The Pancake Challenge

    People who know me know I’m very competitive.  Actually, since my “job” is to race against other people and try to beat them, you could probably guess that even if you didn’t know me.  Today, I am going to remember one of my crowning moments in the world of competition, so hop in the hot tub time machine with me, and let’s take a trip back in time.


   The year was 2003, and I was a junior in college.  I had just celebrated my 21st birthday with a delicious milkshake (no really, it was actually a milkshake, not a “milkshake”), and I had less than a month until school ended for the summer.  The world was full of promise and possibility.  Such was the atmosphere when I went with my friends to brunch at PJ’s Pancake House, a popular local eating establishment that, interestingly enough, specialized in pancakes.



   Now one thing you should know about me is that I LOVE pancakes, particularly if they are provided to me with some sort of flavor or topping on them, preferably chocolate chips.  So I went into this knowing that I would be eating a few pancakes.  However, when we got to the restaurant, my roommate presented me with a challenge.  If I could eat 15 of these pancakes in one sitting, he would pay for my meal.  Never one to turn down the prospect of free food, I accepted, and the challenge was on!


  At PJs, each order of pancakes consists of 5 pancakes, each of which is approximately plate-sized and perhaps a quarter of an inch thick.  I decided to start with two orders of chocolate chip pancakes, just in case I ran into difficulties earlier than expected and wound up having to finance the endeavor.  The pancakes arrived, and I began to eat.  Since this was before the digital camera was popularized (okay, maybe not, but it sounds better that way), I have provided an artist’s rendition of the scene.


  As I took my first bite, I knew that choosing chocolate chip pancakes had been a wise decision.  The pancakes were fluffy sweet goodness, and because of the presence of the chips, I didn’t feel compelled to put syrup on them, which allowed me to save valuable stomach space.  I blew through the first five pancakes in record time and polished off the second five without much more trouble.


  Once I had finished the first 10, however, I realized that I had made an error with my strategy.  By waiting to order the final 5 pancakes until I had finished the first 10, I had given the first 10 a chance to expand and occupy most of my stomach volume.  I think another artist’s rendition will illustrate the point.


   Needless to say, by the time pancake number 11 arrived, I was beginning to feel comfortably full, with uncomfortably full not far behind.  I found out exactly how far behind uncomfortably full was when I reached pancake number 13.  With two pancakes to go, I hit the wall.  I knew that in order to finish, I would need to push myself to the limit, have the eye of the tiger, give 110%, and leave everything out on the field.


   With these thoughts in mind, I pushed onward, although a chorus of “Man versus Food” in the background would have been nice.  I summoned all of my strength and fought my way through the final two pancakes, at last attaining the victory I had sought for so long.  There was much rejoicing!  Actually, my friends just looked impressed and I got a free meal out of the deal, so maybe it was a bit anticlimactic.  But the important point is that I won.  Although in a sense, I lost, as the rest of the afternoon was spent in bearlike hibernation, and I skipped my planned run in order to keep the pancakes from reappearing.  But now I have this story, so I think really, I won.