Slurry Beta

Infrequent ruminations on nothing.

Friday, July 28, 2006

The Legend of the 2003 Dakota County, Minnesota Milk Drinking Champion

The title is a bit misleading because legends, by definition, are romanticized distortions of truth. The legend you are about to read, however, is 100% verifiable truth…so this is more of a “Recollection of Facts” than anything else.

A few summers ago, on a pleasant weekday afternoon, Erik, Sam, Bear and I hopped into Erik’s maroon LeBaron convertible and drove out to Farmington, Minnesota to soak in the sights (fat people) and sounds (fat people eating cheese curds) of the Dakota County Fair. Upon entry to the fair grounds, we stopped by a tent offering free milk to enjoy some fresh milk and receive the essential vitamins and minerals we would need to make it through an evening of fried goods, talent shows, and demolition derbies. Plus, after the car ride over, we all had an undeniable urge to eat even though we weren’t that hungry. It was uncanny…almost chemically induced.

As we were drinking our cups of free milk, Erik spotted a small, handwritten sign in the back of the tent that read something to the effect of, “Jeff Hanson: 12 cups”. When he asked what the sign was all about, the tent worker told him that it was the current milk drinking record at the Dakota County Fair to which Erik immediately responded, “I could definitely beat that. I’m definitely going to beat that. What do you get if you set the record?”

“You get your name on a sheet of paper and we put it on the back of the tent,” the worker replied.

After some cost-reward analysis, we elected to head into the heart of the fair, ate a bunch of food, checked out an awkward talent show, had an awkward conversation with Erik’s teenage cousins who happened to be there, contemplated sneaking into the demolition derby, and decided to call it an evening. On our way out, we passed by the free milk stand again to find that the 12 cup record was still standing. Now, if you know Erik then you know he has the heart of a champion and true champions never pass up a chance to set records. As soon as Erik made eye contact with the milk tent worker, he knew it was on and started pouring the milk.

Erik impressively downed the first 6 cups in rapid succession. Pure confidence. He had a look of determination I hadn’t seen since we were pitted against each other in the Dupre 4 East, NBA2k Dreamcast challenge championship game. I mean, it was going to happen. Sam, Bear and I could feel the electricity in the air. We were going to witness one of the greatest achievements of the 2003 Dakota County Fair.

Cup seven, eight and nine went down a little slower, but Erik was still keeping a fantastic pace, taunting onlookers and letting out thunderous roars with each finished cup. Next to him, a 12 year old boy had begun making an impressive challenge. The pressure was on.

When Erik hit cups ten, eleven and twelve, he had slowed considerably and was starting to struggle a bit. He had tied the record but the taunting and intense hubris were gone. A slight look of self doubt crept onto Erik’s face as his complexion faded into a pale white. “Now I know why that kid only got to twelve,” Erik said, holding the record breaking cup. Slowly he began to drink one small sip at a time, stopping every once in awhile to gather himself. Eventually, Erik’s competitive spirit pulled through. He finished the cup, slammed it onto the ground and unleashed the most raucous celebration I have ever seen. “I AM THE DAKOTA COUNTY MILK DRINKING CHAMPION!” he screamed with his hands in the air. For the next five minutes or so, he pointed at and shouted into the faces of everyone who had gathered around to watch. Mothers and fathers ran to protect their children. Dogs were barking. Cars alarms started blaring. Policemen went for their guns. The rest of us nearly hyperventilated with laughter.

Then, all at once, the celebration stopped. Erik immediately turned around, walked five feet to the garbage can and puked….and puked….then puked some more. Honestly, it was horrific.

On our way out, Erik made sure to tell the milk tent worker to put his name up on the back of the tent. He had earned it after all. Unfortunately, the guy misspelled his name.

Some say that if you go to that very spot at the exact right time during the Dakota County Fair, you can still hear Erik violently hurling a record 13 cups of milk into a garbage can. That may just be a myth, though.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Story You've All Been Waiting For

When I was in high school I worked at the local grocery store, bagging groceries, stocking shelves and spending as much time as possible hiding in the milk cooler. I once got caught sleeping on toilet paper boxes in the warehouse by the Meat Guy but that story is for another post. Summer was, by far, the busiest time of year because the town I lived in had an economy based almost entirely on tourism, specifically fly fishing tourism. During those months, the town and outlying areas would essentially triple in population as people with summer homes and/or large ranches returned for vacation. One of those large ranches, the Sun Ranch, was owned by none other than Steven Seagal, breaker of bones and deliverer of cheesy lines. He actually liked the area so much that he filmed a movie in Ennis called “The Patriot”, which may be the single worst film in American history. Apparently, it would have never been seen if HBO didn’t pay $5 for the rights to air it. I don’t understand who wouldn’t want so see a movie with almost zero action scenes in which Steven plays a doctor with a secret CIA past whose daughter gets kidnapped by armed militia men determined to infect a small, isolated Montana town with a devastating virus that he eventually cures with flower pedals? Still perplexes me.

Anyway, he and his entourage/family would spend about a month at their multi-million dollar ranch home (shaped like the Ranch's sun logo), occasionally driving into town in a caravan of black suburbans (Licenses SUNRCH1-SUNRCH3 so nobody would be confused) to buy a whole pant load of groceries, all the while asking for the most ridiculous items that no Montana grocery would ever sell. On one fateful day in July, the black SUV caravan rolled into the parking lot and out came Steve, his bodyguard (seriously), his incredibly young wife, and about three or four kids ranging from about 8 to 18. I’m not sure how many were his but I assumed they all were because they all had eerily similar qualities: they were all incredibly obnoxious. The young, approximately 8 year old kid was, by far the worst; completely unhinged. (For the rest of the post, I’m calling him Ocho, which could quite possibly be his name.)

Ocho had apparently been mainlining Fun Dip and Asian Experience in the suburban. I could basically read the thoughts of some of the cowboys waiting in line as the checker rang up their purchases of every item in the store: “Goddamn, in my house, not a minute would go by when I wasn’t hitting that kid. Am I out of Copenhagen?”

I bagged up the mountain of groceries, placed them on a large, metal, two-wheeled cart and began gingerly taking the heavy load to the parking lot. Everyone in the Seagal entourage walked ahead of me and out to their cars but Ocho stayed behind and proceeded to place his foot in front of the cart’s wheels. I stopped abruptly to avoid crushing his foot, which would have certainly sent Steve into a knee cap stomping, throat puncturing rage reminiscent of “On Deadly Ground” or “Marked for Death”. Ocho continued to do this every 5 feet until I reached the suburban. As I attempted to place the groceries in the rear storage area, Ocho hopped into the back of the car, making it impossible for me to put any bags there. Eventually, someone told him to cut it out and he jumped out of the vehicle. When I finished loading, I slowly shut the back door to buy some time in case they planned on tipping me, which they didn’t. As I made my way back to the store, I glanced back at Ocho who was standing outside of the passenger door. He had peed his pants so bad that it was running down his leg and into his shoes.