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Posted: November 13, 2009 12:00 a.m.

Pecan Pie for the Mind: The end of manners

I think I have good manners. I say "yes, ma'am," I hold the door for old people, I don't spit on sidewalks, and I don't talk during movies. That's just rude, and I've been raised to be polite. In general, I'm well-mannered. But, there's one place where my manners go out the window. If you see me at an all-you-can-eat buffet, and they're serving snow crab legs, you should expect me to be on my worst behavior.

I know it's silly, forgetting my manners over a few spindly crab legs, but I can't help it. I don't go crazy over congealed salads or green beans. I only lose my senses when it comes to snow crab legs, and I know why.

While the menus say "all you can eat" what they really should say is "all you can fight for and grab." Snow crab is expensive, and the all-you-can-eateries must trickle out the legs or go broke. And there's the problem. How can I be polite when I'm in a feeding frenzy? The answer is simple: It's not possible.

If you see me dining, you'll think you're watching a nature show. There'll always be a few of us alpha-eaters hovering near the kitchen. We feign interest in the ten-bean salad, but we're really watching for a fresh bowl of snow crab legs. As soon as we see the arrival of fresh meat, the smarter of us will grab a set of the metal tongs you're supposed to use to get your hot legs.

Now, possession of tongs doesn't always mean you'll get any crab legs. Since this is The South, and most of us have all our fingers, folks just reach into the bowl for the crab legs. But, tongs are made of metal, and fingers are made of flesh. Guess who backs off first? Like I said, it's ugly and it's brutal, but it's all about supply and demand.

As selfish as we sound, we alphas do share. After the "Got Tongs" (as we call ourselves in private) fill our plates, we allow the lesser "No Tongs" to feed. It's positively primitive, but it's the law of the jungle. OK maybe it's just the law of the all-you-can-eat buffet on snow crab night. Either way, don't expect me to say "yes, ma'am" on crab night, and please watch out for my tongs. You might need those fingers some day.

David McCoy, a notorious storyteller and proud Yellow Jacket, lives in Conyers, can be reached at davmccoy@bellsouth.net.


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