Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Saltine Sextet

Walking over to the laundromat, I passed one of the many bars in my neighborhood. The sign outside read "YANKEES VS. RED SOX 7 PM. Here we go again!"

I knew I'd only be seeing the first hour of the game, since my friend Mike was coming into the city to eat dinner with Chan and I. The Yes broadcast began with a shot of Babe Ruth signing his yankee contract. Oh, dear lord. Here we go again, indeed.

Then Michael Kay's intro went on to describe all the other players who went from Boston to New York, and how they all rode around the field on horseback in their new pinstriped glory. This, of course, all led up to a million shots of Damon, and a million more hair references. Kay ended the intro by saying that "when we come back, we'll get to know him even better." At this point, my laundry was about ready, so I gladly sacrificed seeing the Damon behind-the-music. However, when I got back, Pat called me, needing to tell someone just how cheesy it was.

Michael Kay no longer has a chin. It doesn't appear he got off the couch all winter.

Moving on, I got to see a little of the game, and listening to Kay made me want to puke as usual. It's not even April. I understand Stern hit a homer, as did Wily Mo. And Papelbon did fairly well.

While it was definitely exciting to see some of Sox-yanks--as soon as Kay said the two team names I felt the old familiar rush--what happened at the Food Emporium topped it.

Chan and I met Mike, his girlfriend Gigi, and Nancy Wong at a place called the Panorama Cafe. We had a great time, just hanging out, telling tales of our various near-death experiences. Then, Mike came out with a profound statement: "It's impossible to swallow six saltines in a minute."

Whoa. If there was one thing in all the world I knew to be certain at that moment, it was that I would be attempting to prove that statement wrong, and soon.

We finished the meal (during which we caught a little of the game--on a TV across the street. People who aren't huge baseball fans can be very impressed when you can tell them who's batting not only from 100 feet away, but through the windows of a bus between you and the TV) and headed to Food Emporium, which is a chain of supermarkets here in New York.

Chan located the Saltines--we decided they had to be "Premium" to be legit--and Gigi made the purchase. We took a position just inside the exit door and got ready to take our shots at dispelling the six-saltine myth.

This is what's great about New York. In the quaint town I grew up in, a supermarket manager would kick you out fast for doing anything but shopping. In New York, as long as you remained clothed, it's a free-for-all.

The official rules: You must eat and swallow six saltines in one minute. No water allowed. Just the six saltines. Nancy Wong took the first shot. After much conferring, she went for the 2-2-2 method. We quickly realized this myth might not be a myth. A minute passed, and she'd barely gotten four crackers into her mouth, let alone swallowed all six. I was up next. I figured 3-3 was the way to go. Here's the thing: it takes a while to get the saltines into a swallowable form. By the time you've made it to your fisrt swallow of your first 'tine or first group of 'tines, there's just no time to repeat the performance with your remaining 'tines.

Mike held the watch, and it was quite amusing hearing him give updates as to how much time was left on the clock, while each person took their turn with giant cheekfuls of starch.

The frustrating thing was, none of us ever really was on pace for success. You've got to eat one every ten seconds, and no matter how you break up the six--or even if you literally break them up--you'll always fall behind scedule. You can't play catch-up in this league. Once you fall off the pace, you're screwed.

I came up with the "eat all six at once" method. (Remember, this is all being done as shoppers walked by with their purchases, and with the other four people in the group trying to make the eater laugh.) I stuffed them all in, and quite fast, I might add. But that minute flew by. Around 45 seconds, I gagged and coughed up half the load into a plastic bag Chan had grabbed from the end of the aisle. I was done at that point.

On one attempt, Nancy Wong actually was ahead of schedule. Four down, 28 seconds left. But even in a case like this, she didn't swallow all six until the 90-second mark. This remains the record for our group.

I don't know where this came from, or how word spread, but it's true. You can't swallow six saltines in one minute. It sounds easy. But it's impossible. Try it and report back to me.

Needless to say, my tummy hurts. I ate 24 to 30 saltines tonight.

Update: Apparently, it's not impossible. And now that I think about it, a lot of you know all about this thing. Oh well. If I can reach just one person...

My GOD JERE, without WATER?? HOLY CRAP. AT LEAST EVERYONE WITH YOU knew the Heimlich maneuver. I hope. I'm sure you do. I actually had to use it once when a fellow diner ( I did not know her) started choking. After 10 seconds and she was still in trouble, I grasped my hands around her waist just under the sternum, pressed, and voila, a clump of something, well compacted, came up and flew about 10 feet, landing in someone's WATER GLASS!! But she was OK, and I felt great the rest of the day. Beware of Saltines without H2O.
"Well he was trying swallow a whole cow..."

Peter, I should have had water on hand to at least drink between attempts. It was a supermarket, so I could have if I absolutely needed it.

New update, though: This morning, I feel as if I have swallowed the sea. My saliva is salt-saliva. I only taste salt. I am drinking water, but I still taste salt.
A mini-movie, which should have been done.
A minute and a half is pretty good for 6 Premiums. But the real question is how many could Arroyo/Wily Mo eat? I bet Pena coule eat more, but would bite and miss at a lot of them.
So now that we know the 6 'tines in a minutes can be done...the next challenge is whistling at the same time as eating the 'tines. But apparently it's hard to eat just 2 saltines and whistle
This sounds a lot like a Kramer or Costanza Stunt on Seinfeld.

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Location: Rhode Island, United States