All right, kiddos – go fire up the coffee pot and get ready for the next installment of “Gluttony”.
All right – got that coffee? Then enjoy these fabulous entries.
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First up – Sandy from Rest of Our Days
The Deadly Sin of Gluttony and the Happy Meal
I picked up the tray from the counter, piled high with food. This was a lone trip. A quick stop of convenience to refuel from the long drive.
I would need to find a table to check my e-mail—the place now had free Wi-Fi. As I scanned the fast food establishment, a single empty table became my destination. I weaved through the bolted down tables, avoiding the kids running noisily through the aisles, chicken nuggets drenched in dipping sauce in one hand, fries in the other.
I plunked my bum down on the hard seat and sat staring at the mound of cardboard containers in front of me. Carefully opening each package, adding ketchup and salt. Placing the straw in the massive cup of Coke.
Had I really just said yes when asked if I wanted to Large Size my order?
Oh yes, indeed, I had.
I really only wanted a small hamburger and a few fries. Something to sustain me. Fuel me.
But the meal sat untouched. A pile of fries like Everest with salt sticking to each little stick. A massive paper cup, the size of a milk jug, full of sugary Coke. A leaning tower of two all beef patties oozing special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions over the sesame seed bun.
As the ditty played over and over in my head I looked up at the circus surrounding me.
Fat people, skinny people, all ages, all sizes. Men, women and children squirming in their chairs with mounds of food in front of them. Some sitting with excited expressions as mommy placed the Happy Meal in front of them, opened the ketchup pack, put the straw in the drink. Saving the toy until they ate all their food. There was even a full size clown to add to the circus atmosphere over by the Playplace.
Most people were mindlessly chomping. Taking big bites from their large sized orders. Not talking. Just staring in the distance as the noise swirled around them.
As I watched them, it seemed as if each bite they took got bigger and bigger and the food appeared to be inhaled. Bite. Swallow. There didn’t seem to be a lot of chewing going on. From where I sat, I could see the line for the drive-thru window getting longer and longer. The atmosphere of gluttony descended over me. I felt like I was in an alternate universe.
Visions of starving kids in Africa came to mind, dying from lack of food. As my brain transposed the gaunt faces with the faces of the chubby kids in front of me, the soulful, begging eyes remained the same. The same pleas to “help me” were wordlessly conveyed. These kids in front of me were dying from too much food.
I picked up my tray of uneaten food and dumped it in the garbage can conveniently located by the door.
As I pushed through the door to leave, I stepped around a pudgy, teary-eyed little boy holding a broken toy from his Happy Meal. “It’s ok”, said the mom. “We’ll get another one next time.”
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Next Up: Darla from She’s A Maineiac
I always feel a roar in the pit of my stomach right before it starts. Could be nerves, I suppose. Or just hunger. Maybe it’s because I’ve prepared for weeks, sometimes months for this moment. I do the normal body cleanse, clean out all the pipes, so to speak. Then Ma clicks the stopwatch and it’s GO TIME. I’ve always been good at it. Ma says when I was a baby I would eat three jars of sweet potatoes, one right after the other, then scream for more. I was always hungry, always crying.
My personal best is 53 hot dogs in ten minutes 56 seconds. The trick is lots of ketchup–helps them dogs slide on down smooth as melted butter. When I start, there’s nothing like it, almost a religious experience. My body takes over and I start inhaling them, sucking them down, filling myself up so fast I could swallow the entire universe if I wanted to.
Sometimes I can feel them staring at me, as much disgusted by me as they are thrilled by me. Let ’em gawk. I don’t give two shits about them anyway. Once the first chunk goes down and my mouth is stuffed, it’s just me against the food. The goddamn food. And I always win. Always. Until the summer of 2005 in Coney Island.
I can pinpoint the exact moment it all when to hell for me. I lost my first contest. Lost to a girl from Japan who was no heavier than a sack of flour–looked like her entire body was nothin more than a pile of bones slapped together with some skin. I knew I was in trouble when she sized me up just before the buzzer went off. Her shifty eyes daring me, taunting me. I had half a mind to stand up right there in front of everybody and swallow her whole. I regret I didn’t get the chance. Not 10.32 minutes later, she had won. Beat me by five whole hot dogs. FIVE. And I was left to sit there like a stuffed pig, still choking. Ma wasn’t happy with me that day. There was big money at stake and she was already three months behind on the mortgage.
