Jon Ronson's late-2012 GQ piece on competitive eating contests is worth revisiting, given yesterday's Coney Island July Fourth hot dog homage to gluttony, that holiest of American attributes.
I am totally repulsed by these things, to the point that I can barely read the article and won't look at photos or video. This was worth it: Ronson calls the eaters "meat-smeared squirrels."
"Joey thinks your happiness is the reason you rarely win," I tell Bob.
"Oh, he knows it," Bob says. "I was talking to him Tuesday night. He said, 'Why aren't you training for the cupcakes?' I said, 'Joey, I got to pick up my daughter, drive her to dance class, drive my other daughter to basketball…' " A faraway look crosses Bob's face. "But when I'm at the table…I can't let on in an interview how seriously I take it, because I'd probably be committed to a mental hospital."
"What do you mean?" I ask.
"Time slows down," he says. "You don't hear the announcer. You just have this…flow."
"When were you last in that altered state?" I ask.
"Probably when I did ninety-five hamburgers [sliders] in eight minutes," Bob says. "I was just totally locked down." He pauses. "I know it's viewed as horror, shock, a sideshow. But when people see us up there, it blows them away. Which is why the groupies are insane."
"Groupies?!" I say.
"I'm thoroughly happily married, so I'm on the sidelines," says Bob. "But I've seen stuff. Doors open."
"I'd imagine it would be a turnoff," I say.
"Me, too." Bob shrugs. "But no."