I am out amongst the after-holiday sale crowds at a local mall. People yawn as they trudge around clothes racks. Some scowl as I wait in line. Merchandise litters the floor in aisles near the cash registers. I finally reach check out and my stomach growls audibly. As I step out into the fresh air, a Soup Plantation restaurant beckons. I approach eagerly, under the spell of delicious soups, salads and breads served buffet style.
The restaurant is only scattered with diners. I'm relieved. I grab a tray and start down the assembly line of fresh food. A couple falls in behind me. The man sighs repeatedly as the woman talks about someone's family drama. She is a slender brunette in jeans and a black turtle neck. She selects lettuce and spinach, piling more fresh vegetables atop the mound. The man is heavy-set with broad shoulders and a shaved head. He wears black sweat pants and a plaid flannel shirt. He fills his plate with Caesar's salad and spoons pasta and potato salads onto it. The woman looks at her husband's plate repeatedly as she's talking. We approach the salad dressing bar and the man pours two ladles of blue cheese atop his plate. The woman chooses raspberry vinaigrette:
Woman: Honey, come on. That's too much dressing.
Man: Oh geez. Not today, huh? Let's just enjoy our lunch.
Woman: Well, you wanna lose weight. I'm just trying to support you.
Man: Do me a favor. Don't be so supportive.
Woman: Well. I'm just saying.
Man: Trust me. I know what you're saying.
We pay for our meals and part ways. After cleaning my plate, I head back to the buffet for some delicious fat noodle chicken soup. On my way I pass the bread island. The man is standing in front of a steaming tray of chocolate muffins. He leans forward, then hesitates. He glances around the island toward the dining area. He returns to the muffins, takes one in each hand and walks opposite of the dining room. My bowl of soup and I peak after him around the corner. He and his muffins enter the men's restroom.