Sunday, April 25, 2010

I'm a loser baby! So why don't you kill me?

For the last two months I participated in a fat people competition. No, it's not what you're thinking. The nature of this contest was to see who could lose the most weight. It was called the 2nd Annual Busan's Biggest Loser, after the NBC show where two mean yet caring homosexuals named Bob and Jillian yell at a rag-tag band of M.O.F.s (Morbidly Obese Folks) in hopes of bringing them from embarrassing to healthy, all for a cash prize of a cool million dollars.

Now, not being funded by a major television network, or even by NBC, we didn't have a $1,000,000 pot. The man and woman who lost the highest percentage of their body weight in two months time would receive 500,000 Won (Approx. $500) Second place man and woman would get $250,000 and bronze would see $80,000. It was $60,000 to enter. The competition would provide free training and small prizes along the way, sponsored by a local gym, English language magazine and other local businesses.

There were no ostensible rules. I honestly don't know what they would have done if a preg-o woman would have entered the contest, much less if someone would have gotten lypo or gastric bypass. As it was, the rules of the contest seemed to change weekly. The only constant was that each of us needed to weigh in every week so that the others could keep track of our progress. Since this was the closest I would ever come to being a reality show contestant, I wanted to be the villain. I wanted to be one who lied, manipulated, sacrificed potential friendships and derailed the life-changing efforts of others, justifying it all by claiming that I'm "only playing the game!" I wasn't there to start down a path of healthy living with my brothers and sisters in arms; I was trying to get paid.

My first move was to put on the lbs. In the week before the first weigh-in, I lived a life that I had fat-a-sized about ever since I was "little." My breakfast was fried chicken and mayo, with a Dove Bar for dessert. Instead of water I drank gravy. I ate donuts topped with iced cream, covered my tempura in cream cheese, and drank the thickest damned beer I could find. I went through four jars of peanut utter that week. It was glorious, but I soon got to the unfamiliar point where I was actually sick of food. By the end of that week I.... only wanted to eat vegetables, and I would soon get my chance to do just that. But not yet. The morning of the first weigh-in I ate kimbap until I thought I would hurl. I was stuffing muffins into my mouth, and washing it down with water until it was hard to stand up without messing me-self. I weighed in at 277.6 lbs. Now it was time to start losing.

The first week was a cinch. Without really exerting any effort, I shat out roughly 14 lbs. I came out the gate as a front runner. In the next month and a half I watched my portions, quit snacking, and gradually cut down my alcohol consumption to zero. I also started playing tennis, jumping rope, and doing the corniest thing I've ever found myself doing: 8 minute abs. Yet, as well as I was doing, which wasn't really all that well, the other men in the competition were losing weight faster than me. Who'd have though a bunch of fatty-fat-fat-fats could be so motivated?

With a week to go, I was in 5th place. The obesest among us had dropped out long ago, but being out-hustled by other moderately obese people wasn't helping my self-esteem any. The first place "loser" was uncatchable so I had my eyes on the silver medal, and the "1 week Cabbage Soup Diet" would be my secret weapon. Also known as the Mayo Clinic diet and the Sacred Heart Hospital diet, the 1.W-C.S.D. is exactly what it sounds like. The trick is that the vegetable-laden soup satiates your hunger while providing almost no calories and enough dietary fiber to produce those triceratops droppings from Jurassic Park. My friend cooked me a huge crock pot of this miracle-soup, and I supplemented it with frequent and generous doses of laxatives. It wasn't the healthiest decision I've ever made, but sometimes you have to make sacrifices when you're a competitor/procrastinator. (A comprastepetatitanator) It was a rough week, and amidst this roughage I weighed myself obsessively. I wanted to win very badly. I was employing techniques wrestlers use to drop a weight class: Chewing gum all day to induce salivation, and spitting my saliva into a can. Sitting in the sauna for extended periods of time with elderly Korean men and a very empty stomach. Exercising way too intensely for a man on a diet of vegetable soup and laxatives. I can't believe that last one didn't end in disaster.

