"Competition of the Week" story # 6

Big Rapids, Michigan           September 21, 2001

Opening, *BONUS* stats! Jobs found during my third week back in Michigan: me: 2 (a job waiting tables during the day at Arnie's Restaurant, and a job waiting tables third-shift at 24-hour Steak N' Shake) Sergei, the exchange student: 0

My third week at home quickly became a work-filled fourth, and I began collecting tips for a return trip to South America.
     Having recently returned from the Kayak-Fun Noodle-River Joust, I was pleasantly surprised to count Sergei among the survivors. Perhaps it was only a coincidence, but two days after being attacked by anaconda-sized fun noodles and falling into the Patagonia-chilly Pine River, Sergei flew home to Spain.
     Sergei's departure meant the loss of someone who captured well the spirit, in name at least, of the "Competition of the Week" program - not by being competitive at all, but rather by being so weak. Though not for his skill, the kid would be missed for his enthusiasm.
     The Sergei-less "Competition of the Week" 4 followed, a battle to wear the most clothes.
     I visited the college apartment of my good friend, Bill "Pancho" Wolbrink (who you may remember as a "Date of the Week" XVII double-dater, or as my sweetchum chum), for the contest. A few of us began preparing. Pancho retired to his room, and I started sorting through the car-full of clothes I'd thrown on the couch.
     I stripped down and started with two pairs of tight, white underwear, one over the other. I followed this with six pairs of boxer underwear, a swimsuit, and two shorts. My final two pairs of boxer "under"wear were worn OVER ten articles of clothing. To stay warm, I put on seven t-shirts.
     As the twelfth sock was being forced on my feet, Pancho's door open. Pancho, a big guy to begin with, came out wearing a hippo's skin in white t-shirts, which he estimated as "seventeen shirts." A horrible arch had formed at his neck, where all that cotton had bunched into a hump. He wore a bunch of shorts. "The trick is to layer everything in the right order," he said.
     We weren't finished.
     I put on a lightweight collared shirt, my aqua Fijian shirt, and five more short-sleeve shirts. I tied a blue bandana around my head, pulled on one pair of pants, fastened a belt, and stretched a baggy pair of black windpants over top.
     Two long-sleeve shirts were added, followed by two pairs of wool socks, my Steak N' Shake apron, two more belts to ensure my pants were kept up, one silk and one thick green robe, a tie so I looked professional, then five more ties, a scarf, and a bulky winter coat. I stuffed six hats on my head, added a fisherman's cap, adorned a batting glove, donned two pairs more of gloves, sported some sunglasses, and vested another pair of sunglasses. A sombero and sandals completed the outfit.
     The contest's third competitor, "H-Dog," showed up, saying, "I couldn't get past twenty-nine (articles of clothing)." His blue jeans looked thick, and he wore a black hooded sweatshirt, a thick coat, and sunglasses and a baseball cap. He didn't look all that strange, just fatter.
     Pancho had just finished pulling socks on for the past three minutes. His weight feet were "like boulders." His round, smooth face looked hillarious, sticking out from above eight ties. He put a vest on and tucked in the ties, saying, "I don't want to look like a jackass!" He added glasses, a baseball cap and winter hat, a blue scarf, a football jersey, gloves, a pair of green pants, green shorts over-top, a backpack that practically required him to dislocate his arms to put on, and a towel over his back.
     Pancho, with his green lower body and blue-and-yellow upper body, looked like an unsuccessful super hero, sporting the number 18 on his chest.
     I, meanwhile, with my robes, coat, ties, scarf, sunglasses, hats, and wool socks visible, resembled a multiple-gold-medal-winning Mexican skiier who pimps his lovely chiquitas at night.
     Due to the weight it had to support, my neck was killing me. I walked to my car to retrieve my camera, collecting strange looks on the way. Being as it was night and I was wearing two pairs of sunglasses, I could hardly see the triple-gloved hand in front of my face. Wearing all those gloves, I fumbled my car keys like a baby grasping a pencil.
     Pancho could hardly fold his body into a sitting position, but we took some photos in the building lounge.
     We hadn't gotten all dressed up to just sit around the college! Heck, Pancho and I had on fourteen ties.
     We were going out. To McDonald's.
     Leaving the building, some chuckling college girls were ahead of us. I asked one, "Could you imagine fooling around with a guy like this and trying to get his clothes off?"
     "Yeah," she said, thinking about it, "three years later ..."
     H-Dog was okay to drive. Pancho and I packed into the car; I took caution not to disrupt my sombero.
     Pulling up to McDonald's, we could feel the sweat tainting layer after layer of toasty clothing, probably necessitating an unprecendented laundry run the next day. We got out of the car, and we could see all the members of a young family slowly turn towards us and start laughing.
     I, myself, still couldn't stop turning red with laughter over Pancho's green shorts-over-non-matching green pants fashion breakthrough.
     We walked in, got in line, and began answering questions about our contest. The majority sentiment seemed to be that I was going to win, though Pancho and I knew it would be close. We all knew one thing, though; H-Dog was a goner.
     A tall, black girl stood in front of us, in an argument with her boyfriend on her cell phone, and Pancho asked if she'd told her boyfriend about us yet.
     "Tell him I say, 'Hi," Pancho said.
     "He says, 'Hi."
     "And that I'm wearing nine pairs of socks."
     Just then, we could hear screams over the phone, and the boyfriend demanded to know what guys his girlfriend was talking to. Pancho decided to leave her alone.
     A curious toddler wandered over to us, probably mistaking us for characters he'd seen on cartoons. Pancho gave him a hi-five in a powerful scene that reminded me of when E.T. touched fingers with his friend, except that this boy was more traumatized.
     The McDonald's employees laughed and donated a prize to our contest's winner that he certainly wouldn't need: another piece of clothing - a McDonald's hat.
     We drove back to the apartment, struggling with our gloves to fumble our straws through our shake lids.
     Pancho was drenched in sweat, and my neck was about to fall off. After two hours, we began taking the clothes off. The countdown began.
     It was slightly suspenseful.
     H-Dog ended with 33 articles of clothing. Pancho and I had taken off most of our clothes, forming to giant heaps, and we'd yet to count our socks. I held an 8-article of clothing lead.
     We took off sock after sock, counting as we went. Each ended with sixteen socks, though, making the final score: me - 79, Pancho - 71.
     And so, "Competition of the Week" 4's winner: me!
     Woohoo! I win a McDonald's hat!
     Actually, I don't even like McDonald's. And I don't wear hats, either - except for when I wear eight of them at once.
     But, it sure feels good to win.

later, Modern Oddyseus (3-1)

Add'l stats. Articles of clothing:
me Pancho H-Dog
Shirts 16 19 8
Pants 15 12 6
Socks 16 16 10
Hats 7 4 2
Ties 6 8 0
Gloves 5 2 2
Scarfs 2 2 0
Robes/Coats 3 3 1
Glasses 2 1 1
Backpacks 0 1 0
Aprons 1 0 0
Belts 3 1 1
Bandanas 1 0 0
Towels 0 1 0
Shoes 2 2 2
Total 79 71 33

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