Most people don’t want to admit they eat at Golden Corral, despite the fact that it has an undeniably dazzling array of food—enough to satisfy the secret cravings and particularities of any sort of eater. Below, we’ve cataloged some plate arrangements put together by some of the most famous Golden Corral regulars.
Daniel Day-Lewis builds meals, structurally, beginning with children’s pizza. Released from the cashier, red plastic cup of Sierra Mist in hand, Day-Lewis refuses to sit at the table with his family until he overtakes the Pizza Korner of the buffet. Eyes glittering—pooling, perhaps—knees jigging up lightly in place almost like a cat kneading brainlessly and inappropriately on a doughy cat-dad’s belly as he lays tasteless pizza into log-cabin-honest foundations for ‘toppings’ in what he believes are avant-garde flavor profiles honed after decades of research at Golden Corral, or, sometimes, granted by God in moments of private epiphany.
John Kerry can’t help himself. Look at all this shit! This place is fun! John Kerry gets so worked up just standing near the troughs he can’t help but staring at all the choices, gape-mouthed, gripping his plate so hard sometimes it breaks in half. Then, once he gets his food, chosen impulsively but intuitively from the array using his fingers instead of the tongs, back at the table he finds it hard to even eat what he’s gathered. He sits and grins and waits and thinks and sits on his hands and rubs his sock-y feets together under the table. (“There will be no wearing of the shoes tonight, sir!” he tells his wife on the way to dinner. “You know, like Asia.”) What a feeling! What a world!
Danny DeVito, as it is well known, only eats beige or off-white foods. His young and inexperienced Buffet Runner was fired for including this irritatingly chalk-yellow egg center on his fourth plate and dismissed with a grand, magnanimous but unknown gesture, the sort upon which DeVito has built an empire.
Kanye West gets a plate of cake with ice cream and sits and watches that shit melt into a puddle. Once it has, he signals for the waiter to come over and get this fucking plate out of his face. Then he goes into the bathroom and washes his hands and face with the hottest water they’ve got while looking at himself in the bathroom mirror. Then he goes back out and does it again. Two hours, 17 cakes, and 80 gallons of ice cream later, he leaves a $30,000 tip in cash.
Chan Marshall of Cat Power scalps the awful and bland plaques of pastry off of the peach cobbler because they are the closest food equivalent she can find to the Void. She picks mournfully at the plaques until her date drops his fork and asks in a stern whisper why she must make her illnesses so ‘showy’ and ‘disruptive’ to everyone around her, which finally allows her to feel at home.
Willie Nelson can’t say why he feels compelled to pull over and go in any time he sees a sign for Golden Corral, but it’s become a problem. He’s missed doctors’ appointments, weddings, concerts… always suddenly finding himself instead seated there in the strange yellow light of a dining establishment where he doesn’t even care to eat. Once he’s seated, though, he finds he can’t bring himself to get up until they’re closing, pushed out again with an empty stomach into the edgeless night. It never fails that by the end of his stay he’s been offered dozens of refills on his water, resulting in new full glasses to match the ones he’s yet to drink, each of which Willie Nelson thanks his server kindly, while inside he’s all shrieking.
Walt Whitman is only interested in the cotton candy. His wife implores him to fill a plate with some actual dinner, a command he pretends to not understand. The zitty boy assigned to tend the dessert bar, whipping new paper cones around the cotton candy machine with powerful sloppiness, pretends to not hear Walt Whitman as he asks what else can be stuck into the machine and wound with this terrific gossamer netting.
Joel Osteen eats quietly, without utensils, facing a wall. His family waits outside in the minivan and will have to eat whatever they can find.
Martha Stewart eats alone at Golden Corral. She scoops clam chowder decorously into a tiny melamine bowl, then dumps the bowl upon her toast, fries, and red Jell-O and tops it with fried chicken livers. She knows the hot, cellulitey chowder will melt the Jell-O and only this, of all food combinations, will best mimic the slop she saw slipping down the tube her surgeon used during her last liposuction, a marbled pattern of whites and reds and pinks that she felt more proud of having created than anything else, more than any Perfect Lemon Rosemary Roasted Chicken or Winter Glitter Rick Rack Bunting she’s ever made, art made out of her very body, a pattern manifested wholly of her spirit made flesh, and which she hunts for again so painfully to replenish, to eat and keep in her, this one gorgeous thing.
R. Kelly likes salad toppings. Just the ones that look clean, though, not like somebody’s ratty ass baby’s been digging around in it and whatnot. Beets are good as hell. R. Kelly likes seven peas only, which he counts out with a pair of gold tweezers he has made special with the date stamped on it whenever he goes to the buffet. Salad dressing must be applied sparingly, as that shit will fuck your abs up, but R. Kelly won’t even use what little appears on this plate because it expanded by chance into the sunflower seeds, and R. Kelly feels when two foods touch, that’s nasty. R. Kelly will hide the uneaten seeds in a napkin because he doesn’t want to be thought of as wasteful, or as a prude. The ham he doesn’t eat. R. Kelly takes the ham home in a bag and adds it to his ham collection.
David Lynch takes a blue plate. He puts the plate back. He picks the plate up again and looks at it with his reading glasses on. He puts the plate back and takes a red plate. He decides the red is right. He goes over to the steak station where a guy in a white coat asks him how he wants his steak cooked. David Lynch asks if he can just have a raw piece of the meat. The cook says that’s not allowed. David Lynch asks why that’s not allowed. The cook explains if a customer gets sick, that’s Golden Corral’s ass. I’m not going to eat the steak, David Lynch says. I just want to hold it. Come on, man, the cook says. What, haven’t you ever held a steak in public? David Lynch asks. He harrumphs and adjusts his tie. He asks loudly if there’s any justice in this world. No one answers. People are looking at him. David Lynch says OK he supposes he’ll just have to take the motherfucking steak cooked fucking all the way well done. He stands there staring hard at the side of the cook’s head waiting while the cook presses the steak hard against the grill to sear it extra, in spite. He plops the steak on David Lynch’s plate. David Lynch thanks the cook and walks with the steak held out before him over to the nearest trash can, drops the steak in it. He then walks and lingers for some time in front of the buffet area behind the other people dishing out their foods, watching who takes what. When the line clears, he steps up and takes a single taco salad shell out of a container full of shells, carefully selecting one well-buried underneath a pile of similar others, a very certain shell. He puts the shell on the steak plate still graced with the smatterings of meat juices. He carries the taco shell back to his table and sits with it pouting, whispering to the taco salad shell.
Axl Rose trusts only corn and mini corn.
Previously by Blake Butler - If You Build the Code, Your Computer Will Write the Novel