July 10, 2014: A day that will live in unfortunate food-related infamy.
Hey gang, Patrick
for the uninitiated). Before we dive into this here column, I’d like to provide a not-so-brief preface.
Like many days, today I was plagued by the dilemma of where to eat lunch.
I usually try to eat healthy, if I can help it. Yesterday, for instance, I had a leftover chicken breast, a baked potato and some corn on the cob. Pretty good stuff! However, some days call for a stray from the norm, and as I was fresh out of leftovers, I was reliant on the options that Gainesville, FL has to offer.
For some inspiration, I messaged some friends in a group text, asking for suggestions on where I should dig in. The first response I received, nearly immediately after asking, was "Cici’s."
Now, I know what you're wondering. "What is Cici’s?" I’m glad you ask, Internet. Cici’s is a fast-food buffet style pizza place. It is truly wonderful. I decided I would gladly take my friend up on his suggestion. Furthermore, I decided this would be my last time indulging in Cici’s. To provide some context, I will be moving in about three weeks from the time of this article to the great state of South Carolina to attend law school. Now, before you hit up the comments with suggestions like "Phaynes, I’m sure there are pizza buffets in South Carolina," I would like you to know two things:
1. I have never eaten at a pizza buffet prior to living in Gainesville. In the two-and-a-half years that I have lived in this small town, I have grown to love it. It is possibly my favorite place that I have spent any time in [ed. note: yr welcome, Phaynes]
. I wanted Cici’s to be a special memory: my "happy place" in Gainesville, if you will. So I decided I will not ever eat at another pizza buffet again, unless I am in Gainesville.
2. Fuck you.
Since this would be a monumental occasion, I decided this couldn’t be like any other Cici’s excursion. I had to go out with a bang. My normal Cici’s trip consists of two plates of about seven slices of pizza each, a plate of salad (I am a healthy eater), and a dessert if I am feeling randy. This simply would not suffice. I set out a goal for myself. I had to eat four plates of seven slices each, as well as a full dessert plate. Double my usual intake. I told my friends I was considering doing this, and that I would probably write something incredibly dumb and maybe slightly funny about my endeavor. The great pal that he is, Thomas Nassiff encouraged this and stated he would find a home for it if I did so. What a great bud!
Now without further ado, let’s get onto the tragedy:
Contents: Two slices of pepperoni, two slices of meat-lovers, one slice of spinach, one slice of cheese, one slice of Canadian bacon
Alrighty. This was great stuff. I’m sure you’re curious why I selected a slice with spinach. I’m sure you are thinking, "There’s no way that this Cici’s place serves actual pizza, what the hell are you doing, idiot?" Well, as I previously stated, I am a healthy eater, so of course I am going to get the slice with the most vegetables. Other than that, this was a fairly standard introductory plate. I made good time too!
I should also state that I accompanied these slices with a large bowl of Cici’s Marinara Sauce™. At most pizza joints, I feel like it’s fairly typical to overhear someone waxing on about the crust, and how it is likely the best part of the pizza. This is not the case at Cici’s. The crust as Cici's is indigestible cardboard at best. So the "marinara sauce" really becomes essential if you're going to eat every bite on your plate.
My father is a military man, having served in the Gulf War, the Iraq War, and on the Korean border. I’m not trying to compare my service devouring pizza with his serving our country. But growing up with him did instill a sense deep in me that I need to finish what I set out to do. I was going to eat the crust. Dipping it in the marinara (really just ketchup with some oregano thrown in because fuck it) was my game-plan.
Contents: Two slices of buffalo chicken, two slices of macaroni and cheese, one slice of meat-lovers, one slice of cheese, one slice of sausage
Plate two brought great news! They had a plate of the buffalo chicken pizza available!! Y’all, this stuff is the crown jewel of the Cici’s empire. It is what every middle-school field trip flocks into Cici’s hallowed doors for. I love it.
And, like all things, there was bad news to balance out the good. While the macaroni pizza is possibly the most popular option at Cici’s, as it’s a bit of a ~*quirky*~ stray from the norm, it is also a death trap for anyone trying to eat 28 slices of pizza in one sitting. It's far too heavy. But being the American man I am, my hubris got the best of me. I grabbed two slices.
All in all, this plate was not bad either. I was still making good time and the pain was only just beginning to circle around in my stomach. This goal could still be achieved.
