Sunday, September 21, 2008

Competition

The male of the species is a funny thing. Centuries of genetic programming and survival instincts dictate that we are in constant competition with each other. Whether it's climbing the corporate ladder or playing a game of Monopoly, we want to win at all costs. This is sometimes apparent in very subtle circumstances that shouldn't be competitive at all, such as a visit to White Castle.

On a recent trip to Nashville, I was traveling with two business companions from very different backgrounds. But let's focus on Tito (not his real name). Tito is an entrepreneur, well educated at an historically black college, a father of two kids in private school, and married to a wife who sits high on the totem pole of her corporation. He has a great sense of humor and we spent most of the week throwing racial stereotypes at each other just for fun, seeing who could top the other one.

Tito is bigger than me, although only by a couple of notches of the belt. He often jokes that he doesn't miss many meals, and I suppose the same argument could me made about me. It's hard to go hungry when we manage restaurants for a living. I have actually been trying to eat healthy and exercise in an effort to lose weight, but a week away from home marked a return to convenient over-eating, which peaked on the last day, on our way out of town, on a visit to White Castle.

I was eying the menu board as Tito began to order a pitiful combo of 3 White Castles, fries, and a Coke. When he added a chicken sandwich, I saw my opening. Shame was my tactic of choice as I baited him on the hook.

Me- "You're only getting three White Castles? This may be the last time you get to eat White Castle for months. You'd better get some to take home with you. Why don't we split that Combo #3. Twenty White Castles and four fries and we can add a couple of Cokes. Or you can get some fruit punch. I know how you people like that stuff."

Tito- "First of all, it's drink. Fruit drink. Second of all, that's a good idea you got there, Jew boy."

I'm not Jewish, however this had been a recurring theme over the week. After all, what's more stereotypically white than Judaism? So Tito changes the order and decides to up the ante on me when the lady behind the counter wants to know if he still wants the extra chicken sandwich. He does, which prompts me to add on a pulled bbq sandwich in an effort not to be outdone. Oh, yeah. It's on. Tito settles for a large soda, and in order to establish my dominance, I am forced into a jumbo. This was part of Tito's strategy, I was to find out later.

At the table, we divvy up the food and settle in. There has been no mention of a contest mind you, but as the ketchup is squeezed from tiny packets, we are clearly sizing each other up. I make an early decision to start with the bbq sandwich, to get it out of the way first. Tito leaves the chicken sandwich for later. I was one bbq sandwich and six White Castles in when he broke the silence.

Tito- "So what, man, you ain't drinking no soda?"

I noticed his cup was almost full as I removed my lid to reveal a cup half empty. This did not sit well with my opponent.

Tito- "Damn. You're doing pretty good over there, man. Hey, I don't think I like this chicken sandwich. It's kinda..."

He might as well have thrown in the towel. Making excuses not to eat all he had ordered? He should have lead with the chicken sandwich. My game plan was clearly superior, but with two White Castles to go, I hit the wall. I did not want to take another bite of tiny burger, but I was unwilling to suffer defeat. I would win at all costs. Victory would be mine. I disconnected my brain, and soldiered on.

Tito- "Man, you're like that skinny Japanese guy that can eat all those hot dogs. Alright, man. I gotta give it to you. You win."

Keep in mind that this competition was completely unspoken, and yet a winner was declared. That winner was me. Men are always trying to outdo each other. How else can you explain the Hummer, or 72 inch plasma TV's? We are constantly striving to have more, do more, be more than the guy next to us. And what is our motivation? Why do we do it? What is the prize for being number 1? My prize was simply sleeping in the back seat all the way back to Atlanta, a full belly, and knowing I had given my best. Until next time, Tito!

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

You are a testament to American overindulgence, and I salute you sir. :)

Da Vintner said...

We are so proud of you. :-)

The Saucier said...

10 sliders, a BBQ sammich and a few fries? Pitiful. I trained you better than that.

Talk to me after 20 Krystals, fries and a large tea. Then we can go get something to eat.