Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Five Foot Chili Dog

“Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk.
That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.”
-Ernest Hemingway

While Spain and the Netherlands battled in the World Cup final, there was a different kind of foe stretched out before me: five feet of chili dog.

The room was crowded with people, so I could barely see the game, but the chili laden beast, staring up at me with cheese-filled eyes, was impossible to miss. Beside the monster was a bevy of condiments, toppings, and a stopwatch. Sitting in a small pile and pinned under my phone there was also $215 in cash.

Sometimes, in moments like these, it’s wise to retrace your steps and to consider if bizarre circumstances like these could’ve possibly been avoided.

I have made many bets in my life, both commonplace and unusual, but this was the first time I literally put my money where my mouth is.

When a popular fast-food chain began to offer a foot long chili on its menu, I was immediately intrigued. After eating one, I began to speculate aloud how many more my hungry belly could consume. Sitting at dinner a few days later, I resumed my musings, declaring I could eat five. The gauntlet thrown, a handshake later, and the bet was on. I did some research on the internet and began training, drinking gallons of water a day and eating everything in sight to stretch my stomach. When I breezed through a three dog trial run in nine minutes, I had little doubt about my chance at success. The night before the challenge, I ate half a head of lettuce and a full bag of grapes.

I was so well-prepared, eating the chili dogs was actually somewhat anti-climactic. I cut each one in half and covered it with religiously chopped up onions and sacred jalapeno slices. My only scare came on the final half dog which had become soggy and fallen apart. The wet, chili-soaked bun triggered my gag reflex for a moment and almost got me disqualified for breaking the no puking rule. But I braced myself, piled on more jalapenos, and powered through to the last bite. It took just under 16 minutes and I felt as though I could probably do another two feet if the price was right. I sat back, collected the cash, and nursed a stomach pregnant with a chili dog baby.

It will be a long time before I undertake another eating bet and even longer before I eat another chili dog.

What’s that you say? 25 tacos? Hmmm…how much?