It is Memorial Day Eve, around 10 PM. I cut up a watermelon earlier and just had a bowl. It was good. So good, in fact, that I was hell bent on eating the whole melon tonight. But, the dogs saved me by needing to go out. While I was outside I reminded myself, “Man, you are almost 47! You can’t eat a whole watermelon at 10 PM, you idiot!” Of course, I didn’t eat the rest of the watermelon. But, let me tell you, there was a time…
I know this will surprise no one who has ever seen me, but I used to be able to throw down some food. Biblical proportions. Some of my buddies and me were know to make buffet line proprietors cringe at the sight of us. If there was an All-You-Can-Eat, we Ate-All-We-Could and then some. I know some can relate to the late night mega-bag of Tostitos Nachos Cheese Rounds and a 2 liter of pop or a frozen pizza sandwich (two frozen pizzas cooked and stacked) on the way home from the bars. But tonight, three eating feats from my youth seeped from the memory banks after I made the decision NOT to eat an entire watermelon.
1. Watermelon Eating Champion
I was lucky enough to have three great men as grandpa figures in my life, Thomas Hays, Clarence Bosley and Boz’s best friend, “Uncle” Charlie Lewis. At family gatherings around dusk, Grandpa Bosley and Uncle Charlie would break out the monster watermelon for us tribe of kids for a watermelon eating contest. Of course, we kids would gather around the two, while they held butcher knives in one hand and a beer in the other as they told story upon story. Finally, they would cut the watermelon in slices, then cut each slice in half. The kids would all line up for a piece, then the eating would begin. I loved those two old guys to no end and would have run through a brick wall to please them. Eating watermelon as fast and as furious as I could was easy. More often than not, I won these contests on both speed and sheer amount of watermelon put away. My trick was to eat the whole thing, seeds and all, right down to the rind. No time wasted spitting out seeds. Clean as a whistle. It was the perfect plan. I can still see the smiles on Grandpa and Charlie’s faces watching us kids eating watermelon like fiends.
2. Lettuce Pray
We used to all pitch in after dinner and do the dishes. Put stuff away, scrape, rinse and load the dishwasher. Normal stuff. One night, when I was in high school, I had a clean-up challenge from my older sister. We had lettuce salad for dinner A LOT back then. This wasn’t modern day mixed greens in a bag salad, either. This was old school chopped head of lettuce, roughage lettuce, not health food type of lettuce. Lettuce, of which there was only one kind sold in the early 1980’s at the grocery store lettuce. As I said, we had it A LOT, so there was not very much eaten at this particular meal. Sister and I are doing the dishes. She picks up the almost completely full lettuce bowl and starts to put it away. She gets that evil older sister look on her face, then challenges me to eat the whole bowl at once. Meaning, I have to stick the whole bowl of chopped lettuce in my mouth. Long story short, despite breaking several laws of physics, the feat was accomplished with just a slight ass chewing from parents. Well worth it.
3. 23 Tacos
That number pretty much says it right there, 23. My oldest brother likes to add a few details when he recounts the events, these were old fashioned fry your own tortilla shells in hot oil tacos and Mom had to stand there and cook tacos shell after taco shell. I might also add for the peanut gallery I was not the only one at the dinner table, but Dad and four siblings also ate that fateful Saturday night, so Mom did a heck of a lot of cooking that night above and beyond the 23 I ate. Looking back, I don’t remember even feeling bad. In fact, I probably went out that night with my buddies not long after cleaning up dinner.