Someone who can fit sixty-eight wieners in his mouth must be confident in his sexuality, however, Joey "Jaws" Chestnut, in a July 4th burst, irrevocably changed the innuendo, forever linking his mouth with the number, "69" by eating that world record number of hot dogs in just ten minutes. Oh, he also ate the buns. Freud said, "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar." Groucho Marx countered (upon meeting a mother of 10 children), "that he enjoys his cigar, but sometimes takes it out of his mouth." Am I the only one who found the Nathan's International Hot Dog Eating Contest closer to pornography than peristalsis? Did you notice the grunting, sweating, writhing, the stuffing and bun lubing (in water, fruit punch, or lemonade)...the agony and ecstasy on each competitor's face. It was an orgiastic celebration harkening back to the Roman's Vomitoriums (minus the purging due to disqualification), it was an emetophiliac's wet dream (adding the rule, "you heave you leave"), it was a sabermetric nightmare leading to a near 1000 hdbs consumed across all competitors. It was more food porn than on the Food Network; it was a pork sword orgy on ESPN! Or perhaps it was just a lot of people eating quickly in order to beat the holiday traffic.
Joey's 69 hdbs was the grand spectacle, but if you were not one of the 40,000 folks at the corner of Stillwell and Surf, then you missed the small stuff. Celebrity counting judge Chef Morimorto receiving Tim "Eater X" Janus' recipe for hot dog ceviche. Matt "Megatoad" Stonie, pound-for-pound the toughest pro-eater on the planet, becoming only the fifth human to eat 50 or more hdbs in ten minutes. Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas making a Danica Patrick-like burst in the last 7 seconds to win the female championship. Jeff Butler proving that excellent posture and pro-eating can be copacetic. Badlands Booker, backed by the Brooklyn Community Choir, rapping, "Frankster's Paradise." So many more memories...so much antacid. At Ruby's on the boardwalk, many of the competitors gathered to swap stories and drink digestive beer. In the distance, the AstroLand Rocket was a shell of its former self, but Coney Island, the City of Fire, has always been a phoenix rising from its ashes. For the first time since 2001, I was in the crowd as the spectator, not on the competitors' side of the table. Would my eating career take the path of Coney Island and arise again, stronger and better, or like the Steeplechase Ride, would it be a stagnant distant reminder of the joyful screams that fill the July 4th Coney Island sky? It was the first July 4th that I didn't eat a hot dog, not a single one. I was tempted, but due to not qualifying for the big dance, I felt I didn't deserve the garlickly goodness of a Nathan's dog. On Saturday, my mind was still on the contest. I sat at Gallagher's 2000, a peeler joint in Long Island City. The ESPN rebroadcast of the contest was on TV and I was explaining the nuances to a Hungarian stripper named Lucy. She was an avid watcher, not of the grand moments, but of the little ones. She asked many questions regarding why on our country's day of independence we would celebrate it with a "Kolbasz" Eating Contest? Then, as Joey Chestnut was wrapped in the American Flag, she noticed he respectfully, delicately, wiped his mouth with the flag. Lucy asked if that was common? I simply answered that some American's salute with their hands others perhaps prefer to kiss the flag as what could be more American than the stars, stripes, and a little mustard?
Crazy Legs Conti can be reached at www.crazylegsconti.com unless he has been sent to the Principal's Office due to this post.