Saturday, March 15, 2008

Let's Eat!

This Thanksgiving, my family is getting together to feast. Now, most families do that. But this is the first time my younger brother will be joining us in many years. He’s lived out of state, and it’s been too expensive to fly out. But this year, he’s making the trip. And that means one thing: lots of eating.

Let’s flash back to 1990. My brother and I were little pipsqueaks. My parents took us to an all-you-can-eat buffet and told us kids to get their money’s worth of food. And so my brother and I set out to indeed get their money’s worth of food.

Before I go further, I’d like to flash back yet again to another story. When my brother and I were smaller kids, we used to race our bikes up a hill near our childhood home. Every time he lost, which was every time he raced me, my brother would throw a fit and my mom would have to buy him something. She’d buy him a new toy or an accessory for his bike -- anything to make him feel better.

Okay, we’re back to the first flashback, where my family is at the all-you-can-eat buffet. My brother was prepared to finally beat me at something. He was going to eat more food than I was going to eat. In preparation, my brother had gone two weeks without meals. He’d survived solely on potato chips.

Well, there was no way my little brother was going to out-eat me. I was just going to have to show him once and for all who was boss.

And so, with much to prove, my brother started the buffet battle big at the omelet table. And with a record and a reputation to uphold, I jumped right into the hams.

I never ate so much in my life. My brother and I were neck and neck in this scuffle of appetites. Plate after plate, we wore down the serving staff -- the servers couldn’t replenish our fresh plates fast enough. They couldn’t walk by our table without having to refill our orange juice glasses. And the place was running out of food. We made even the biggest of men look shameful.
Many of them left the place with their chins bobbing back and forth against their stomachs, their wives trying to boost their self-confidence with any lie they could think of.

My brother and I had eaten four different types of eggs; we’d eaten pancakes, waffles, pastries, cereal, toast, bagels, hams, bacon, sausage, fruit; we drank orange juice, hot chocolate, water, tomato juice -- I don’t even like tomato juice; we took down the dessert table, tore apart the frozen yogurt machine trying to get the last drop . . .

Oh, we got our parents’ money’s worth, that’s certain. In fact, we shut the place down for the next few weeks so the owners could recoup the loss.

In the end, my brother and I ate about the same amount of food. But we were so sick and so full that we couldn’t walk for two days. No kidding, that day my parents had a slew of activities planned for our family, but my brother and I had to stay in the car. We actually couldn’t get out of the car because our stomachs hurt so badly.

So now we return to the present day. Thanksgiving 2006. My mom is very excited to have the whole family together again for the first time in years, and she’s going to make sure it’s a great Thanksgiving with all the trimmings.

My mom, who’s Italian American and as a result will usually cook enough food for 30 Indian tribes, has set out to cook her ultimate feast. And my brother and I have a date for the title of the “Who Can Eat More” championship that we left tied up years ago.

I’ve long since ended my underestimation of my younger brother. And so I’ve gone without meals for the past month. I’m ready to eat everything my mom serves this Thanksgiving. I’m even prepared to eat cardboard if I have to.

To my brother, if you’re reading this: You better put on your game stomach.

To my mom, if you’re reading this: You better get a few more turkeys this year. And buy something to make that younger brother of mine feel better, like you used to do when I’d beat him in the bike races. You’ll thank me, because he’s gonna throw a fit after he realizes I’ve won again.

Happy Thanksgiving. This year, I’ll be thankful for antacids.

-November 2006

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