WINGS AND BEER!
Damn you wings and beer! You’re a considerable reason why I’m no longer the skinny guy that nature intended me to be.
When I was in college, a group of us formed a Wing Team (pretty unoriginal name, right?) that would go out every Thursday night in search of the best chicken wings around.
Unfortunately, our self-imposed geographical and budgetary limitations precluded us from leaving a small section of Southern Illinois, hardly the culinary capital of the midwest, let alone the world. Suffice to say, our exposure to wing excellence was limited.
We’d found some ok wings at the Dandy Inn and of course, Show Me’s wings weren’t too bad either, in spite of the accusations that we only enjoyed them for the shorty shorts. There were women on the Wing Team too! Show Me’s, for my international reader in Canada, is a more white trash version of Hooter’s, but they wore hot pink shorts instead of orange.
But before that Wing Team, there was once a single man wing team.
The one man wing team formed out of nowhere, with no forethought or pretext for anything but greatness. The one man wing team morphed because he had to, he knew he must! A manly challenge presented itself, and he….he did what he must to meet a challenge.
Like Willie Mays’s great over the shoulder catch, hundreds of thousands have claimed they were there that night, the night the greatest champion ever left his mark. They weren’t though. No, the fire marshal would see to that. 258 was the maximum occupancy, and that was only met on a very busy night like St. Patrick’s Day….
That man, NO, that champion of men……….was me. I was there. I saw me do it.
Here is my story.
It was a Monday night in 1994 and I was a single man out with the boys watchin’ some Monday Night Football at the fairly newly opened Hooters Restaurant in South County.
Wings, beer, boobs, ass and football. Yeah, that’s how men rolled then, before they all became metrosexual queers.
The boys, Effeminate Dave the train girl from Grant’s Farm, some dude I didn’t really know from Vianney High School who I think was named John and was probably still a minor, some other person I think we worked with but whose name and face completely escape me now, and I were at Hooters, talking about what we’d do sexually to all the somewhat heavy-set yet increasingly hot with each beer waitresses were we not having to get up early because we were really busy the next day and watching some football when our waitress approached our table and tapped me on the shoulder.
I turned around and promptly thought “mmm, hey baby, like what ya see, do ya?” to myself as she looked right past me to Effeminate Dave and asked him if he’d like to enter a chicken wing eating contest.
Effeminate Dave, let’s just call him Dave from now on, did have a strange pear shaped figure that made him look sort of fat and sloppy. He was dumpy I guess. She said he struck her as the kind of man who could put some wings away.
Well Dave was not the kind of man who could put away some wings because Dave was not into eating anything that had the remote chance of dripping any sort of sauce onto his ridiculous, Conway Twitty looking shirt. Dave once told me with a straight face that he didn’t care for blow jobs. He just brought it up out of the blue while we waited our turn to pickup passengers for tours at Grant’s Farm. What man says that to another man? He did! He took a drag from his cigarette, looked at it like this was a moment he’d considered many times in his mind, looked at me and said “Don, you know what? I really don’t care for blow jobs.” Then he went back to his smoke.
I wonder now, if he was trying to come out of the closet or something to me. He was pretty clearly gay and pretty clearly the only one who didn’t realize it. Sadly, we had to get going so our conversation, well, his conversation was left forever in flux and unresolved.
Anyway, Dave told her he was out and the guy who I think was called John was out because he was trying not to draw attention to himself since he was a minor and he thought Hooters would have him arrested or some such nonsense. He was sweating bullets and I believe he told her he had to piss before running from the table like a baby.
The other dude, whose name I can’t for the life of me remember still said he had Crohn’s Disease and told her “No way” before she even made eye contact with him.
While I was thinking to myself “What the fuck is Crohn’s Disease and wondering whether or not it was contagious,” Lucy Looksprettygoodeightbeersin finally asked my then skinny butt if I’d do it. I was only moderately offended to be the last one asked.
She was a tall woman, with classic 80’s Camaro Hair, and was probably 7 years too old to be a Hooter’s girl that you could look at without thinking “how sad” to yourself.
Still, her puppy dog eyes said “please do this, you’ll be my hero” while her mouth said that there was a $5 entry fee and that her boss was making her find someone to do it and that all her other customers were old dbags! Meanwhile, and most importantly, her ample cleavage was saying that there was no chance I wasn’t saying yes. But still, I’m not cheap, so I had to think.
“Lucy!” I said. “I’ll do it!”.
I was a young man who enjoyed a good wing, plus I was halfway to being drunk. I figured I could easily down $5 worth of wings and save myself from having my driver stop at Jack in the Box for fried tacos and something else covered in cheese sauce on the way home.
While I do enjoy me some Hooter’s wings, Lucy failed to tell me that the wings were the hottest ones they serve. I think they used to be called Hiroshima wings or something.
While these wings weren’t ghost pepper hot, I don’t do spicy hot food. My tongue and lips don’t appreciate food that has heat just for the sake of heat. They like flavor.
