When I was a kid, it was common among the Mid-Cities crowd to head to Sizzler's after church for the all-you-can-eat buffet. A Shangri-La of gluttonous children, the all-you-can-eat buffet offered unending supplies of nacho cheese, fountain drinks, and -- most dazzling of all -- soft-serve ice cream.
It would be hard to exaggerate the wonder of neverending ice cream at the all-you-can-eat buffet.
(It wasn't until years later that I came to hate buffet restaurants as distressing mazes of mirrors always promising better food over the horizon. Looking back, this hatred can safely be traced to three sources: (1) at some point in the growing process I lost most of my brain/world coordination and started to run into walls, especially mirrored walls; (2) in high school I visited college cafeterias; and, (3) also during the high school era, I ate at a sketchy Mississippi buffet called the Picadilly, which offered a series of buffet packages named for their ever decreasing splendor -- something like the Superdilly, the Regulardilly, and the Lousydilly. I don't know if the worst part was the long list of dos and don'ts [e.g., "Git yer mitts off the BBQ! It's not on the Lousydilly!"] or the food poisoning afterwards.)
Then we stopped going to Sizzler's on Sundays, and the exhilaration of the eternal softserve faded into memory.
While I was gone this summer, my family discovered the amazingness that is Yogurtland, a store filled with maybe a dozen separate softserve server-thingies that you can operate ALL BY YOURSELF and get AS MUCH AS YOU WANT before having the whole thing weighed for payment.
The adult in me saw the business sense in the whole idea of capitalizing off eyes that are bigger than stomachs.
But the child in me was transported right back to the ice cream Shangri-La.
I know this because, although I've only been there once, I keep having dreams about Yogurtland. Dreams about flavors, about toppings, about the delightful feeling of going back for just a little bit more.
After a few of these dreams I started to wonder if maybe they meant something. Maybe the many choices in ice cream represent all the choices I have to make in life.
But, on further reflection, I'm pretty sure it's not. I think it's still about the wonder of neverending ice cream.