Friday, December 1, 2017

Feast of Burden

Overeating makes no sense to me. Unless there’s competition involved.

My younger brother and I used to try to out-eat one another at buffets and Thanksgiving feasts, and we’d eat so much we’d make ourselves sick for days to follow.

But it’s been years since we’ve been to a buffet or spent a Thanksgiving together due to the more than 1,000 miles between us, so now I simply enjoy my meals -- I don’t stuff myself.

“Dad, you can Skype Uncle Tom on Thanksgiving and then we can finally see who eats the most,” my 11-year-old son said.

I’d told my boy about past food fights between my brother and me. He wanted to see, firsthand, one of these showdowns -- to the death.

Can you imagine Skyping a Thanksgiving meal? No civilized, decent human being would consider it. And then God created brothers.

My brother was definitely up for Skyping a feast-off. He never got over being younger than me. I certainly couldn’t back down or I’d be undoing all the “older brother” work I’d put in over the years.

And so began the final engagement of war between my brother and me.

My stomach had other thoughts. It was used to consuming human-sized portions. Going back to oversized helpings just for Thanksgiving would be like running the L.A. Marathon with no training. My stomach was so out of shape it couldn’t even handle double-decker burgers anymore.

To test the waters, I went to Fatburger and ordered their famous XXXL burger. I couldn’t even pick that thing up. It was magnificent. A crowd gathered to watch it eat me.

By this point my brother was most likely eating entire hamburger stands. He was younger, had more stamina. I thought about starving myself like I’d done in past campaigns to see if an uncontrollable hunger would turn me into a beast. I tried to turn down a meatball sandwich from my favorite Italian deli.

It’s amazing what man can do if he puts his mind to it. I just couldn’t put my mind to it. I couldn’t look that beautiful sandwich in the roll with all that provolone cheese and say no. That fortress of marinara-covered meatballs seemed more rewarding than beating my younger brother in a battle of appetites -- again.

So I ate the sandwich. It was so good I had another. I thought I’d never get full, and like a ferocious beast I kept devouring more food.

Then something magical happened -- I got so full, and so sick that I wanted more. It’s like at the gym when the pain is a sign of gain. I was taking in so much food I don’t think I was taking in any air.

“I can’t talk, I’m not breathing, hand me another pizza,” I told the guy at the deli. When I ran out of money to buy more food, I went home and stuffed my face with anything we had in the kitchen.

A whole loaf of bread?

The thought of it hurt.

You call that pain? Two loaves, please.

I ate my wife’s wheat bread, which I usually hate next to my sourdough. Together, though, it wasn’t so bad. The last few slices didn’t even have taste. I just shoveled everything and then anything in. By Thanksgiving I was going to be a legitimate dumpsite for anything that’d fit in my mouth.

The local media would break the story of my victory, and when I made national headlines, my brother would still be looking for a knife to carve the turkey.

 Unfortunately, the ferocious beast in me scurried off and left me in so much agony I couldn’t even cry. I knew then I’d done permanent damage to my digestive system. The medical community would have to invent a new doctor to surgically remove the food I’d swallowed, and I’d be the spokesperson for a new disorder that makes the act of eating impossible.

I had to call my brother and call off the feast-off.

I couldn’t get to the phone. I was that weighed down. My son brought me the cordless and before I could dial, it rang. It was my brother.

He was also marooned to the floor, his daughter holding his cell to his own food-stuffed face so he could talk.

“I’m calling off the Thanksgiving Day battle,” he said. “I won’t eat again till Christmas.”

I agreed, but I said in my older-brotherly way, “Guess you lose in a forfeit, then, huh?”

-November 2014

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