Jon Dawson: Local man in critical condition after buffet visit

Photo by Naim Benjelloun on

Last week I asked The Wife what she’d like to do for Valentine’s Day. I knew what the answer would be, but I asked nonetheless.

“You know I don’t buy into Valentine’s Day,” she said. “Having the greatest husband a woman could ask for is gift enough.”

I’ll tell you right now I don’t appreciate the snickering that the previous line generated. I hope all of you who laughed lose your car keys in a storm drain tomorrow.

Eventually, The Wife had a change of heart and allowed me to take her and our Tax Deductions out to eat. After a decision was reached to go out, the real challenge lay ahead: Where to go?

I realize men have their idiosyncrasies (drinking out of milk containers, wearing knee-high black socks with shorts in public, getting more emotional over a televised sporting event than the birth of a child), but it takes women eons to choose a restaurant. If you happen to work in an office predominantly populated with women, you can see the leaves change color while waiting for them to pick a restaurant.

Avoid the box store blues with a visit to Blizzard Building Supply at 405 Walston Avenue, Kinston.

The Wife knows how indecision over restaurants distresses me so I’m happy to report a decision was reached in under two minutes. We generally try to eat fairly healthy meals, but for this special occasion, we decided on a restaurant with a legendary southern comfort food buffet. Since good buffets aren’t (and shouldn’t be) cheap, I advised the kids to load up as this would be the only meal they’d be having for several days.

According to their website the restaurant opened at 11 a.m., so we decided we’d arrive just as they were opening to avoid the crowd. It was now 8 a.m., and just as I was turning over to enjoy another nap before a week of getting up at 6 a.m. my phone rang. It was a friend of mine who was already begging “please, please, please” before I answered the phone.

“I need a big, big favor,” he said. “My brother is visiting this weekend and I’m an hour away in Raleigh picking up someone at the airport. Since I had to leave early I didn’t wake my brother, but I forgot that you can’t unlock any of the deadbolts in my house without a key.”

In short, the man had trapped his brother in a house with a refrigerator containing only a box of baking soda and a bottle of ketchup that went out of date during the Reagan administration.

“Since you have a key do you mind rescuing him for me?” he said.

“Yeah, I’ll be right over,” I said.

When I arrived at the house the fire department was just pulling away. My friend’s brother tried to climb out of the kitchen window, but in doing so he set off the burglar alarm. The noise from the alarm scared him, which cause him to twist violently, which in turn caused him to kick the faucet off of the kitchen sink. The high-pitched screeh of the burglar alarm cranked up every dog within a quarter-mile, many of whom ran to the house and attacked the half of the man that was sticking out of the window.

With dogs attacking one half of his body and a busted sink throttling the other half with a volcanic thrust of water, my friend’s brother had to make a choice. Would he freak out and lose his dignity or accept his situation as a challenge to rise above? Yeah, he went with the freakout/loss of dignity combo. The responding officer said he hadn’t heard screaming like that since the time he worked security at a New Kids On The Block concert in 1988.

“The tape they were lip-syncing to malfunctioned in the middle of the first song,” the officer said. “They were forced to perform the rest of the show with their own voices. It sounded like five tea kettles whistling out of tune for an hour.”

Bannister’s Fine Gifts is located at 106 West Railroad Street in La Grange.

Once home we loaded up the car and went out to eat. We arrived at the restaurant at 11 a.m. as planned, but apparently, they opened early for Valentine’s Day. The parking lot was nearly full and people were packed in the lobby as if Sinatra was about to go onstage. Just when I was thinking a pre-packaged turkey sandwich and a Yoo-Hoo from a gas station would hit the spot, we were waved in.

As it turns out, most of the people waiting in the lobby were a party of 20 that showed up without a reservation. I don’t know what causes adults in large groups to show up at restaurants and be surprised when they find out it might take a few minutes to get a 20-top together. These are the same people who take up two parking spaces, chew with their mouths open, and don’t give a ‘thank you’ wave when you let them into traffic.

The food was fantastic, and hearing the rude people in the lobby complain about having to wait made it taste even better. A member of our family may or may not have strolled really close to the lobby so the party of Rude could get a whiff of the fried chicken and barbecue we were about to receive. And the biscuits…sweet baked lard the biscuits. This restaurant was so on the ball a building crammed full of southerners couldn’t even find anything wrong with the collards.

I was grateful we were able to have a pleasant dining experience as a family. We were home by 12:30 p.m. and I decided to lay down on the couch for a few minutes before writing my column. Unfortunately, that nap lasted until around noon the following Monday. The Wife wrapped me in a rain poncho to protect me from my own drool.

Unbeknownst to me the fried chicken, barbecue, and biscuits caused me to experience postprandial somnolence – more commonly known in our area as “the itis.” After eating grilled chicken, fruits, vegetables, and wheat bread all week, my body experienced a state of manic euphoria upon ingesting a large quantity of traditional southern food and decided to shut down in order to properly savor what had been ingested.

Even as I type this I’m still a bit woozy from the banana pudding. For the next five days, I’ll get back on the wagon, focusing on salads and whole grains. But I’ll always know the itis is only a buffet away.

Jon Dawson’s books and exercise videos are available at

The Bryan Hanks Show airs on 960-AM in Kinston, and daily at 7 a.m. & 3 p.m. It also airs on the suite of stations in New Bern and Greenville (107.5-FM) at 6 p.m. Archived shows are available at

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