A hero?

The Aurora (Labrador City) - - FRONT PAGE - Steve Bartlett

Colum­nist Steve Bartlett re­calls the joy of be­ing a hero – sort of – for a day.

They were chant­ing my name. “Gret­zky! Gret­zky! Gret­zky!” Oops, sorry wrong mem­ory.

But many in the crowd gath­ered around the col­lege square were shout­ing, “Doyle! Doyle! Doyle!”

OK, that’s not my han­dle and I’m not re­lated to any­one named Doyle, like Alan or “Re­pub­lic of.”

Doyle was the name of the univer­sity res­i­dence I was rep­re­sent­ing in an elite, com­pet­i­tive show­case — the blueberry pie-eat­ing con­test for first-year stu­dents. The Doylies were cheer­ing for me. To un­der­stand the pres­tige in­volved, you must know some his­tory. Sorry.

Doyle House is named af­ter John C. Doyle, an Amer­i­can schemer who swin­dled the New­found­land gov­ern­ment and fled in the 1970s af­ter be­ing charged with 400 counts of fraud.

He lived in Panama as a fugi­tive un­til his death in 2000.

If there ever was a role model to open minds and in­spire fu­ture gen­er­a­tions!

Any­way, the stakes of the pieeat­ing con­test were CN Tower high.

The win­ner got a uni­ver­sity­la­beled beer glass and some pretty se­ri­ous brag­ging rights for the re­sume down the road.

Fu­ture job in­ter­viewer: “Be­sides your arts de­gree, what do you con­sider your great­est aca­demic ac­com­plish­ment?”

Me, as a new univer­sity grad: “I won the blueberry pie-eat­ing con­test in first year.”

In­ter­viewer: “OMG! You’re hired — as CEO! Our company is in ca­pa­ble hands. Wel­come, Boss! Could we dis­play your beer glass in our foyer?”

This fu­ture or the beer glass weren’t on my mind as I was face and eyes into a blueberry pie the size of a Bell satel­lite dish.

Com­peti­tors had to eat these de­li­cious mon­sters with hands be­hind their back, and the first to fin­ish was the win­ner.

Within min­utes, I scarfed down half the pie and, cov­ered from crown to clav­i­cle in blueberry pie fill­ing, I looked like the guy in that Gavis­con com­mer­cial.

Ac­tu­ally, about then, I could have used a gal­lon of Gavis­con.

Be­cause I was feel­ing blah, and since you may be read­ing this dur­ing a meal, I’ll spare you fur­ther de­scrip­tion.

I mo­men­tar­ily threw in the towel and stepped back from the pie. But then I heard those chants … “Doyle! Doyle! Doyle!”

Dis­ap­point­ing the cheer­ing masses wasn’t de­sir­able. Fit­ting in with my new housemates and be­ing their cham­pion was. So I re­fo­cused on the pie and started in again.

It got more grotesque and sick­en­ing with ev­ery bite, but I ploughed through. Un­til I won!

The crowd roared loudly as I ducked un­der the ta­ble to retch.

I rose up a cham­pion, and hoisted my beer glass as if it was Game Seven and I had won Lord Stan­ley’s mug.

It was the first time Doyle House had ever cap­tured the com­pe­ti­tion. I ate up the adu­la­tion. It was my 15 min­utes of fame (or lame; up to you).

I re­flect on that day won­der­ing two things — should I have be­come a pro­fes­sional hot­dog eater like Takeru Kobayashi and why isn’t my feat cel­e­brated or ac­knowl­edged any­where on the in­ter­net?

Se­ri­ously, though, I look back to that con­test with fond mem­o­ries, but also re­mem­ber a les­son learned in col­lege — that peer/beer pres­sure can make you do fool­ish, even dan­ger­ous, things.

To this year’s batch of new stu­dents: en­joy the univer­sity ex­pe­ri­ence to the fullest.

But take it from me: you don’t have to eat the whole pie for it to be a slice.

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