To my immediate right, a rotund man with a leathery face had a line of chili-filled tasting cups in front of him with a spork sticking out of each one. He meticulously scraped each one clean, one at a time. He gave himself just enough time after each cup to make a dissatisfied, almost insulted face before moving onto the next one.
My buddy Masseur was to my left. This would have been his year, and he knew it, had he entered. An uneaten sample lay on a guardrail to our left. I set it there, having lost my appetite once and for all to a stray hair hanging from said sample cup.
Ah yes, another Dick’s Bar chili contest – or, as I affectionately call it, the Dick’s Bar Fuck-Up-Your-Chili Contest.Twenty-six crock-pots of what-the-fuck sat throughout the bar, their makers serving them to the unsuspecting masses. It was beyond killing an ant with a sledgehammer; this was trying to kill an ant with a sledgehammer, missing the ant, and bashing a pothole in your newly-paved driveway. It was the chili contest equivalent of Gucci Mane’s face. Killing time before the Super Bowl never felt so grisly.
Moving through Dick’s was like playing Snake after your tail has gotten 20 feet long: Walking sideways with lifted arms and sucked-in abdomens, trying not to lose our sporks, getting stuck next to an ominous-looking pot but taking a sample anyway. It was like a filming of Saw IX: Being in Public. Inside every Crock-Pot was a death mask and a ticking stopwatch.
There was the whiffed swing at a classy chili, served with cilantro leaves on top that blew off your spoon right away. There was the Cincinnati Five-Way Failure, with cut-up pieces of fettuccini mixed in that chewed like Spaghetti-Os. Two tables from that, the impossible became flesh when someone fucked up a white chicken chili (so basically, being sober and fucking up the alphabet).
A guy ruined otherwise good-looking chili with corn. Fucking CORN, okay: If it’s not on the cob, it’s in the trash. We clear on this, people? Meanwhile, Masseur found a chili with bacon, yay! Except it was burnt and tasted like it was chucked in at the last second.
One chili was topped with chunks of hardboiled egg. How the human brain possibly comes to decide this is a good idea, totally beyond me. I presume LSD is involved. But it drew a huge crowd and probably won, because it was called “Morning Wood Chili” and we’re a society of aging adolescents.
An aside that matters: I spent an unfortunate three or four seconds in line next to an elderly female judge wearing a red skimpy dress and devil horns. I was taken back to a heinous night at a Superior strip club, where a shriveled-up, gummy old bag in a devil costume approached my friend and me to offer a lap dance. The second-hand embarrassment skittering through me was indescribable … until my friend asked a stripper for her phone number later that night and I felt it again. Now I’m pretty sure I could describe it perfectly.
Anyway: We can trust the Danny Trejo-looking guy wearing a chili-pepper-patterned shirt and matching bandana, right? Nope! It was hot, but the taste of this entry was overwhelmed by Tobasco sauce. People don’t realize there is such a thing as “the wrong heat.” This was the same heat you feel in your butt if you poop too hard, but you were feeling it in your mouth. Right next to it was its polar opposite, a spicy Thai chili that was served cold. Ever taken a can of kidney beans off a supermarket shelf and eaten it without heating it up first? That’s exactly what it was like.
The only chili that tasted good was the first one I had, called “Smoking Ass Chili.” Masseur and I went back for seconds on the way out. The rest of my Super Bowl Sunday was probably the same as yours: a beer someplace else, cook pizza, football, Beyonce, more football, lights go boom, 15 more minutes guys, 15 more minutes guys, 15 more minutes guys, 15-20 more minutes guys, WTF the Niners are coming back, WTF no they’re not, later Masseur, in the car.
Fade to black.