The evening has come and gone, along with the subsequent indigestion. Here is the play-by-play description of my attempt at greatness.
The day of the taco and already I am starting to have my doubts. Last night’s delicious meal has not agreed with my system. Some gut wrenching pain and unmentionable bathroom experiences have caused me to put my faith in a fantastic little pink bottle. I got through the workday unscathed, but my stomach doesn’t feel as good as it should. At least not if I’m to stow away an unhealthy amount of tacos. For this kind of endeavor, I should be one hundred percent, not seventy-two. However, I press on, not wanting to deprive myself of the opportunity to fail.
My girlfriend and I are on the 10-15 minute drive it takes to reach ground zero. I have decided that I need some music to pump me up. If we were in my car, it undoubtedly would have been “The Final Countdown” by Europe. My ’97 Ford Taurus only plays cassettes, thus I am a huge 80s hair metal fan. But as fate would have it, we take the CD capable auto. Eminem will accompany me on my journey with his newest album, Recovery. It kind of works.
The bar is nearly vacant and none of our favorite barkeeps are present. I tell the bald, mustachioed bartender “I’m here to eat more tacos than that guy.” I point emphatically to the picture of the current champion behind me for a semi-dramatic effect. He looks less than enthused, says he’ll give us a few minutes to think about our orders. Did he not hear what I just said? So far this is so anti-climactic that I again start to reconsider, but I press on. After I inquire if I get the tacos free if I win, Baldy looks down at his apron and begrudgingly says, “If you can eat more than 12 tacos, it’ll be on me.” This guy is not happy about this and extremely doubtful. I push this thought from my head as I start off with a bang, four soft-shelled beef tacos. Minutes pass by and my tacos arrive, or should I say, MEGA Tacos! These tortillas are barely holding. Like a German U-Boat going way past its appropriate depth, the tacos are ready to burst. With a mischievous smile, Baldy states that the only rule is that I have to eat everything. I look over at my girlfriend’s tacos, hard-shelled fish. There is hardly any garnishing on hers. Something is fishy here, and it isn’t her fish tacos. Being the potential champion that I am, I dig in. It takes three to four bites to expose any beef, resulting in mouthfuls of lettuce, tomato, chopped onions, and a ton of tiny jalapeno peppers. My stomach is strong, but not when it comes to spices, especially jalapenos. This is sabotage. I’ve never had a taco with this much crap on it. There are already rumblings in my tumbly. I inspect the fish tacos again and notice that there are no such evil extras. I have a plan for round two. Fish tacos in a hard shell, as it is much harder to stuff something that is liable to break. I finish the first four and order three hard-shelled fish tacos.
There is definitely sabotage in the first degree going on. It has been nearly fifteen minutes since my order of round two and they have yet to arrive. The food is settling, not a good thing. Attempting to catch Baldy in the act of rigging my tacos to blow, I lean over the table to look in the kitchen. No foul deeds to be seen, but I’m still rather wary.
Finally the tacos arrive and there seems to be even more lettuce and tomato. The jalapenos and onions have made a welcome exit, but the remaining L and T are spread over and in all three tacos, creating a salad-like look. Luckily everything is fresh and goes down relatively easy. However, my stomach is starting to get rather full and also still aches from those jalapenos. Seven tacos down and I must press on.
Again, I have a plan to power through. I will now order two tacos at a time to reduce the amount of vegetation that gets between the real taco and me. The intake of water is also helping at this point. These tacos arrive in a timely manner and I ravage the eighth taco with minimal resistance. The garden growing on my salad is starting to activate my gag reflex. I slowly eat the ninth taco and decide that I need a break. The very thought of more lettuce is starting make me cringe. I am really regretting that first, unrequested break between rounds one and two.
Through some fairly simple calculations, I have discovered that I am actually tied with the current champion. According to a very reliable source, the tacos used in the champs winning bout were only 6-inches, as opposed to my eight. In order to simply tie his record, I would have to eat twenty-four more inches of taco than he. I think of more lettuce and tomato and nearly lose it. I am kind of pissed off.
After some careful deliberation and conferring with my supportive girlfriend, I have decided that I would not like to die tonight. I feel terrible. My stomach refuses to settle and make room. Even thinking of ordering another taco makes me want to vomit all over Baldy’s baldhead and/or apron. Am I a little defeated? Yes, but this inch factor is too much let go. There is no fairness or regulation is this quest. So, I start off this year by losing, but I still kind of win. To me, I created the new record for 8-inch tacos. And I fought valiantly. Time to go home, lie in bed and fall into a food coma.
So maybe my year of 23 will not be a year for raging success, but it will be one of actually trying to do things. No more standing off the sides and watching others try to be great. I will try to be great even it does end in the occasional failure. It was an interesting experience that I will definitely partake in again soon. (It should be noted that two days after the evening of too many tacos, I had the urge to demolish four or five Taco Bell tacos. Nothing keeps me down.)