Dancing at the buffet

No disrespect to Kansas City, but we moved there from San Francisco. The comparisons were brutal.

SF is the land of 10,000 restaurants, some of which we could afford. Many of those were Chinese, Japanese, and Korean restaurants, and they were excellent. I don’t think we ever had an Asian meal in SF that wasn’t at least pretty good.

Then we moved to Kansas City, where there may have been great restaurants, but we couldn’t afford them. When we ate at any restaurant we could afford, we were often disappointed. I’ll eat almost anything, but Stephanie thought a meal should taste good if you're paying for it.

We found just one reasonably good Chinese restaurant in Kansas City, and it wasn’t in Kansas City proper. It was in Mall Land. That's what we called the indistinguishable suburbs on the Kansas side of the border, where there were chain stores at every intersection, strip malls between the intersections, and major shopping centers every mile or so.

In the parking lot of one of those malls, but in its own building, was a Chinese buffet that was affordable, casual, and generally tasty. We ate there several times, which made it our favorite KC restaurant, by default.

The food was good, but maybe we liked that restaurant more for the music. They played Asian pop over the muzak speakers in the dining area, and it was always catchy. Dick Clark on American Bandstand would say, “It's got a good beat and you can dance to it,” and we did, just once, when we were there for lunch and the place wasn’t too crowded. We didn’t dance for long, and afterward Steph told me, “You’re a terrible dancer,” and we laughed, and went back for another plateful of food.

We’d been married for five or seven years by then, but still every day with that lady was something new and something fun. It never stopped being something new and something fun. Well, except for the occasional hospitalizations.

We could’ve gone fifty years, I think, if she hadn’t up and died on me. That’s just a wisecrack, of course — Stephanie would chuckle if I said that, and in my mind’s ear I can hear her laughing. And on my mind’s feet we’re dancing again, by the back booth at that Chinese buffet in Mall Land.