Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Shrimp Quest 2007.

It's already 7 hours after Shrimp Quest 2007, and I'm still having trouble cleansing my mouth of shellfish slime.

We had lunch catered at work on Wednesday, and I learned that the Oak Tree would have a shit-ton of peel-and-eat shrimp on hand. After learning what was on the menu, I stretched, drank multiple glasses of water, and prepared myself to set the world record for shrimp eating.

The world record for shrimp eating (9 on the list) has already by set - by some guy named Erik Denmark - and equals four pounds, 15 ounces of "spot shrimp" in 12 minutes. Well that was nothing. And I'm not a fancy guy. My goal was an easy-to-remember five pounds of shrimp eaten over the course of my lunch hour.

Some have held contests where the shrimp count is the most important record, but there could be a few Sea Monkeys in that "record-setting" collection.

I've been fooled by other "all you can eat" promotions, but this one I was actually able to see - a giant platter with 10 pounds of shellfish.

There were complications. After having an allergy incident at a local restaurant over the summer (involving delicious ahi tuna and a trip to the emergency room), I was nervous about the undertaking. But a half hour before I started lunch I sampled one of the shrimp - just to see if anything would happen. Nothing did happen, thankfully, but it's funny how the mind can play tricks on you. The whole half hour before lunch I felt phantom pains, and phantom blushes, and phantom choking sensations. It could've been that my brain recoilled in horror at the thought of five pounds of dead seafood sitting in my stomach.

The brain can be tricked, and the stomach can be made numb. I had work to do.

Here are my notes on the attempt:

0:05: Lunch is prepared. A sandwich, some tomato soup, and a little more than a dozen shrimp, plus a cup of dipping sauce to help the little beauties go down. Still no effects from the trial shrimp. All systems go.

0:07: A Diet Coke may complicate things. Carbonation in the stomach = less room for seafood. Will test results.

0:08: No time for diet coke. Must concentrate on eating.

0:12: Next batch of shrimp on plate - all is well. Stomach is protesting the speed, but tongue is thanking me for the taste. These are quality shrimp.

0:16: Sandwich half gone, leaving more room for shrimp.

0:19: Co-workers bugging me with conversation. [Something scribbled out, won't post here] The march continues.

0:24: More than a third of the way through, but progress is slipping. Thoughts of the poor Eskimos displaced during the raid to fetch these fine shrimp developing into mad glee at smashed igloos and fleeing Inuits for the benefit of this delicious lunch. Other news: the soup is tasty.

0:27: Drifting in and out of consciousness. Restless leg syndrome looks like an acceptable consequence of today's attempt.

0:35: No way to describe the gustational noises erupting from my stomach. Hallucinations coming on strong now. Maybe a pound or two of shrimp eaten by now. Will I ever make it? And will that flying clown ever land to eat lunch?

0:45: Only 15 minutes left. Attempt almost aborted seven minutes ago after another co-worker joined me in the shrimp eating. Thoughts of using the plastic cutlery as weapons if things ever get heated. Beads of sweat are dripping into the dipping sauce. No matter. It will help the shellfish slide down.

0:52: Seven minutes since last post. Co-workers are suspecting something, what with the slimy drool and bug-eyed despair that shows on my swollen face. Is the allergy there after all? Have I made out a will? Is this digestive Armageddon?

0:53: Like clouds clearing after a rainy day, my thoughts are becoming clearer. The shrimp may actually be digesting, though how there's any room for such activity is beyond me. The brownie I just ate is at war with the shrimp. The shellfish have the numbers - things could get ugly. Co-workers are avoiding me.

0:56: Marching two by two, hurrah. Hurrah. The saints go marching in. Shrimp salad. Shrimp stew. Shrimp stir-fry. *Burp* What's rosebud? Is everybody happy? I want everybody to be happy. I know I'm happy. Ah, that tastes nice. Thank you. Et tu, Brute? The earth is suffocating . . . Swear to make them cut me open, so that I won't be buried alive. I am not the least afraid to die. Do you hear the rain? What was that sound? Adieu, mes amis. Je vais la gloire.

0:58: Fever, vomitting, diarrhea: they're starting to sound like a blessing.

0:59: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

There was dabs of horseradish and bits of discarded shell on my notebook. I'm assuming I didn't complete the task, but no matter. It's the attempt that counts, right? I've learned that the original record setter is now dead, probably because the human body wasn't designed to digest more than two pounds of shrimp on any given day.

My co-workers found me in a slump on the floor of the breakroom. Before I cashed out I was babbling something about dead eagles and the turkey being the legitimate national bird, but not before I had made a mess out of my teammate's workstation:

I learned, above all, that I'm not allergic to shrimp. And that's good, because a world without shrimp is a world I don't want to live in.

Besides, this was just a warm-up for Thanksgiving. And there's always next year.

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