolutely not.” So then he whined and cried a bit, but in the end, he threw it back in the lake. I was proud of him.

The end.

Image

Dallas and I, the happy couple. I’m holding a gift that Kayla brought for our “son.” According to our backstory, he was back at the motel being watched by the lady at the front desk, who only charges 4 dollars an hour. 46 days till the weddin’ y’all.

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4 Responses to “The Hillbilly Buffet”

  1. Kirk Sheppard July 18, 2012 at 11:09 am #

    Even more magical than I could have ever imagined. I could never have the guts to pull this off. I want you all on my TV now doing this sort of thing every single week!

  2. Chris Chamberlain July 18, 2012 at 2:39 pm #

    I swear to God Carolyn…if you wrote a book of nothing but the crazy shit you did at King’s Island, I’d buy 10 copies in case the first 9 broke down

  3. Heather Heiney July 18, 2012 at 6:33 pm #

    Wow! This is HIL-AR-IOUS! I’m cracking up over here in Greensboro. I can remember my FIRST time to a Golden Corral, and it was pretty overwhelming. I got fried chicken, steak, carrots, and mashed potatoes – all on my first trip! They got great rolls too….better than Texas Roadhouse. I hope you’re surviving out in all that heat….Angie said you guys were awesome when she went but couldn’t stay and chat….she has like a “real” job now (Haha!). I was eating lunch yesterday with my boss and he pulls out a Little Debbie from his lunchbox….I about died…..no one else understands but you. Take care, little donut!

  4. Heather Claw July 23, 2012 at 10:14 pm #

    I literally almost cried when I read this. This story is beautiful and should be shared with everyone in the whole wide world.

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