Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Darigold Wager

We are all gathered around a table in Boundary Bay's taproom. I'm with my roommates and a few other friends and we are discussing bids. Ansel has agreed to the Gallon Challenge (warning: to follow this link may cause lightheadedness, nausea, and vomiting), a test designed to pit man against, well, milk. The contest requires an individual to consume one (1) gallon of milk (of 2% fat content or greater) within an hour, and keep it down. And, I think, it's the keeping it down part that causes everyone the trouble. No one knows why exactly the average human is unable to hold down an entire gallon of milk in that amount of time (or maybe everyone does and just never told me), but, like licking one's elbow or watching back-to-back episodes of My Super Sweet Sixteen, there is a morbid curiosity—or perhaps a pride in disbelief—that keeps people trying.

The taproom is loud with conversations at other tables and the clink of dishes as servers shuffle plates and glasses around, so we are shouting like stock brokers the specific times at which each of us thinks Ansel will break under the pressure, literally. I picture an abdominal swelling reminiscent of Violet Beauregarde in Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, only a skosh more revolting. But Ansel's determined: "I can do it. I can do it."

Ben, the challenge commissioner, guesses 8:42. Bobby guesses 8:50, and Emily guesses 8:40.

The challenge is to take place the following night at precisely 7:30pm. Ansel will have until 8:30pm to finish his gallon and, diverging slightly from the traditional rules of the challenge, must not expel the milk before 9:30pm. Now, if there is one person I know that should be able to excel in this sort of contest, it is Ansel Sanger. The man is no stranger to milk. He is the primary milk consumer in our house, drinking pint glass after pint glass in a single sitting. To him, there is nothing quite as satisfying as a tall, cold glass of milk, and osteoporosis doesn't even run in his family. I'm sure, if there's one person I know who can rise to the Gallon Challenge, it is Ansel.

I place my bid at 8:23. No, I'm not convinced he'll make it the whole hour. Because if there's one thing I know about Ansel it is that he is competitive, very competitive. His love of milk wouldn't even make the top 5 list of things characteristic to him, and I suspect he will not pace himself properly for optimal endurance.

Other bids include 8:10, 8:28, 8:46, and 9:10. Molly is the only one who thinks Ansel will not puke, but I feel good about my time. We finish our beers and leave, feeling a little like you might just before a raffle drawing, or when you receive sweepstakes mail: unshakable, with a flurry of excitement in your belly. You may already be a winner!

In the historical records of my house, the Gallon Challenge has surfaced time and again in conversation. From the beginning, Ansel was certain that he would emerge victorious should the challenge ever be set before him, and Ben always offered that he would buy the very gallon used. But, like many things spoken of around here—pool tables, helicopters, house cleaning—the event was never initiated. Now, in our final weeks living together, the gauntlet was finally thrown down.

The morning of the event, I woke to realize that the only milk in the house was reserved for Ansel to guzzle later that night, leaving me with a dry bowl of Frosted Mini-Spooners and a sour mood. I would not be around that evening when Ansel would test the limits of his digestive tract. Mercifully, I would be at work. Later, while standing at the bookstore counter, I felt my phone vibrate and, with no one looking, I peeked at the text message I had just received. It was from Bobby: Dave wins! 8:23 tons of puke!

With no real prize to speak of, my first thought was, "Gross. Nobody wins," but then I reconsidered. No, in fact, I had won: Not only did I guess the precise time for Ansel to vomit, I also did not have to watch any of the proceedings. I did not see the repulsive pint-after-pint drinking. I did not hear the eventual and incessant complaints Ansel surely made as the milk turned to rocks in his gut. And I missed the actual vomiting. Indeed, I won in spades. Getting the time right, well, that's just the icing on the cake. I felt unshakable, a little flurry of excitement in my belly. Everybody likes to win. If I were the gambling type, I knew my game, provided casinos and basement poker tournaments eventually expanded into competitive milk drinking. Still, I knew my game, and I had my cash cow—so to speak.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Cold Season

Would you believe I've been looking
for rain, here, with few days remaining
in this fleeting season of summer?
Our days are numbered that we might
share with the sun in a clear blue sky
and the hours growing warmer,

and I have kept an eye out for the clouds.
Only I wish for the conditions and doubt
that might send us all deep inside
our dark homes to sleep and read and pray
in preparation for the coming colder days.
Would you believe that the sight

of slate gray spanning horizon to zenith
and down is one I am quite taken with?
I'm partial toward the colder weather.
Today's weather is nothing I'm prepared for,
affection I will not yet yield to. No, I prefer
heat built from my own small effort.