You know, so many stupid things happened while we were deployed. Stuff so ridiculous that I can’t believe we didn’t hurt ourselves permanently. Well, maybe we did and we just don’t know it yet. For some reason, though, a lot of it had to do with food.
We had eating contests all the time. We were all so damn bored that even the platoon leaders got into them. The section leader, and believe it or not, the platoon commander. A freakin’ officer out there with a bunch of privates and other non-NCOs joining in an eating contest.
We were living in a hole in the middle of nowhere for awhile, but for some reason they brought out cooks and they set up right next to us. Usually we hate them, because we’re grunts [infantry] and they’re POGs [persons other than grunts], but we were starving to death out there, so it was nice that somebody would actually feed us now. So, we made friends with them and they’d give us food all the time. Or we’d just steal it. Nobody seemed to notice.
So one time we decided to have a race to see who could eat a four pound can of peaches first. It was that awful crap from the T-rations that they served in the chow halls. Whatever. The rules were that you had to eat all of it. You were allowed to puke, but you still had to finish everything in the can. We should have predicted it was going to be a mess.
Well, three of my buddies started eating, and the platoon commander was in on that one, too. They ate like maniacs for about three minutes, but then you could see they were starting to slow down. Those cans were huge, lukewarm and absolutely disgusting. They never taste good. But here they were eating as much as they could. By the way, there was no prize. You just got to say you won. It was pathetic.
So soon one of my friends starts to look sick. And then he gags a couple of times. But, like an idiot, he keeps eating. I couldn’t believe it. Well, then he pukes all over the place. The guy next to him is so grossed out that he starts puking, too – into his can of peaches. Then they all start to puke for a moment. On themselves, into their peaches, and on the ground. Half of us got sick just watching. It was positively vile. Ralf gurgling out of their noses and dripping off their chins. But you know what, when they stopped, they kept eating. Seriously. One of them stopped puking, looked down and said, “well, I gotta eat this.” Unbelievable.
There they were, tears streaming from their faces, clutching their guts with one hand, and shoveling peaches into their mouths with those cheap plastic MRE spoons. And in the end, most of them couldn’t even finish. The lieutenant won. I’m still amazed he even participated. And he was puking, too.
We had a salsa chugging contest one day. Large squeeze bottles of medium Picante sauce. I came in second – killing two whole bottles in 19 seconds. I was pretty annoyed that I lost, because I drank salsa all the time anyway. I mean, 19 seconds? I didn’t think anybody would beat it, but they did. I felt pretty sick for awhile.
Somebody got the bright idea one day to do the same thing with five-pound cans of peas, which was just as stupid. I’m surprised nobody’s stomach exploded, too. And then nobody could even finish anyway, so it was declared a draw.
I think the very worst was when we had the gravy-eating contest. It was the T-rations stuff that comes in the big pans. That white gravy with chunks of unidentifiable meat swimming in it. The crap that all southerners put on their biscuits every breakfast. It was hideous. And once again, no prize. Just the honor of saying you won.
So they all go to town on these pans, and of course some of them start hurling all over the place, and then everybody else gets so grossed out that they do, too. It was an amazing display of human retardation. But they kept eating until one-by-one, they all started to give up. My section leader won that one, but he hadn’t barfed at all, so he just curled up in a ball whimpering. Before long, he was begging for somebody to shoot him. He felt that bad. But, I guess he won, though. These were our leaders, mind you.
The worst one that I was involved in was a maple syrup chugging contest. One of our guys had just watched a movie where they tried it, so he figured we should, too. Idiot. And we did, myself included. But holy damn it was gross. I was always good at chugging beers, so I figured I’d do okay at it. I finished two bottles in about two minutes, which wasn’t bad.
But then I had to go on post right after that. I didn’t feel too badly at first, but all the sudden, I started heaving like I was giving myself a hernia. It hurt horribly. It was so thick that nothing was coming up. So I drank both my canteens, hoping that the water would make me feel a little better. Nope.
I started projectile vomiting over the edge of the tower and onto the ground. Everybody down on the ground was cheering, which was stupid. I begged them to bring me up some more water, and one of them brought up a 5-gallon jug of water and I just started drinking water and puking it all back up. I wanted to die. I puked at least twenty times up there. It was one of the stupidest things I’ve ever done.
You know, man, I’m amazed we didn’t kill ourselves with all the stupid things we did. Stretching our stomachs, blowing our guts when we retched. Here we are, supposedly the fiercest fighting force in the entire United States infantry, and we’re destroying our bodies out of boredom. It’s a good thing we didn’t stay longer than seven months over there each time. We might have tried to fly or something. Or shoot things off of each others’ heads. Actually, I think a few people tried that, too, but I didn’t know them. That’s just crazy.
Copyright © 2009, Ben Shaw
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