For the love of salad bars.

Why can’t I quit you?

Dear Salad Bar,

Why is it when I see your long table of glistening lettuce, cubed meats and shredded vegetables my heart skips a beat?

Is it the teenage girl in me who has never grown up and who has never moved past the glorious idea that one can put as much crumbled egg, bac’n bits and macaroni salad as they can possibly fit into their mouth?

Or is it my working class roots that cause such palpitations? Will I never shed the fundamental idea that unlimited soft serve ice cream at the end of a meal equates to the finest of dining experiences?

Or maybe a primal urge is kick-started by the sight of you. Does my hunter-gatherer DNA come alive and go “Holy shit! Look at all that food I can hunt-gather in one place!”?

Whatever the reason is, I do not question it. Just like I don’t question how long your tantalizing offerings have been sitting out on the bar. No amount of congealing can keep me away from you.

I’m also a fan of your big brother, the All-You-Can-Eat Buffet. Words such as “Ponderosa,” “Golden Corral” and “Sizzler” make my ears perk like that of a ravenous dog. But I don’t hear these words much anymore. You see, Salad Bar and Buffet, my adult friends don’t seek you out. I myself and am conflicted: As a grown woman who tries to eat well, your offerings don’t always agree with my gut or my dignity.

However, I just can’t quit you. The struggle is real.

Whenever I find myself at an airport, or a hotel or on the road, you whisper to me: “Hey, Lauren, over here. Remember me? It’s your old friend, Salad Bar. I’m here with our good friend Creamy Italian Dressing.”

“I’m here!” I answer. “I’m coming! I dream of you often, friend!”

And then we spend the night together, me blissfully cradled in your vinyl seats, and you satiating my appetite with questionable food by-products and soup.

Just you and me, Salad Bar. Just you and me.