By JEFF PICKELL
This week’s column shall recount the vigors my friends and I undertook in celebration of the Memorial Day weekend, among other things.
The First Annual Tri-County Watermelon Eating Contest Invitational was an inspiration and a delight.
The idea for the competition came to me in a vision—a vision of watermelon for sale at a local vendor, to which my valet Jimbo and I had traveled with the interest of purchasing a parcel of noodle salad. On sight of the immense green fruits, turgid in fecundity, I turned to Jimbo and instructed that we shall buy two plump specimens.
“I suspect we’ll stage a race of sorts, Jimbo,” I said. “It is only proper to eat a slice of watermelon or two on a balmy Memorial Day weekend, and that we do it in stiff competition—one that includes physical rigors as well as that rigor we undertake in shoving fruit down our maws.”
By tea time, we had rounded up five competitors—my brother, James; the voluble Tony Centofanti; James Dickey, a lay-about and amateur apothecary; a man we knew only as Chris; and, of course, myself.
The valet Jimbo never much cared for watermelon and volunteered himself as judge.
So it was that at 6 p.m., we competitors lined up on the southern edge of my courtyard, faced with the following challenge—to consume one slice of melon, sprint 20 fathoms, devour another slice, gallop a further 20 fathoms and touch a patio chair: all more quickly than the competition.
I had stacked the game against the only man I suspected a more fleet masticator than myself—my brother. Though he could ingest hogsheads of food in seconds, he had, until recently, weighed nearly 25 stone. While he has shed at least a third of that weight, I had recently undertaken to augment my own foot speed with circuit exercise and jumping jacks. Certainly, I thought, whatever time I lost in the mouth race would be made up in the foot race.
Scarcely could I have been more incorrect. Immediately after the starting firecracker detonated, I set myself at a substantial disadvantage by lunging into my fruit too brashly, knocking two large pieces onto the lawn. I finished the remainder of the slice with impressive clip, but my grasp was encumbered by the watery slickness on my palms. I had barely fished the first derelict chunk from the grass when James sprinted off with much apace.
Following soon after was Tony, and by the time I bounded to the second station, they were both well into their slices. Both touched the patio chair before I had even swallowed the last mouthful of my second watermelon.
My third place finish was remarkable only in that I rounded out the distinguished trio that touched the chair more than a minute before the final two pitiful competitors. However, all involved remained in good spirits and looked back on the contest with much praise and amicability. It is with such sentiments that I shall recall my time here at the Observer.
Speaking of: if my diction this week seems strangely garrulous, it is because I am practicing for my life’s next endeavor—to attend a graduate academy, where pretentious nincompoopery is the norm and discernible prose is reserved for proletarians.
So, it is with much solemnity that I announce that this shall be the final installment of the Standard Deviant, and that I shall depart Morenci soon.
However, it would be hideous and improper to be on my way without first thanking several inhabitants of Morenci and Environs, among them David Green, Colleen Leddy, Gene Beaverson, Chris Hylander, Joan Rice, Tom Spiess, Dee Potter, Dee Ferguson, Kyle Griffith, Anita Van Zile, Brad Whitehouse, Melissa Stewart, Chief Larry Weeks, Dominique Cox, James Wright, Chuck Ekins, Harriet Clark, Rich Foley, David Hankins, Valerie Salerno, Liz Stella, Sheri Frost, Sue Schaffner, Sally Canfield, the proprietors of the Morenci Pub, and innumerable others.
I thank you all for coming in and out of what have been the two most interesting and, well, quite indescribable years of my life.
Finally, for any who might have wondered how I fared on Saturday’s Graduate Record Examination, I am satisfied to say that I scored in the 93rd percentile on the portion with which I was most concerned. I shall not bore you with further report.
Thank you, and best wishes to all, especially Kim Ekins, whom I, personally, couldn’t imagine forgetting to include in a farewell column.– May 31, 2007