One of the major drawbacks to showing an early aptitude for competitive watermelon seed spitting is the haste with which they whisk you off to the academy at the first sign of promise- sometimes as early as age 9. For me at least, getting caught up in the rush to find the next Blaine Gerhard (or for the girls, Demeter Monroe) deprived my career arc of many of the surprise turns that make life interesting, and I always found that disappointing. Of course, that disappointment was offset to some degree by the money, cars, women and drugs. They just hand them to you, at a young enough age that you can enjoy all these indulgences in a thoroughly uncomplicated way. But what if, on the fast track to stardom, I had discovered in year five that I had wanted nothing more than to work in, I dunno, a bulk candy store? Your early years of training are pretty jam-packed, with every minute of your day scheduled, but once you reach the professional touring circuit you suddenly find yourself on the road with a lot of time on your hands. For many of us, our training kicks in and, as if by rote, we spend those long hotel room hours studying film of our opponents, experimenting with new watermelon seed-spitting techniques, or having a personal trainer ice down our seed spitting muscles after a lengthy shiatsu massage session. For me, it was not the case; my problems began once I permitted myself to dream beyond my narrow world.

With my mind elsewhere, I began to slip down the leaderboard at most competitions. At the age when many of my contemporaries were hitting their career peaks, I began to fear that I had reached my apex with an obscure rulebook technicality-aided victory at the Arkansas County Fair, so I turned to performance-enhancing drugs to keep my name in the rankings. And while I wasn’t wild about the halitosis and sexual dysfunction that were side effects of the twelve daily injections that made up my regimen, I grew to really dislike the face I was seeing in the mirror (for reasons beyond the velvet-covered antlers budding from my forehead, a secondary effect the doctors had neglected to mention). So, after much deliberation, I decided not to return to the tour even after serving my two-year suspension for conduct unbecoming a professional watermelon seed spitter. Admittedly, my decision was made a bit easier by the fact that I had already been released from my endorsement contracts with King Vitaman cereal and Tag Heuer watches, but I was also never entirely comfortable with the fact that in 85 percent of all the photos ever taken of me, I have varying amounts of expectorate running down my chin. It’s been a tough road, but if I hadn’t taken it, I wouldn’t be able to pass this hard-earned wisdom on to you. So take my advice and get a half-pound of the gummi soda bottles; they’re extra fresh today.


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September 2011
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