Contents: Two Canadian bacon slices, one buffalo chicken slice, one meat-lovers slice, one flatbread cheese slice, one sausage slice, ONE SPECIAL SLICE!!!!
Oh my god.
In my two-and-a-half years in Gainesville, I have maybe attended Cici’s Pizza a dozen times. Not a single time
has there been a slice that wasn’t also there the first time I ate at the establishment. The rotation is fairly basic: You have your normal meats, the spinach, and the occasional taco/BBQ/buffalo/mac’n'cheese pie thrown in for those that like to get weird.
THERE WAS A NEW SLICE THIS TIME!!!!! It was simply meant to be, on this, my final Cici’s outing. It was what I can only describe as "bacon, cheddar, and special sauce." It was a Big Mac on pizza, y’all. And boy was it darn good.
Normally this would be enough to keep me happy for the rest of the day. But these were not normal circumstances. After the third plate, I immediately began to feel queasy and light-headed. I needed a shot of insulin, but unfortunately, that was not at my disposal. All I had was the Cici’s bathroom.
I’m sure there are some circles of people that frown upon folks who use public restrooms. Furthermore, there are probably circles of people that think it’s naughty to use one IN THE MIDDLE OF YOUR MEAL to make room for more food. I belong to no such circles. Boy, did I ever use that bathroom.
Contents: One buffalo slice, one pepperoni slice w/"zesty" sauce, one Big Mac™ slice, one sausage slice, one cheese slice
Ahh hell, this really sucks. Contrary to scientific thought, as well as the teachings of our parents, it is not smart to eat what your body needs for sustenance. Nor is it correct to eat until you are full. You are supposed to eat until the shame begins to waft from your body, affecting all those around you. It’s your American duty, right on up there with paying your taxes. I did just that today.
When I returned to my table with this plate, a pre-teen boy and what I can only assume to be his mother/aunt/grandmother/whatever began staring at me with abject hatred. Their eye contact might as well have said “Oh dear, you are a real piece of shit, aren’t you.” Well, who is the one going to law school and only eating here to blog about it on a website that covers music? Me. Suckers.
I’m sure you are curious what the “zesty” sauce I mentioned is. Well, I’ll tell ya! It is ranch. I asked them if it was ranch, because it looked like it was ranch. They told me it was “zesty” sauce. It is ranch. I have never been more certain of anything in my life.
Also, I’m sure you can count and are realizing, hey!, this is only 26 slices. What gives? Well, what gives is my stomach, because I am a complete failure. I could only do so much, guys. All in all, I am pretty proud of 26 slices, and I bet my dad is, too. So again: fuck you.
Contents: one brownie, one bavarian slice, one cinnamon apple slice, one cinnamon roll
Now, I usually limit myself to one dessert option per visit, as I am a healthy eater. But today was my “cheat” day, as I’m sure you have come to notice. So I decided I would eat every dessert Cici’s has to offer.
I am the worst.
At the current moment, it has been six hours since I embarked on my journey. This has been my reflection period. I’m going to level with you: my memory of the last six hours isn’t the best. There was a two-hour window of haziness where I’m not entirely sure what happened.
In the popular novel known as The Fault In Our Stars
, which really is just a lovely book, there is one line in particular that stuck with me. One of the more enigmatic characters states in his book-within-a-book: "That's the thing about pain. It demands to be felt." Well, ya hit the nail on the damn head, Peter Van Houten! Boy, did I feel it.
This outing did not occur on a day where I could go home and hibernate after my debauchery. This happened during my one-hour lunch break. I WENT BACK TO WORK AFTER ALL THAT. But “work," I did not. I’m fairly certain that I fell asleep. Like full on, “I can’t move," sleep. Upon waking, I violently “made flowers” in the restroom. Three separate times. This is the dedication I give to you, Internet.
So, in conclusion, Cici’s is really a great place. I will cherish my memories of it while I am in South Carolina, doing whatever it is South Carolina residents do. I assume this solely means being horribly ignorant about BBQ.
I hope you enjoyed this column. I sure did! I also hope you will continue to read future installments, which will likely fill you with a similar sensation of utter disgust. Have a great weekend and don’t listen to Modern Baseball!
Total Slices Eaten: 26
Total Desserts Eaten: 4
Total Glasses of Water: 3 1/2
Total Carbs Consumed: 2,000,000,000,000
Total Dignity Remaining: -∞