Competitive Eating and Competitive Sitting

July 4

             Happy Independence Day everyone, as America celebrates two of its favorite pastimes: gluttony and sloth.  We have competivie eating, and competitive sitting.

             Joey Chestnut and Mr. Kobayashi will face off once again in the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating competition at Coney Island, vying for face-stuffing supremacy.  Apparently both took it to heart when their parents told them there are kids starving in China.

             Somehow this has turned into good old American fun.  The fact that ESPN televises the competition, and media outlets such as KNBR interview competitors such as Chestnut, a Bay Area product, has made it all seem acceptable. 

             No it isn’t.  It’s disgusting.  On a couple of levels. 

             Did you ever see Monty Python’s “The Meaning of Life,” where the morbidly obese man shovels food down his pie-hole and then, when it seems he can take no more, he is offered a mint?  The mint sets off a detonation that leaves only his ribcage and a heart beating.  Everyone in the theater groaned.  A few might have yakked.

             It’s not much different with these guys.  Watching bits of hot dog and bun dribble out of the sides of their mouths is like watching “Fear Factor,” only more gross.  How did these guys become celebrities?  Further proof that incessant marketing can take you a long way.  How does one become a competitive eater?  No, I don’t want to know.

             Not to mention the moral angle.  Is it any wonder we’re hated in some parts of the world?  What does a kid in Darfur think if he or she is shown video of a guy wasting enough food to feed a village?   I know, even if Nathan’s wanted to send them food, it would likely be intercepted by some warlord, but this is still not the best message to send the rest of the big blue marble.

             Okay, off the soap box. 

             There is not only competitive eating on the 4th, but competitive sitting.  Twenty-four hours before our fine township of Blondville (oops, I mean Danville) holds its annual Independence Day parade, a handful of people have set out chairs at the best locations along San Ramon Valley Boulevard. 

             Hey, I love a parade too.  Just like I loved iPods and Krispy Kreme Donuts.  That doesn’t mean I wait in line the night before.  I wish to all that is holy that I had the time these people have, but I still wouldn’t use it to wait in line.  And it’s not like the Blondville parade is the Tournament of Roses.   

            Here’s how my beautiful wife and I will play it:  walk up after the parade starts, and stand on folding stools we’ll carry out with us, because goodness knows the crowds will be (shudder) three-deep.  But that’s just us. 

            If you are one of those who likes to wait, that’s your choice.  God Bless you and God Bless America.  That’s what this day is all about.  That’s what our brave solders fought for, I think.

            After all, again, it’s a free country.

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