It hurts: standing up, sitting, lying down – there is no comfortable position. My stomach is visibly distended from one meal, a meal consumed some four hours ago. I ate fifteen coneys. I’m lying in bed sweating; my sweat smells of chili. How was this a good idea?
During our last visit, we noticed the wall of fame: eating ten coneys was the requirement to have your picture on the wall, nineteen was the record. There was one dog, Guinness – he had eaten eleven. Surely Nate and I could beat a dog. We decided that tonight would be our moment of glory. We skipped lunch and as the afternoon slipped toward evening, our hunger grew. We let it; it was our great weapon.
We walked the mile to Skyline, adding an edge to our appetites. On this Tuesday night the restaurant was nearly empty. We took seats at a large table in the back, lords of our corner, plenty of room for our feast. We told our waitress our intentions, she clarified the rules: no time limit, just eat as many coneys as possible; no using the bathroom; no puking; all coneys must be consumed the traditional way – orally. We asked for twelve each. She suggested we start at six, but Nate and I felt proud, we would start with twelve. Dave and Laura arrived to cheer us on right before our army of coneys was prepared.
Three plates were placed before each of us, four coneys on a plate. The cheese, liberally piled on the coneys, blended together, giving the appearance of one massive food item. In hindsight, that appearance may have been prescient. We dug in. The first few coneys disappeared in a matter of seconds from each of our plates. We are big guys; coneys individually are a light snack. Quickly we passed the six our waitresses had originally suggested we start with. We kept consuming, but more slowly. The great strength of coneys is in their numbers. At ten each we paused. We had made it onto the wall already. Nate was flushed, the sweat pouring freely off his brow. I still felt fine.
I started eating my way through the plate again. Flavor was gone at this point – it should be obvious to anyone that’s been reading that I love Skyline. I couldn’t taste it. The only flavor that stood out was the bread, a bitter taste that made me work to consume each coney. There was room left in my stomach, I just had to convince my mouth that it wanted to get the food down to it. Small sips of water lubricated the works, letting the masticated pulp slide down my gullet – all flavor gone. I could feel the grease building in my mouth as I wiped out my twelfth coney. I had beaten Guinness. Nate had finished half of his eleventh. Our waitress came over to take our pictures; I told her I wasn’t done, I ordered two more.
As I began fighting my way through these reinforcements, I asked for just a bit of Dr Pepper – enough to re-energize my palette, enough to remind it that I was putting food in my mouth. I knew I still had room, but swallowing was no longer automatic. I finished off the fourteenth, mixing bites of coney with sips of Dr Pepper to cut the bitterness of the bun. Nate was still recovering, staring at the one and a half coneys on his plate. I broke out my iPhone, and queued up Eye of the Tiger. With the classic 80s anthem blasting at our table, Nate regrouped and took the last half of his eleventh coney into his mouth and swallowed it nearly whole. I grabbed his last coney – my fifteenth. The first half went down quick, to the accompaniment of the music. The second half sat in my mouth. I had chewed it until it lost any consistency, but the muscles at the back of my throat were simply unwilling to swallow – I felt like an innocent girl on prom night. Everyone’s eyes were on me as I took a last sip of Dr Pepper and leaned my head back. Through the power of gravity and intense determination, I managed to will the last bit of liquified coney down into my stomach.
I felt better than I expected. I was full, but did not feel sick. The worst sensation was that of grease lining my mouth, and the bitter flavor of the buns coating my tongue. I bought a peppermint patty at the register to offset it – the waitress laughed at this. If I could eat this bit of candy, couldn’t I eat another coney? Not if it had to pass through my mouth.
We walked home, to let the massive load of food settle in our stomachs. The oppressive humidity became the first real sign we were in the south. The more time spent in this outdoor sauna, the fuller I felt. The skin over my abdomen growing taut. I tried to belch to relieve the pressure, but quickly realized that no gas would come out unaccompanied by the liquified mass that I was trying to contain. I had earned a place on the wall for my photo, I had no intention of soiling that honor. We continued homeward, commiserating over the pain food can cause.
It’s some four hours later now, and I can’t sleep. The pressure has spread throughout my abdomen. I’m thirsty, but I cannot drink water without increasing the pain. My mouth still feels disgusting, despite meticulous brushing. I feel like a water balloon, filled to near bursting, with limbs haphazardly attached. This is not gastronomical glory, I did not conquer Skyline; Skyline conquered me – and I paid for it! Tomorrow should be a fun day of scootering.