Hero 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 pieeating 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 university-labelled 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 7 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.