Soon Miyu was winning every contest, hamburgers, crabcakes you name the food and she was always at least five to ten ahead of me at the end. But this next contest was it. The prize was $10,000. Enough to keep Ma happy for a bit.
The buzzer went off and I did my thing. For hours at home I had practiced my new move. I could almost get two of them down my throat at once. But it was tricky. For a split second I’d almost stop breathing, like I was drowning in the grease and fat. But I’d push on through cuz I had to. I had to beat that goddamn girl.
About a minute into the race I glanced down the line at Miyu, she was staring straight ahead, her eyes black and unfeeling, her hands popping the hot dogs in so fast it was a blur. She was in The Zone. I was falling out. In a stupid move I crammed three in my mouth at once and something happened. I knew it was bad. The screams of the crowd faded into this buzzing noise. Things began to get real hazy and I thought I saw Ma standing over me, crying. I don’t remember standing up, or falling forward, smashing into the table, ketchup and mustard and hot dogs flying every which way. Soon the crowd was all around me and I was looking up at the sky, so clear and blue. So beautiful.
Like I could swallow the entire universe.
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Finally, this gem from 1 Point Perspective :
Willie Prader, Private Eye – Deadly Sin Series –
“A Glutton For Punishment”
Willie Prader had a bad feeling about this one. Like maybe he’d bit off more than he could chew.
The leggy blonde named Crystal had sauntered through the door and into his life just a week before. For someone who made his living being observant, he should have learned by now – trouble was always blonde, and it always sauntered.
The job was simple. She was convinced that her husband was cheating. Willie’d been a private dick since Moses was a pup, but still had to wonder what kind of guy cheats on a bombshell like this dame. She had the face of a starlet, and he couldn’t help but notice how her legs got together and made an ass of themselves.
Prader parked his battered Lincoln at the White Castle across the highway from the Palace Diner and waited. The guy drove a ’68 Fleetwood, so he’d be hard to miss. When Mr. Light finally pulled up at the Palace, Prader was amazed to find out just how hard to miss he actually was. The guy got out of the Caddy and the chassis elevated like one the Impalas the kids drive out in L.A. Only this car didn’t have complicated hydraulics, it heaved up because the guy who got out of it had to tip the scales at five bills or more. He leaned down and checked his massive face in the little mirror on the door, then shifted his bulk toward the diner entrance.
Prader chuckled to himself. He never would’ve guessed that a doll like Crystal would be married to a guy who looked like he was built when meat was cheap. He leaned back on the Lincoln, lit a Lucky and watched across the lanes of blacktop as the round man somehow crammed himself into a booth. The waitress was hovering at his table, spending too much time for someone who should be hustling up and down the aisle slinging hash for tips. She laughed and smiled at him, touching his arm as he shifted his attention between her and the glossy menu.
Willie decided to get a closer look at this little romance. He jogged across the highway and stood in the shadows just outside the neon glow of the flickering sign. He considered his surroundings, making sure he wouldn’t be too conspicuous. He looked back up to the window and saw the booth was empty. For a minute, he thought maybe he was looking at the wrong booth. Just then, he felt the massive ham-hand grip his arm like a vise. He was pretty sure the pain in his ribs was the business end of a Colt, maybe a Baretta. The man-mountain pushed him toward the diner door and the barrel of the handgun kept him moving.
Light stared at him across the booth with tired eyes. The waitress looked at Prader with just a hint of dull surprise after putting three platters down in front of the big man. She smiled briefly at Light as she left.
“My wife sent you snooping” Light declared. “She knows I’m cheating,” he continued, “but look at this plate of sausage and eggs with hash browns. Do you have any idea how many points that meal is? Sorry pal, but I can’t lose Crystal because of what you or some team of cardiologists tell her.”
Prader swore at himself as he lay bound and gagged in the trunk of the Caddy, probably on his way to a landfill. If he got out of this alive, he’d need to listen closer to clients, especially the blonde ones.