DURHAM — After N.C. Central’s first scrimmage of the season, offensive lineman Clevonne Davis walked up to me on the sideline, grinning as he asked me my favorite question.
“Are you hungry?”
That might sound like a strange question, but since talking with Davis at the MEAC’s annual media day weeks earlier about the offensive line’s propensity for raiding chinese buffets, I not-so-jokingly asked if I could tag along to witness the destruction first hand.
My answer to Davis’ question was, as always, yes. Of course I was hungry.
Whether the athletic department forced their hand or they decided to let me crash their dinner out of the kindness of their hearts, I’ll never know, but that afternoon at 4:30 p.m. I was set to meet Davis and his fellow offensive linemen at the Hibachi Grill and Supreme Buffet in the Oak Creek Village shopping center.
As a child raised by United Methodist church potlucks, I’m nowhere near a multi-course meal amateur — but I was pretty certain that I wasn’t nearly as buffet-savvy as my dinner companions.
I’m not an offensive lineman, but at 5-10 with an incredibly healthy appetite, I wanted to show the big boys I could hang. I didn’t want to tap out after the first two courses, so I skipped lunch and hydrated before putting on my loosest-fitting clothes and heading to the buffet.
For only the second time in my life, I was early to dinner and made small talk with the hostess inside.
As I glanced down to check my phone, partly out of habit and mostly out of wanting to appear like I wasn’t on the verge of being stood up, the hostess leapt from behind her stand, shouting and pointing.
“THEY’RE HERE, THEY’RE HERE!”
I’m not sure if her antics were to get my attention or alert the kitchen staff, but as I looked to the parking lot, five of the offensive linemen decked out in a mish-mash of NCCU-logoed shirts and shorts lumbered up to the front door.
Before we were seated, we had to pay $10.99, plus a required 18 percent large-group tip — and we were literally a large group — to receive the golden ticket allowing us access to the buffet.
I grabbed one plate and began loading it with the usual suspects, fried rice, chicken and broccoli — all the good Asian-American staples. Once my first plate was full, I started to head back to the table when I noticed I was the only one of the group with just one plate.
Of course. Why get one plate at a time when you have two hands and can clearly carry two? What a rookie.
Another plate, another lap around the pans of shrimp and egg rolls to get everything I was mentally reserving for round two before finally returning to the table.
Before we began eating, newcomer Tarrance Wells blessed the table with words of encouragement.
“The buffet will take your life, so you've gotta take the buffet," he said.
And just like that, we were off.