Competition; we experience it in all our lives. It shapes us into the people we are. It determines who among us will be the leaders or the followers. Our stations in life, marked by success or failure, are the results of competition. Familiar cliches are born of it, such as 'only the strong survive' and 'survival of the fittest.' Those can be exemplified by virtually any event in human history, whether it is in war, athletics and even knowledge.
This afternoon I witnessed a shining example of the survival of the fittest -- not in an arena of competition -- but at the serving bars of an all-you-eat buffet. On second thought, I suppose it could have been considered a battle of sorts. (Captain Caveman knows this.) When we first arrived at the restaurant, it was 1Pm, still within the so-called lunch hour. Our party of four was just part of nearly twenty who all got there at about the same time. From the safety our chosen booth, we had decided to bide our time and wait out the impending stampede.
Not unlike The Running Of The Bulls in Spain, the thundering hooves we heard were from the feet of the parties who had arrived with us. The spectacle resembled the mass exodus of commuters from a train during rush hour. But this mob wasn't going to work. It was a feeding frenzy! In only moments there was some elbowing, gouging and swearing. Imagining those serving stations as some carcass of a fallen beast, we watched dumbfounded. Were these really fellow homo-sapiens we were observing, or was it a pride of lions tearing into a wildebeest? I wondered if we should leave, hop in our cars and make like Speed Buggy for another place to eat.
To our left, a no-carbs group was packed together at the salad bar like sardines. Those who emerged from the mass of bodies were carrying plates and bowls overflowing with greens, onions and tomatoes. A trail of oils, vinegars and other dressings on the floor marked the path from whence they came. It was just then that a skirmish broke out! Two women were literally fighting over a chafing pan of green beans. "I was here first!" yelled one at the other. "You were not, bitch!" countered the second. "Well, I'm not a fat bitch like you!" the first roared. "Let go!" they said in unison. It seemed like slow motion as we watched the beans take flight before settling all over the floor.
My future son-in-law remarked, "All that over green beans?" I began to laugh and added, "Beans are legumes, right?" The women and he had given me a punch line, as well as a title for a blog. I said, "Leggo my legumes!" We shared the joke for a few minutes more until the rush had abated. The serving tables, nearly stripped bare moments before, were being replenished by the kitchen staff. Space Ghost had come to the rescue.
Finally unchallenged, we advanced upon the feast. Cavalier in our harvest, we had survived not on strength, but with patience and guile. We had our own cliche to put into play: the survival of the smartest. (We would practice that adage later when the challenge would shift to the quest for desserts.)