This is the second entry for the Barathon Challenge. I choose the theme around famous books. My first entry was The Fault in our Stares in which I talked about my awkward – because I made it so – interview with a future boss who had a glass eye. Today’s entry, based on the book Life of Pi (except this one is spelt like the pie you eat), revolves around exactly that – pie eating. More precisely, that one time I took part in a pie eating contest.
My best friend at the time had just got a job working for a bakery. I had just moved in with his family (hundreds of miles from my family) to finally try and graduate high school. I thought the fresh start in a fresh city would do me good. Side note – I did graduate and even went to graduation (against my better judgement). Anyways, my best friend was working full-time at this bakery, getting up at 4 in the morning to be there for 5 am to start baking pies and tarts and other things. He was home just after 2 in the afternoon and when I came home from school we’d pretty much do anything other than take responsibility for anything. Technically he was working full time which was pretty responsible and my life revolved around finally getting my ass in gear and graduating so that was pretty responsible … but apart from that, responsibility sucked.
He comes home one day and tells me that on Saturday there would be a pie eating contest and I was entered. His boss actually lived two doors down from us, so I knew him as well, so it took absolutely no convincing to let me enter the competition. It’s amazing what allowing the neighbourhood kids to enter your road hockey games can do for your free food eating aspirations. I highly recommend it. Wait, does anyone still play road hockey? Or actually play any kind of games/sports outdoors now? I mean for fun. Not because you’re on a team and don’t have a choice. Seriously, the last time I went home I saw a grand total of zero kids playing road hockey or out at the local field playing soccer, football, baseball, anything. Kind of depressing really. But there’s an army of 12 year olds waiting to kick my ass if I decide to play my Playstation 4 online! But I digress.
Saturday comes and I’ve starved myself all morning. There’s no point going into this thing with a full stomach. I’m thinking of all the free pie I can eat. And I’ve decided that I can eat a lot of free pie. Hell, I’m 19 years old. I can eat a lot of free anything at age. My best friend Rick is taking part as well – against me. He’s starved himself as well, and having lived with him and known him for over a decade I know he can pack the food away as well.
I have this vision in my head of having my hands behind my back, a chunky pie sitting on the table in front of me, and once the timer goes, I just drop my head and sink my teeth into the middle of it – kind of like the infamous scene in the movie Stand by Me. Yup, that’s what I envision happening. It turns out, I’m partially wrong. I cannot use my hands, but I will be fed pieces of pie by a partner (Rick’s aunt has decided to feed me, Rick’s mum is feeding him). Whoever can eat a whole pie first, while being fed, wins. It’s so simple. I’m already engraving my name on the imaginary trophy. I’m thinking years ahead when I can put “Pie Eating Champion 1990” on my CV and business cards. In short, I’m bathing in my awesomeness already. I’m wondering how many girls will want to date me after this. I’m so psyched up, so ready to eat whatever is thrown at me, I forget one little thing. Not a big thing, but an important thing.
There are 4 of us on our side of the table, each wearing a plastic covering to protect ourselves from any falling pie. I’ve opted for a chocolate cream pie – simple, easy to chew and swallow, and I love chocolate. I’ve asked them to cut it in 6 pieces. Others opt for smaller pieces. I’m not the others. At 19 I am all that is man. I would have eaten the pie without it being cut but it did make feeding me easier I guess.
When the whistle goes, Rick’s aunt grabs the first piece and we work in perfect harmony. I’ve barely got time to imagine spending the imaginary winnings I’m about to profit before she grabs the second piece. Halfway through the second piece I’ve decided that I’m buying champagne at the strip club tonight, even though I don’t like strip clubs and like champagne even less. Second piece down, third one on the way. I glance sideways from my seat at the end. I’m ahead of all of them, although Rick is close behind.
Is that the crowd chanting my name? Did that girl that Rick works with just ask me to sign her boobs when I’m done? Even during a feast, my mind is working overtime. I feel great. My stomach isn’t jumping up and down, my mouth still has moisture in it, and the chocolate isn’t too heavy. This is going way better than expected. I hear Rick’s mum tell him he’s starting his fifth piece as I force the last bits of piece five into my mouth. With a mixture of sucking and chewing, it’s gone and I’m onto my final piece. Victory will be sweeter than this pie.
We’ve all heard the adage “never bit off more than you chew”, correct? Well, this is especially true when someone is holding the piece of pie you’re devouring and is rather keen on all of her fingers remaining attached to her hand and blemish free. On my fourth bite of piece six I decide I really need to go for it, so I open my maw like a reticulated python and somehow inhale more pie towards me. My upper teeth ease through the soft chocolately filling, my lower ones force Rick’s aunt’s fingers towards the incoming doom of my upper teeth, and before she or I realise it, I’ve nearly splintered her phalanges with reckless aplomb. Naturally, she swears, and drops the last quarter of the final piece of pie. She grabs her hand in an instant, blowing on her fingers as if that will make a difference. I stare at her like she has ruined not only my dream, but the dreams of all the impoverished children in the world. They were relying on me winning more than they were relying on Bono to sing songs for them at Christmas.
My dreams smushed like the last remnants of pie on the table in front of me. A minute later, Rick finishes his last bite and wins. I would have been halfway through a second pie before he stumbled across the gluttonal finish line. Somehow I feel more disgraced than Ben Johnson when he lost gold at the Seoul Olympics for being a steroid cheat. I wonder if I can convince anyone that Rick is some kind of drug cheat? A win by disqualification would still sound good in 10 years’ time. Alas, I did not sign any boobs or other body parts.
Later that night at home, to make things worse, Rick decides to show off his winner’s certificate to the girl he likes. I sit in my room in sweatpants wondering just how my dreams died at 19.