Last week, my office held its annual picnic at an offsite location featuring games, music, line dancing lessons (!), rock-wall climbing, and assorted odd snacks. Initially, I looked for the old standby, hot dogs, but finding none, I picked up some chicken strips. At the first bite, I knew I'd made a mistake. I spit the limp, damp bite of chicken into a napkin, rinsed my mouth with some Amstel, and hit up the snack line once again. This time, I chose the mini corn dogs -- believe it or not, the least dubious snack there. They were cold, and oddly sweet, but edible.
I wandered up to the midway with some colleagues, won a stuffed parrot and consumed a funnel cake and half an ice cream cone. I hit the picture booth with a random colleague and headed back to the picnic patio, the only place alcohol was allowed. There I found my colleague Tammy, who was complaining about the lack of hot dogs amid the snack offerings. She told me she'd actually seen a bunch of hot dogs and had asked for one, but she'd been turned away. "These are for the hot-dog-eating contest," she was told. No matter what she said, they wouldn't hand one over.
Tammy said she was considering entering the hot-dog-eating contest and eating just one hot dog, perhaps requesting some mustard and sauerkraut before the start of the event. Once she'd eaten a single dog, she'd throw in the towel. She decided against it, but several other colleagues took the challenge and signed up, their type-A competitive juices clearly flowing. And it wasn't about the prize itself -- a mere $100. It was about winning, pure and simple.
The contest was about to begin, so we found good spots and settled in for the five-minute event, an orgy of encased-meat consumption. Some competitors dunked their buns in cups of water, taking a page from world-class hot-dog-eating champions (see "How to Win a Hot Dog Eating Contest"). Others just doggedly bit and chewed, bit and chewed.
When it ended, the colleague most-well-known for his cutthroat competitive tendencies had won. Another colleague ran to the portapotties to vomit. The organizers offered up the leftover hot dogs to the spectators.
NOBODY took one. Tammy and I agreed we didn't want a hot dog anymore.
Maybe not ever.