Thursday, July 20, 2006

Competitive Eating

I was thinking about this thing I saw on TV a couple of weeks ago – the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest on the 4th of July – or thereabouts.

I’d heard about the thing they do and I’d heard that some Japanese guy was the world champion, but I’d never witnessed the competition before. I was flipping around the TV dial and ran into it and was mesmerized (and disgusted) as I watched the 12-minute process.

The two main competitors were an American and the Japanese guy, Kobayashi. This is now a fucking recognized sport called Competitive Eating. They train to expand their stomach to take in incredible amounts of food and to allow their gullets to ingest the food in a short amount of time. They train for this! Well, when I think about it, I guess they’d have to.

So the contest began. And these people, all in a row on a stage in front of hundreds of cheering maniacs began stuffing dogs and buns and liquid down their throats. They rocked back and forth like a young version of a group of old Jews praying – davening – in the synagogue. The more they rocked and stuffed and stuffed and rocked the more disgusting it was. How, I asked myself, could they do this without choking and dying. I still don’t have an answer to that question.

The world record held by Kobayashi was 53½ hot dogs in 12 minutes. He and the American were neck and neck for a while. Then Kobayashi pulled away. Then the American resurged and caught him. Then Kobayashi pulled away again and won. In the process he broke the record by eating 54 (or 54½ - I forget) and then when it was over spent several minutes coughing and choking (maybe now he’ll die I thought) before getting back to normal – or whatever passes for normal for this guy.

Am I out of touch or what? Or are they? Jesus!!


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