Thursday, May 13, 2004

A Visit to Phat Camp, I mean Fat Camp

Not too long ago I ordered a pizza. I know, shocking news to many of you that know my diet. To my surprise there was a flyer for a pizza-eating contest that weekend. Now besides a contest for tallest person that can’t dunk, I figure this competition that was made for me. I managed to draw my roommates to the event as spectators. Yes, spectators. Gluttony is not just an individual activity anymore.

Now when I signed up for this I had to be one of the first fifty people to call. I ripped that flyer off the box and called like I was the last future fatty wanting to chomp my way to infamy. “Hi, yeah I am just calling to see if there is still space available to be in the contest. Is there room?” Just for a visual effect imagine a six foot five inch guy hovering over the phone just waiting for his big break to becoming an official loser. Believe it or not, there was still space available on the list, phew.

I get to the venue/carryout parking lot and sign in. Apparently my competition is not as large as originally thought. There was speculation that I would be a contender that lost to either a 300-pound man or a 100-pound Asian girl. That was not the case this time.

For those youth sympathizers you should be pleased and worried that there in fact was an “under 12” division. Parents actually brought there eleven, ten, eight, six and even four year olds to compete in this event. I don’t know if I ever have witnessed one specific event that can cause such a psychological complex like urging a little four-year-old girl to “eat as much as you can sweetie.”

Two rows ahead of little Suzy, there was Peter and Omar. These two kids were almost as entertaining as their parents. See these boys were at the age where they can actually hold onto a piece of pizza, sorry Suzy. Omar’s dad was chanting at him to eat as much as he can before the sunsets. Dad was reminding him, “free pizza for a year, chew, chew swallow.” Apparently the father did not have a large enough opportunity to heckle his own son in little league. Li’l Omar brought home the title of junior pizza king of the Washington area. Moments like that should keep us all striving for parental acceptance.

Now by the time the heavy weights came to rumble, my roommates were persuaded to compete. A major reason for this was when the store manager told us “I need all of you to play. I don’t care if you win. Just beat Habib. He has been here for two hours and keeps demanding a chair. Really, you have to beat him, please.”

Let me introduce you to Habib (no joke it was his name). He was about sixty years old, gray hair, big frame glasses with the librarian rope around his neck, maroon pants, and a blue-gray shirt. If that doesn’t paint a picture, let me give the rest. Habib has a brown tie that stops a third short of the belt buckle. In his ears he had orange earplugs as to muffle the words people said when they commented on the two overflowing suitcases he carried every step he walked. It is very possible that he is the quintessential grand opening contestant that goes from contest to contest scavenging on whatever is free.

When the whistled blew I had three minutes to eat as much cheese pizza I could. The first minute I was nearly choking due to Habib sitting down with six cokes and opening three immediately to wash the pizza down. My roommates then turn on me and demand me to eat faster, I quickly reminded them that I was sober I could not eat just cheese pizza so quickly.

The end tally had me at four pieces in three minutes, which is respectable in some bloated circles around the globe. It turns out that my roommate actually won. He tied this portly man that could floss with a drinking straw. The title was shared because both chose to not go for an “eat off.” I totally understand, don’t want people thinking you’re a pig (which my roommate is definitely not). Two champions were named, the title belt under joint custody with elastic band.

In a world where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, this stayed true here. Everyone got to walk home with their pizza that was left over and also one free pizza voucher. So the losers kept slim with a pizza, and the winner stays another diet coke away from Atkins by getting twenty-six pizzas.

When it comes to free food in the American society there is no happy medium, just an extra large with a side of wings.

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