I am a creature of habit. Most humans are. It’s what makes us predictable and why marketers have a fairly easy job. The consistent behavior of the buying public allows an experienced sales guy to have an advantage over the shopper, whether it be shoes or cars.

Those ingrained habits can be good things or bad things, depending on how we use them. Aristotle is reputed to have said that we are what we do regularly — to do is to be as it were. The culture and development of good habits is not always easy. It is hoped that we learn them from our parents and family, but often as not, we learn bad habits along with the good.

One of the good habits that I learned as a kid was to brush my teeth twice daily. It’s one of the hard-wired behaviors that makes me uncomfortable if I don’t do it. On the other hand, I learned that pasta is good and vegetables are not. I was reminded of this over the weekend as I went to a party for a friend at Buca di Beppo on Second Street. I’d never been there before, but I know I’ll be back. The restaurant is like walking into my “Guido Family Photo Album.”

The warmth of the environment, the crazy patchwork of old photos, and the kitsch décor all make for a fun and lively event. I was there with 12 other men celebrating a birthday for a buddy. Picture this: Long table, 13 hungry men, one waiter. The manager comes over and suggests that we do a party platter deal. In the ways of men, there is one guy who asks, “What’s that mean?” The manager rattles off a menu of three salad types, two pastas and chicken parmigiana for 13. There is a murmur of three guys who say, “Sounds good,” and the decision was made. Easy peasy.

About 2 minutes later a line of waitstaff is carrying barrels of salad to the table and the gorging begins. It was a truly spectacular sight, 13 guys all being quite loud but very polite, for we are all, sadly, mature adults at this point as these giant salad bowls are being passed like some crazed rock fan surfing the audience at a concert. It reminded me of the Thanksgiving dinners at my cousin’s house when I was a boy.

Then the bathtubs of pasta arrive. I exaggerate, but only a little. These were giant bowls of fettuccine alfredo and penne in marinara sauce. The aircraft carriers of chicken parmigiana followed. It was an awesome display of Italian American overindulgence. Just like when I was a kid. My mom would have been proud.

When the manager came over I told him we needed about five more guys to eat all this, and he said, with typical Italian family flair, “I didn’t want you guys to not have enough.” I swear I saw the ghost of my Aunt Lil in the corner.

I indulged in my bad habit of overeating, and there was little excuse for it, except that, even with 13 full grown men at the table, there were significant leftovers for some of the guys to take home and give to their kids. It was a great event. I like being part of a group of guys that come together to celebrate for each other. My blood family has dispersed, but this reminded me of those times, and made good memories for my new family of friends.

The event was wonderful, we had brought a birthday cake for our buddy, and the staff accommodated our needs graciously. As I was wandering around the restaurant, with its divided rooms for parties, I came across the Pope John Paul in a Box. Which caused gales of laughter and the need for another event to be held there so we can eat with the pope.

Arrivederci Buca.

David Pisarra is a family law attorney focusing on father’s rights and men’s Issues in the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He can be reached at dpisarra@pisarra.com or (310) 664-9969.

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