Oh well, it was too late to back out now, as I had already looked this poor woman’s breast cleavage right in the eyes and promised her I’d be her man. A real man doesn’t welsh on a promise. Plus, I’d already given her $5.
When they had found enough willing warriors, which was 10, we were all called to the eating arena. The eating arena consisted of 10 stools, each with a huge plate of hot wings on it and an accompanying Hooters waitress ready to count the discarded bones.
I was surrounded by a bunch of men much bigger than I, along with a ravishing woman to my left. She was built like Fred Flinstone. She was wearing Timberland boots and a flannel shirt with the sleeves torn off. Her out of season jorts revealed that she was not a woman bound by society’s inconveniences such as shaving her legs. Her mullet was mesmerizing and I thought for a moment that I loved her. I had noticed her earlier because she had an odd number of pickle spears on her plate. Maybe she really liked pickles? Maybe she was pregnant? Who knows, but she winked at me and said something about having sworn she’d never do something or other with a bone in her mouth again. I believe she was trying to psych me out!
The ruffian to my right looked like a chap who could just tilt the entire plate of wings towards his mouth and swallow the whole pile, bones and all. He was large and thick, with a furrowed unibrow and yellow teeth. He was hideous.
Just when I thought I didn’t have a chance and was about to run to the nearest exit, never to step foot into a bar again, Lucy brought me another beer from my bucket. Never before had a Bud Light ever been so tasty, so calming. I chugged that beer!
It was like liquid Xanax. I was calm again, cool. “I got this,” I told Lucy.
She smiled and as her face shone in the fluorescent light of Hooter’s, she was probably never so beautiful to any other man than she was to me in that moment. She gazed into my own beautiful blue eyes and I knew she thought I was her hero, the most perfect man that she had ever had the pleasure of meeting….wait, wait. Sorry, that’s not true. Disregard this whole paragraph please. Where the fuck was I again?
Yes, it was a soothing bottle of beer.
We were told that we had 10 minutes to eat all the wings we could handle.
With a ring of some bell, the competition started! Pickles, the heifer on my left and the troglodyte to my right jumped face first into their piles. I began eating my wings with my pinky fingers splayed and my butthole puckered, to keep the fire inside.
I wasn’t sure how I was doing, but Lucy kept encouraging me as though there was a prize in it for her were I to somehow win this thing.
She kept telling me that I was “doing great.”
“Keep going, you’re almost there.”
“Faster, go faster”
“Put the whole thing in your mouth at once, that’s the best way to do it.”
I wondered how many men have encouraged Lucy using these same lines in the back seat of their respective hot rods, and the hilarity of it almost made me spit my wings out all over her awesome chest!
Like a true champion though, I managed to keep my meat to myself and kept at it.
When there were three minutes left in the great wing challenge, adversity struck team Don when Pickles the flannel shirt wearing woman must have suddenly had a flashback to some horrible event in her life that caused her to think that the wings in her hands were penises. She freaked in sudden disgust. She threw her wings from her hand and began to lurch about until her stomach drop kicked whatever she had eaten the previous three days by my guess, all over her stool and into her bone bowl.
She was out of the competition, but she managed to spray a little wing sauce just onto the corner of my eye, where it threatened to touch my cornea and cause much pain and discomfort.
Because we had become one in our quest for greatness, Lucy saw the potential dilemma and came to wipe my face with her dirty ass table washing rag, but a bead of sweat beat her to the sauce.
The sweat carried the hot sauce like flushed water carrying Little Johnny’s dead goldfish down the toilet, right upon my eyeball. The pain was excruciating!
“I’ve been shot!” I yelled!!
“Oh God, no!!!” Screamed Lucy.
Our dream of becoming the first annual South County Hooters’ wing eating champion was in jeopardy!
I was nearly brought to one knee from the pain, but I was willing to give up an eye to win this contest, dammit! The partial blindness was probably a blessing as I heard Pickles cough and gag before puking again…good God, how many pickles did she eat?
Had I seen her throw up, I may have followed suit and done so myself, but my stomach stayed strong.
Lucy poured water onto my face and it didn’t help a single bit! My eyeball still burned!
With the help of my soft tablemates, I managed to keep eating wings though. Crohn’s disease guy kept telling me that I had to be close to the lead!
He was maybe some rain man kind of dude who could count dropped toothpicks, only he was counting bowls of chicken bones.
Just as suddenly as it started, the bell to stop rang out.
I stopped eating and stood by my bowl of mostly eaten wing bones and my too old to be a Hooters’ girl waitress and thanked the Lord that cell phones and digital cameras hadn’t been thrust into our lives yet, because I’m sure I looked ridiculous.
I felt like I was bleeding from my eyeball with sweat and tears all running down my face. Meanwhile, Pickles was being consoled by a woman I’m pretty sure was my 5th grade gym teacher, but I wasn’t seeing straight enough to be sure.
I’ve never fought such a valiant fight. I looked at the other bowls and didn’t notice any that looked that much fuller than mine.
I thought maybe I won this thing…just maybe I am the champion!
That, however, had to wait for the final count.
Next Post – Who’s the champ and what’s the prize anyway?