Every so often, we witness greatness in the sports world—Jordan's last shot, the Immaculate Reception, Kobe's 81 points, and the list can go on and on.
Rarely, however, do we witness history in person. I, for one, can say that I was lucky enough to do so.
Reader, I introduce you to Anas Damiri, a 23-year-old pharmacy student, avid Tennessee Volunteer fan, and tenacious eater.
Sunday morning Anas calls me up and suggests we go eat and catch up since we haven't seen each other in a while. I agree, it has been a while and I could grab a bite to eat, so why not?
I make the 20 minute drive to his house and we sit around for a while trying to figure out where to eat.
Anas tells me that he needs to reward himself with barbecue or a buffet for sticking to his paltry "meals" of peanuts, vegetables, and eggs for a month or so. And I thought I was doing a good job because I hadn't eaten a cupcake in two days. Sigh.
So we're sitting there trying to figure out where to eat when all of a sudden Anas' friend Matin calls and asks if we want to take "the challenge." Right then I knew what he was referring to.
We were in downtown Memphis, so the only challenge known around there is at Kooky Canuck, a world-famous burger joint known for its massive burgers.
We get there and I realize I've been to this place about five years ago. Of course, at the time I knew nothing of the challenge and only had a regular hamburger. Anyways, the place seems nice enough, full of Canadian memorabilia, hence the name Kooky "Canuck."
The menu is not all that big, consisting of maybe 35 to 40 items total. But smack in the middle of the page is the challenger, the Great Kookamonga Burger. It's four pounds of burger meat, the works excluded. With all toppings and bun, the burger weighs roughly eight pounds, contains 12,387 calories, and 267 grams of fat.
We order two Kookamongas: one for me and Anas to split, and one for Matin and his friend Rudy. Right away I decide I'm going to eat half of my portion and take the rest home for lunch the next day.
Matin makes things interesting by placing a bet. The wager is ice cream. The team that finishes less of their plate has to buy winning team dessert at Sheridan's, a local custard place in Memphis.
I look at Anas and give him the go-ahead nod, acknowledging his power as captain of our team. He reluctantly refuses, knowing that I'm only finishing half of mine.
So Anas cuts the burger in half and we start eating, and the burger is absolutely delicious. Not only is this automatically the biggest burger I've ever eaten, it's also one of the tastiest. But halfway through I'm panting.
I look up, and Matin is struggling, Rudy is calmly eating his portion, and Anas is simply a man on a mission. Also, I notice a LOT of ketchup on Anas' napkin. And then I look at his napkin again and think to myself, "That is way too bright to be ketchup."
So I ask Anas what the deal is, and he tells me he cut his finger when he cut the burger in half. I start to panic and tell him to go to the bathroom and wash it off.
His response stuns, disgusts, and inspires me simultaneously. He just says "Burger's more important. I'll just let it dry. Besides, you can't even tell blood and ketchup apart on the napkin. It's all good."
At this point, I'm done eating my measly two pounds of food and am nibbling on Canuck's home cut fries. Anas is slightly beating Rudy, and handling Matin decisively.
Matin angrily throws down his burger on the plate, knowing the futility of his effort. Rudy catches up to Anas by finishing both of his quarters a couple of minutes after him.
From the corner of my eye, I notice Anas glance at my other quarter for a split second. I know Anas. The man is a competitor. He does not like losing. He knows I'm the weak link, and that my unwillingness to eat the rest of the burger may cost him extra money at the custard shop.
Realizing this, I tell Anas he should eat some of my burger. He flatly refuses and tells me that it's my lunch, and he won't interfere. I insist that he eats at least some of mine, so he cuts off a small piece and eats it.
Rudy then taunts Anas and says he can't eat anymore. Hearing this turns on a switch in Anas' brain. This switch was inspired by years of heavy eating, a tremendous work ethic, an unwillingness to listen to other's criticisms, and a momentary anger from Rudy's comment.
Anas finishes the burger and I just watch in shame. I ate only half of mine. That means I ate half of a half. A fourth. An effing FOURTH! In everyday terms that's a lot of food. It's actually two whole pounds of food and 3,096 calories. Add the amount of fries to go along with that and it's a sickly sight.
But compared to Anas, it is absolutely nothing. Anas ate six pounds of food, totaling 9,300 calories excluding the fries. He ate what an average person is supposed to eat in five days...with a bloody finger. He put Curt Schilling's bloody sock game to absolute shame.
At this point, people have taken notice of Anas' efforts, and tables around us congratulate him. The waiter comes by, gapes at Anas, horrified, and then lightly jokes that he should try the Avalanche.
The Avalanche, just for clarification, is Canuck's gigantic dessert with cookies and all sorts of baked goods, topped with 18 scoops of vanilla ice cream.
Amazed and speechless, we leave Kooky Canuck with a champion among us. Of course, Anas didn't finish the entire Kookamonga by himself, but he may as well have done so. I was simply there for moral support and some eating. If Anas was Jordan today, I was Bill Cartwright.
Matin congratulates him and offers to buy him dessert, but Anas refuses and states that he did it to prove that he could do it, not for the dessert. That right there, ladies and gentlemen, is a champion.
That is what's missing from sports today, players who do it for the love of the game. The sports equivalent of this feat would be if Kobe reached the finals and refused a contract bonus from the Lakers because he reached that plateau for the love of basketball. Simply amazing.
We ended our day with a trip to the aforementioned Sheridan's. Matin, Rudy, and I all get regular sized custards while Anas gets a large cheesecake custard. He starts eating, then pauses, frowns, and walks over to the counter.
He tells the kid at the counter that his custard doesn't have "enough cheesecake in it like last time." The boy apologizes and tell him they can't take the custard back. What they can do, though, is give him a slice of cheesecake that he can ground into the custard himself.
Without hesitation, he approves the suggestion and gets his cheesecake fill, just like last time.
I hate to bring Kobe back up again, but this dessert saga is very Kobe-esque. Two years ago when Kobe and Co. lost to the Celtics in the Finals, Kobe woke up the morning after and started training for the 2008 Summer Olympics.
I just smile and shake my head, partly because I'm too exhausted to make any other gestures, but mainly because I don't know what to say.
I mean, what do you say to a person like that? Congrats? Good job? I'm disgusted but proud?
Nothing I say will bring justice to this remarkable feat. But then again, he's not looking for compliments, he eats for the love of the game.