A Sizzler in Hollywood
My people are not Sizzler people. Maybe this is why I have always coveted the place, treating it like an exotic locale with plasticky mac and cheese. We went there once when I was a child (maybe my dad had a coupon?) and I was sold. The idea of unlimited food can deeply warp a child’s brain. But I knew that I was wrong–I had a sort of illness that affects the privileged few whose parents believe in organic food. I resisted Sizzler, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t talk about it. I’ve mentioned it previously on this blog, writing about how I used to torture my mother with my Sizzlerism. For my 28th birthday my boyfriend took me to a Sizzler. I thought it was the sweetest thing. Everyone else was perplexed. After that meal, I thought I was done with Sizzler. I thought there wasn’t anything else noteworthy about the place. Then we moved to Hollywood, right near the Sizzler on Highland Avenue.
This is the Sizzler where they drop off buses of tourists. It seems like an odd destination. What makes it representative of Los Angeles or California? You can go to a Sizzler up and down the West Coast. You can go to the Sizzler in Puerto Rico. But maybe the tourists are perfectly happy when they discover the Endless Salad. The salad bar also includes fried chicken tenders and a taco bar, so you don’t even have to eat vegetables! What could be more American? So, I was annoyed and actively ignoring the place until one day I found myself there, ordering a steak medium rare. I took a seat near the window to wait for my food.
It wasn’t long before a loud, tourist family sat next to me, so they could look out the window at Highland and the passing cars. Or maybe they wanted to look at the Vape store across the street. They had just come from Universal Studios where the ADHD son had acted out in line for a ride, and the dad had grabbed him, causing the mother to get “defensive over him.” She was humongous. She ate her son’s food as well as her own, and even though it seemed like it was too soon for dessert, she went for an ice cream cone. I’m pretty sure it’s part of every meal at Sizzler, but I am a Sizzler novice, and her husband was certain she was stealing the ice cream, and how could she do this in front of their son? The father was very aware of everything that was happening in front of his son. As he described it, this whole trip would be emblazoned on the son’s memory. He acted like this one trip to LA, and yes, even this dinner at the Sizzler, would determine how he was remembered as a father. He told his son that he wanted him to see and do things in Southern California that he himself had never done. He wanted him when he was the ripe old age of forty to remember this trip and say that his father and mother took him to Universal Studios. It seemed like something someone fighting a loosing battle with parenthood would say. “Well, at least I gave him Universal Studios.”
Maybe this was because he and his wife did not appear to be getting along. He accused her of wanting too much out of this vacation, of spending more than they had. The mom and dad bickered incessantly, and the son joined in on his father’s side. “Dad’s got a point.” She ignored him, but later she seemed exasperated with her child, maybe because she was really angry at her husband. But he was an exasperating kid. He talked over everyone and had to be reminded that they were in a restaurant. When he tried to eat parsley, which I thought was one of his better moves of the meal, his mom yanked it away from him, telling him it was for decoration only! It was the only thing green on anyone’s plate, but it was as if the kid had badly embarrassed them, like he’d tried to eat part of the fake floral arrangement on the table. I remembered the time I asked my dad if I could eat the parsley, and he pounced on it, gobbling it up before holding a sprig up for me. I of course refused to eat it.
The father ordered Malibu Chicken, which he explained to his son was invented in a Malibu cafe. It’s a ham and cheese combination melted over chicken. I couldn’t think of anything less Malibu. Such a sad attempt at experiencing local culture. Although what did I think they should see here? Where would I send them? To the Pilates studio? The juice bar? Even our waiter, at the Sizzler, seemed at odds with them. He was a fashionable, attractive gay man who left me mostly alone. When he asked if I wanted garlic bread I laughed in his face, and he looked apologetic, as if to explain he has to ask for the tourists.