I need to explain Li’s Buffet, because it’s become this “thing” that my family does.
It started innocently enough:
First, we discovered that our finicky children were happy to eat at Li’s Buffet because they have french fries and ice cream. Finally, a restaurant we could go to as a family that didn’t involve a toy coming with our meal! And instead of eating greasy french fries and chicken nuggets, they could eat greasy french fries and…uh…ice cream.
Second, I started using Facebook again. The first time I used Facebook, I didn’t understand it and only posted boring posts. I lost interest and ignored it for a year. When I started back up, I determined to present only my silly side in my posts, which, disturbingly, has proved to be all too easy.
Third, I started learning about photography and subjecting my friends to incessant picture taking.
These three events brewed the Perfect Storm. Here’s what happened:
We ate at Li’s Buffet once a week. Reasonable, no? I’d snap a picture of us at Li’s and post it on Facebook with riveting comments like, “Eating at Li’s Buffet!”
Friends started noticing that we like Li’s and when we’d make dinner plans, they would suggest, “Let’s go to Li’s.” I’d take their picture and post it on Facebook.
More friends, after being exposed to the barrage of Li’s Buffet pictures on Facebook, started being curious about Li’s Buffet. They would post comments like, “Drove past Li’s Buffet and thought of you.”
Soon, they weren’t content to merely drive past Li’s. They started going into Li’s.
The first group of friends who did this happened to show up for their first time at Li’s and we were there. They were thrilled. With bright eyes they gushed, “You’re here! We talked in the car on the way over saying, ‘Wouldn’t it funny if we showed up at Li’s and the Dustylizards were there’, and here you are!” It was like going on a tour of the White House, bumping into the president and him saying, “Eh, come on in and eat dinner with the family.”
They went right home and posted about it on Facebook, “We went to Li’s today and guess what?! The Dustylizards were there!!!”
And now it was a challenge. Other friends came to Li’s both to sate their curiosity and, with luck, to catch us at Li’s. One friend took her children to Li’s. On the drive to the restaurant the children asked, “Will Ms. Dustylizard be there?” in their sweet, piping voices. She warned them not to get their hopes up, but when they arrived, we were there! The way those children looked at me, I felt like Mary Poppins*.
My husband’s trying to find a way to make some money off of this. His plan is to put the picture I take of the friend at Li’s on personalized t-shirts with the caption, “I ate at Li’s Buffet with the Dustylizards!” and charge for them.
There are perks to being a known regular at a restaurant. For one thing, we get a lot of free meals with our “buy 9 get the 10th free” punch card. And for Christmas this year, friends gave us $75 in gift cards (already gone), and 12 sets of chopsticks (reusable).
And then there are the extra perks that we get from Li’s buffet itself.
But I won’t tell you about those, because then you’d be jealous.
* (Speaking of Mary Poppins, go watch this video.)