Saturday, July 08, 2006

Gluttony, Athletics and Bad Neighbors

competitive eating? Pfeh.
Casson is here.
I asked him if he knew who had won the big nation's Hot Dog showdown. He had no idea. He said that there were other things that he was paying attention to. Things like Wimbleton. Things like world Cup Soccer. He further mused that it was somewhat offensive that the Hot Dog stats were being posted during real sports events on ESPN. He's right, you know. I'll never be on ESPN. I am not an athlete or a competitive eater. Here are the hot dog facts anydamnways:

Takeru Kobayashi of Japan ended the 2006 Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog contest as champion once again, setting a new world record of 53 and 3/4 hot dogs and buns in 12 minutes.
But not with a major challenge from rookie Joey Chestnut of San Jose, CA, who set a new American record of 52 Hot Dogs and buns in 12 minutes.

Chestnut led Kobayashi for the first half of the contest, establishing a two hot dog lead before falling behind the five-time winner from Nagoya. By the 10 minute mark, Chestnut was a dog and half behind and could not mount the comeback necessary to win.

I am not going to give some anti-gluttony rant here. I am not going to question the inevitable return of the vomitorium. But I am going to cite something that I observed a little while ago that shook me to the core. I have to set this up for you that you understand why I would be looking into someone's window at two in the morning.

I watch my neighbors. I watch them hard. I expect them to be watching me as hard as I watch them. When I used to teach, I used to talk about my neighbors to my class. The purpose was to show them how a community works. I think I was linking my gossip to the books TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD or CANNERY ROW or something. It always opened the class discussion for some wonderful exchanges. They would tell about the weird things that they had seen in their neighborhoods, and I got to talk about mine.

I would talk about the guy across the street (no longer there) who smoked so many Marlboros that the tobacco company hooked him up with a free Marlboro telescope, and this guy was always out on his porch, smoking those crappy cigarettes or taking some serious hits from a brass pipe, howling at the moon. One night I went over there and had a few shots of tequila with him. The tequila was just his warm-up though. He really wanted to get stoned with me. I just wasn't feeling it, and went back home.

I would talk about my other neighbors where I have no idea how many people live in the house. I have no idea how many people live in the garage and I have no idea how many people live in a separate section of the garage. At any time there could be 20 people on that property that I have never seen before. It is still like that to this day. Today there was a birthday party there and my son was irritated because they wouldn't tell him who's party was being celebrated. He is curious too.

I called the cops on a domestic dispute across the street. I watched him punch, kick and headbutt her. I called the police and gave a play by play. Freaking cops didn't show up until he had already packed her into his truck and driven off.

The SWAT Team raided the same house during that season. Big guns. Lots of cops. Sheriffs. Detectives. Riot gear. No arrests.

In our backyard we have had two volatile couples living there. One just liked to scream profanities at each other. The other had a guy who threw punches. The cops broke them up a few times. The couple back there right now are rather peaceful, and I am thankful for that. However, homeboy is retentive to the point that when he opens his mouth, you can see his sphincter twitching, and my kids can't stand him.

My big story is that on the other side of my house. One night I heard this woman screaming "Help me!" at the top of her lungs. She was screaming it over and over and the pitch was rising in her voice. Initially, I thought that it was a movie that they were watching in the in-law suite in the backyard, because the screaming was so extreme. I went to the front of the house. The other neighbors had clustered there. I asked around and no one knew what was going on, but they heard the screams. They were still blasting out of the house. I went up the driveway and pounded on the door. I stepped back. I didn't know what to expect, but I was sure it was going to be violent. Then my neighbor opened the door with a beatific smile on his face and asked me if he could help me.
"What's up?" I asked.
"Oh, nothing. Everything is fine." was his response.
"You sure?" I asked.
A woman passed in the background of his house.
"Yes, everything is fine."

I wasn't convinced, and I made a skull note to call the cops if I heard another scream. In retrospect, I should have called the cops in the first place. I went up front, gossiped with the people on the sidewalk and then went inside. Later, as I did the dishes, I saw this neighbor of mine escort a woman out of his house. He opened the passenger door for her politely and she got in. Then he got behind the wheel and drove away. I never saw her again. To this day, my bitchass neighbor won't look me in the eye. I really don't think that I did anything wrong.

How the hell am I supposed to link this up to Nathan's? It is all because of my latest observance. This one has me shook.

The other night, actually it was 2AM in the morning, I was outside milling around (I am telling you, the neighbors should be watching ME) and I saw my neighbor eating, through one of his windows. This man is obese. He is also a smoker. He is one of those heavy people who looks like his skin is tight on him. This isn't that loose fat, this is the stuff that is mixed with some form of muscle and is dense. The way that this guy was eating was insane though. He was packing it down. He was shoving it in, like someone had a gun to his head. He was eating with both hands. He was drinking to wash down the unchewed mouthfuls. He was watching his television while he was doing this. I watched this spectacle for about five minutes, slackjawed. I had never seen anything like it. This man was packing it in like all food in his vicinity was going to disappear and NEVER appear again. It was the most extreme form of power-eating that I have ever seen.

I have struggled with this image for about a week now. I have told my kids about it. I have tried to process it. I simply can't. There is a part of my brain that just cannot understand what it was all about. But I am beginning to get a notion. You see, there is no way that I could do that. There is absolutely no way I could put my body through that. Absolutely no way. It just couldn't happen.

What would I feel like in the morning?
I would be hurting for days after that.
It would change the way I look.
It would shave years off of my life.
Juxtapose that with Wimbleton and World Cup Soccer, and it is the exact same thing. Who says that these guys aren't athletes?
Competitive eating? In some ways, the ridiculousness of my perfoming in Wimbledon or the World Cup is just as clear as if I was to win a hot dog eating contest. These hot doggers aren't athletes, but they are still doing something that I can't and won't do. I will never be on ESPN in any way shape or form. It is all beyond me.

And my neighbor? Homeboy needs to close his windows at night. I am tired of seeing into everyone's trashy life around here.