We are a species given to contests. If there is one thing I've learned in ten years of hosting Only A Game, it is that there is no activity that cannot be turned into a competition.
Consider belt sander racing. The belt sander is a tool invented so that woodworkers could easily smooth planks and finished work. But inevitably somebody decided that he wanted to have the fastest belt sander in town, in the state, in the country, in the world! And so there came to be belt sander racing.
There is also wife-carrying. I can't remember why. Maybe simply because any number of men have carried their wives from burning buildings or other perilous situations, and some number of wives have likewise rescued their husbands. Perhaps husband-carrying has failed to become an actual event because women are too smart to attempt to sling their husbands over their shoulders unless compelled to do so by something more substantial than a cash prize.
Skillet-tossing is another competition we've encountered. Presumably it began when somebody noticed that some number of women had tossed cast-iron skillets at some number of men. Happily, in the actual contest, the competitors toss their skillets at dummies dressed up to look like men — unless that's redundant.
Then there are the various eating contests: hot dogs, hot peppers, chicken wings, and so on. The single most destructive contest of this kind — and that's quite a distinction — belongs to a competition held in Russia to see who could drink the most vodka. The second, third, and fourth place finishers ended up in the hospital. The winner died.
Just before the end of 2003, Only A Game reported on the first ever (so far as I know) fruitcake-eating contest. It occurred in buffalo, New York. The winner was Sonya Thomas, a 105-pound woman who powered down nearly five pounds of fruitcake in ten minutes. She beat Eric Booker, who weighs 405 pounds, by a single bite of fruitcake. Thomas added the fruitcake-eating title to the chicken taco-eating and hard- boiled egg-eating championships she already holds. Booker will have to be sated with the pea eating and corned beef hash eating titles that he currently holds.
At the beginning of a New Year, I have a great deal to be thankful for. Somewhere on the list is that I get to marvel at so much stuff...from afar.
This program aired on January 3, 2004. The audio for this program is not available.