Sometimes one attempts the strangest things to achieve victory -- Bill "Spaceman" Lee appearing in full uniform, while pitching for the Red Sox, drinking a beer during the 7th inning stretch. That's right, The Spaceman was currently playing in the game and decided he needed to up his hops count at the concession stand at Fenway; The Fans loved it, management not so much. William Hurt's Edward Jessup in "Altered States" takes a tincture of Banisteriopsis caapi root while floating in a sensory deprivation tank to achieve physical and psychological breakthrough.
In the spirit of the strange, I decided to digest only fruit punch for 36 hours prior to my Nathan's hot dog qualifier in Pittsburgh. Planning to dunk my hot dog buns in fruit punch at the ten minute contest, I fathomed that if my body was awash in crimson powdered liquid, my digestive system would assume everything coming down the gullet was fruit punch and the wieners would disappear, leaving only a stain of dayglo red and sugary garlic burps. I was very wrong. I'm pretty sure The Spaceman lost the game while quaffing suds, and Edward Jessup turned into an ape, so perhaps my day and half diet of fruit punch caused biological devolution, not simian, but heading towards the Kool-Aid Man, "Oh yeah."
I between my fourth and fifth dog at the 48 second mark, it was announced that Marcos Owens was on his ninth. At that point an eater chews thoughtfully, hoping that the stomach speed demon will suffer an urge contrary to swallowing (we use euphemism in place of the V(omit) or P(uke) word to avoid the mind-body connection between the two.) When Elvis didn't leave the building, but Marcos finished with 30 hdbs, I was at twenty. I took out what was left in my mouth, leaving the bitter taste of defeat, and self deducted my way to 19.5 hdbs. My fruit punch experience put my consumption into the gerbil/hamster range. The ten minute debacle left me shaken, but having eaten so little, I still had room for a Primanti Brothers sandwich and a few Iron City beers. The sandwiches come loaded with french fries, cole slaw, and one can request double meat. If hemlock was a condiment, I might have ordered it. I have one chance left to qualify for the Nathan's finals on July 4th and the adjectives improbable, unlikely and near impossible come to mind. I've taken the weekend off the pro-eating diet (falling between a horse jockey's pack of peanuts a day and a Sumo wrestler's cauldron of ramen) to decide if I was going to subject my mind and body to weeks of tubesteak preparedness for my next, and last qualifier. Years ago, I had a cameo on "Wife Swap" where pro-eater Badlands Booker was paired with a female professional boxer. The boxer was very much against competitive eating, which befuddled me, since boxing's rules are basically, "punch someone in the head until he or she falls down, preferably unconscious." Over-eating seems a lot healthier than that, but the recent circuit has delivered me a series of body blows, narrowly missing the head shot that would put me down to the canvas. I am fruit punch drunk, wobbly, and against the ropes, but not mathematically out yet. Neither ape nor Spaceman achieved victory through the strange, but it's the only place for me. When the chewing gets tough, the tough get strange. I'll see you on the circuit, "Oh yeah."
Crazy Legs Conti can be reached at www.crazylegsconti.com and is currently looking for fruit punch sponsorship.