28th- April- 2006. Sligo Town. Ireland
It started like any other Friday morning. Fried breakfast in the college canteen. The rest of the morning is hazy. I assume there were lectures. I always went to lectures. It was a big day. My friend was coming over from Dublin for the weekend. We had, within the last year, started the tradition of sharing family sized meals. KFC Family Bucket. Done. Four star pizza meal for four. Done. Even a trip to the cinema needed two family sized “Sharing” bags of sweets. Each.
I came back from college in the afternoon to an empty apartment. Put on neighbours. For my dinner I cooked one of those dried pasta things you add boiling water to. “Serves two” the packet read. Not this afternoon. I added some chicken pieces and and ate it with four slices of bread and butter (brown bread obviously, I was eating healthily lately)
Late that afternoon my friend arrived. We discussed that evening’s meal. “Four star meal for four” I said. Yep my friend agreed. A moment’s silence. Then, in unison, we both said “I was thinking”….. “you go” no “you go”, “Well” my friend tentatively suggested, “How about a meal for four……each” The exact words I wanted to here. This was it, the ultimate challenge. A marathon. This was Everest.
What’s a meal for four you ask? Well it is 1.5 litres of Coke. 8 chicken goujons. A generous helping of potato wedges. Two pieces of disgusting garlic bread. 3 dipping sauces. And a pizza. A large pizza. A pizza designed for four. A 16 INCH pizza. EACH. I was ready for it. I’d been training my whole life. BUT it was never going to be easy. If it was easy, everyone would do it. We needed an extra challenge.
It arrived in the shape of my friends parents. They happened to be in town on a weekend break, and being good people, they decided to treat their son and his friend to their dinner. They knew nothing about our prearranged dinner plans and we, being good people, decided not to risk causing offence by rejecting the offer.”We are still getting pizza” we agreed. So before the meal for four could begin, there was the small matter of fish and chips to get out of the way. Fish, we reasoned, was light and healthy. Fish in thick batter. Fish deep fried in oil. With chips. The type of chips that were potatoes cut into 4 pieces and deep fried in oil. A bag of them. This was consumed with relative ease and we made it back to the apartment to ring Four star. I wasn’t really hungry.
Two meals for four I ordered. When the delivery man arrived at the door I told my friend to turn up the radio and the TV and make lots of noise. This man had food for 8 people with him. I don’t know why, but I wanted him to think 8 people were going to eat it. Was I embarrassed? Maybe. Or maybe I just wanted society to at least keep up the pretence of long established norms. A meal for four was 26 euro. I paid the man 52 on the button( I don’t tip) and brought the food upstairs. I don’t remember much of what happened next. We ate obviously. Ate. Ate. Ate. About 3/4s of the way through as I was eating, what was conservatively my 7th meal of the day, my memory goes completely blank. I entered a higher plane, I encounter the monolith, I reached the tipping point and it was now no longer about eating, it was a spiritual experience. I’m sure I learned some valuable lessons.
I think my friend got sick.