Ever eaten a giant flippin’ burger for no reason other than it was there and your stomach was growly? Of course not; most people that do something so ridiculous prepare in advance. The fat dude from Man vs. Food probably goes weeks without eating much more than a nibble or two before shoveling pounds upon pounds of num-nums into his maw.
Me? I went a whole morning. Close enough, right?
I mean yeah, I didn’t do this in preparation for anything. Probably I just forgot to have breakfast. But when I went out to lunch with my son, and saw the creatively-titled 2-Pound Burger Challenge on the menu, I knew I had to Mean Mr. Logic to shut the Hell up and just go for it. It was time my son got an up-close and personal lesson in manliness, and the art of challenge tackling.
Now true, I didn’t go into the restaurant intent on teaching him about life. And yeah, I kinda failed the challenge, if you strictly adhere to bondages such as “truth” and “literal definition of the word.” Because I may not have finished the thing, but so much was gained from the experience that it almost doesn’t matter. In fact, it totally doesn’t. Trust me on this.
So I ordered the thing, and the waiter asked me if I was sure. Then if I was sure I was sure. Then if I was sure if I was sure if I was sure. Clearly, he was helping me along by making me wait longer and get hungrier. While I appreciated the gesture, I wanted to go dammit! So yes, I was sure I was sure I was sure I was sure I was sure. Then the guy gently pointed out to me that nobody had ever completed this burger before, so if I did, I would have the sole picture on their Wall Of Fame. The only guy up against a wall? That sounds like grade school all over again! Since I’m such a sucker for nostalgia (I write for the Internet; I kinda have to be,) this only whetted my appetite further.
Besides, a mere two pounds? That actually sounded doable! Sure, if it were five pounds or something crazy like that, then forget it. None of this would have ever happened. I may be dumb, but I’m not stupid. But two pounds sounded reasonable enough for me to rush into battle. Bring it on!
As it turned out, apparently I am stupid. I truly didn’t think two pounds of meat would look like this. But here it was, just glaring at me: four half-pound patties, lettuce, tomatoes, lots of bacon, several slices of cheese, and three giant buns. That in itself would be a rough challenge, but look around the burger. A pound of fries, a pound of onion rings, and a bowl of cole slaw, all just begging (and required) to be eaten.
I may have come into this thing with no plan, but I needed to form one fast. Luckily, I had eaten nothing all day, so my stomach was primed for mass stuffing. In addition, I quickly made a conscious decision not to drink any water beforehand, lest I fill up on that. Also, since there were no condiments on the burger, I decided to keep it that way. Any unnecessary fillers were banned from my mouth. Also, I worked as fast as possible, lest my brain get wind of what I was doing and pitch a massive hissy fit. I removed the top half of the burger and started wolfing it down. Within ten minutes, it was gone, and I was feeling confident. I was so confident in fact, that I took a quick breather and drank some water, while preparing my jaw muscles for Pointlessly Large Burger Part II.
Big mistake. Those precious few seconds I stopped to catch my breath were enough time for my brain to catch up, find out what I was doing, and openly rebel. Like an angry parent chastising their child for going potty in the dishwasher, my brain screamed at me for being a total moron, and it forced me to sit behind the dreaded Food Wall and think about what I’d done.
In case you hadn’t heard that term before, “food wall” is what happens when you can’t eat one more stinkin’ morsel of chow, or you’ll explode. I had hit that wall, and my brain was all-too-happy to remind me of this, over and over again. But I still had a ways to go, so I politely told my brain to go screw. I had meat to swallow, dammit.
So, as my son looked in with great admiration, or “amusement,” if you still want to be technical, I grabbed the second half of the burger and started chomping anew. Eventually, the burger was whittled down to virtually nothing and, if that was all I had to eat, I would’ve punched down the Food Wall and plowed through to the end. But then I saw what I had not touched: I still had a pound of onion rings, probably three-quarters of the fries, and the slaw had not even been glanced at, let alone nibbled on. I had hit the Wall head-on, again, and this time I felt a concussion coming on.
I still had at least two pounds of food to go, and being my wouldn’t stop screeching at me, so I reluctantly tapped. There would be no Wall Of Fame for me, and I would have to shell out $50 for a damn dead cow.
This is all that was left of my meal, minus the slaw, which I condemned to the lowest, coldest depths of Hell before meekly asking that the rest be wrapped up to go. As you can see, there was a tiny bit of burger remaining that I simply could not touch, not without all those side dishes looming. Plus, I was with my son. Having me retch all over the place, because I thought I could have just one more bite of burger, or one more onion ring, would have devastated the poor kid. Any uproarious laughter on his part would clearly have been a mask to hide his pain.
I did manage to get 50% off though, because the manager was in a good mood, I was polite about my failure, and I at least came somewhat close. That’s right, I got the Pity Prize. And I accepted it, because I’m shameless and could really use the $25 for something else.
I truly do not know how professional eaters do it. I don’t even know how they realize they’re good at it. “Hey, Mom, you know how I like to eat a lot? Well, I’m going to start eating even more, at a stupidly fast pace. Like, whole pounds of the stuff. I’m not even gonna taste anything! And then I’m going to eat even more. Don’t cry Mom; just get yourself to the grocery store and help me live my dream.”
Me, I’ll just keep stick to regular-sized burgers from here on in. Ultimately though, this was worth it. Sometimes, you just have to be spontaneous. It adds a layer of unpredictability to your life, and you might just learn something in the process. I know my son did. He now understands that life is all about experience, and challenging yourself in countless ways. Whether you successfully meet the challenge or not isn’t nearly as important as the simple fact that you stood up, looked at life dead-on, and tried your damndest.
And if he ever stops pointing and laughing at me for stuffing endless meat down my throat, I’m sure he’ll thank me for that.
Jason Iannone is a humorist and editor for hire. His Facebook is a rockin’ party, and his Twitter is the awesome afterparty. Tumblr is where he rides out the hangover, and archives anything he writes from anywhere.
Jason previously tackled pointless piggish behavior with Why Animal House Is the Only Good Frat Movie, and dove into the mind of somebody much crazier than him in An Open Letter To The Weird Guy From Train.