I talked on the phone to the guy in second place the day before the final weigh-in, and he hadn't lost anything that week. I was going to waltz into those 250 Gs after my super-week, and buy myself and my friends some effing cheeseburgers! None of the M.O.F.s suspected a thing. The morning of the final weigh-in, this last Saturday at 8:30 A.M., I was nervous and a bit giddy. I took a deep breath and stepped onto the scale. 234.4 lbs. I had lost 43.3 lbs total, and about 20 lbs in the final week. Unless the silver leader had lost 8 lbs in a single day, I had it in the bag. YES!

But he did lose 8 lbs in a single day. When he talked to me on the phone, he had been reporting his weight "with all his clothes on," never mentioning that while he was talking to me, he was wearing a suit of chain mail armor. I was bumped to third place, and although a little steamed about the deception, I couldn't be too mad at a guy who was just "playing the game." Plus he organized the whole competition and helped me out a bunch of times, so I was grateful to him. Besides, I couldn't have done anything more in that last week short of castrating myself. I guess coming in a close 2nd is an occupational hazard of any comprastepetatitanator.

Though It's heartbreakingly disappointing, at least in the last few days I've gotten a great chance to eat that pain away, taking solace in the arms of the only substitute for real love: carbs. I've already gained 10 lbs back, which is a good start. But I'm going to need to gain way more if I want the edge for next years contest! Truth be told I'm barely even overweight right now. It's disgusting! But by next year I'll be a balloon and I'll be unstoppable because now I know how to play the game! I will be the biggest loser of 2011! Mwahahahahahahahahahahahaaaaaaaaa!


Grey Duck

Friday, April 16, 2010


Many of you have never heard of "Annyong."

No doubt a good portion of you who have heard this word, know "Annyong" as the adopted Korean boy from TV's "Arrested Development", and hence know that it isn't really his name but rather the Korean word for "Hello" that the Bluth family ignorantly mistakes for his name, puzzled and annoyed when he repeats it back to them every time he's addressed.

Some of you are screaming indignantly at your computer because you don't like how I've underestimated your Korean ability. Of course you know what "Annyong" is! Yet, you might still be wondering "who the hell is the Bluth Family?" which is way worse.

Finally, there are those of you who don't know diddly-feces. The ones who are ashamed to ask which Korea is the "bad one." You know, the Korea from that "Team America" movie with that King named Kim John III. (You're thinking of West Korea)

It's impossible to be an expert on everything, even if you're Malcolm Gladwell. Knowing our limitations, we either choose specific fields of interest and expertise, a survey course of possible human knowledge and current events that's just enough to help us scrape by at dinner parties, or to surround ourselves with complete idiots. Most of us choose a little of each, and it's important to be discriminating in what and whom we invest our time in.

So why Korea? Wouldn't it make more sense to go teach English in China? There are a lot more Chinese people and more Chinese food, and it would sure be nice to speak Mandarin when they inevitably end up owning the world. Also, isn't it dangerous in Korea? War could break out! All valid points, but I say to you... whatever. if I was the practical plan-ahead type I wouldn't have left the U.S. I would be an accountant with Goldman-Sachs.

The truth is that Korea offers more money (I'm a millionaire in Won), a free apartment, and just as much adventure as anywhere. That's why I picked it. It's not as romantic a reason as the yarn I spun for the consulate when applying for my visa, but it's the truth. Now that I'm here though, I'm soaking up the culture of a country I may never have otherwise thought too much about, which would have been a shame. The R.O.K. has a rich history, unique and delicious cuisine, and warmhearted caring people. The world is the same size it's always been. We just have more access to it now, so I'm going to try to exploit that before I get a bad hip or a jaded soul. Maybe I'll be living here 50 years from now, or maybe I'll go back to Minnesota in a year and live out my days there. Who knows? Maybe I'll die before I finish this sentence. Nope. Made it. And I'm not only gonna keep trying to make it, but also to make it interesting along the way. So figuratively join me in my travels if you would be so kind. I promise you that you won't not not not not not not regret it.


Grey Duck